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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Say hello to the LG G Flex

Available on 3 carriers

Curve goes top to bottom

Trick of the eye?

Breathe man, breathe!

You scratch my back

Can't scuff this

Google apps and Android 4.2.2

Carrier apps included too

A 13-megapixel camera

Green means go

Whatever way you bend

Sporting a vertically curved display, the LG G Flex is certainly eye-catching. But even if you think this bowed construction is a useless gimmick (it's not -- and it took five years to develop), the device has plenty of other things going for it as well, like its Snapdragon 800 processor, scuff-proof coating, and sizable 3,500mAh battery.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Both AT&T and Sprint currently carry the G Flex for $299.99 with a service agreement and $694.99 without. T-Mobile will also offer the device starting February 5, 2014, for $672 (or $28 a month for two years).

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

The device sports a vertically curved 6-inch OLED display. The screen is indeed big, but the curve helps make the size more manageable. Because it has a 1,280x720-pixel resolution, the screen isn’t as crisp as other (1080p) high-end phones.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

LG reported that it went through hundreds of mock-ups and trials before finally deciding that the 700mm radius curvature was the "ideal curve" for the handset. Though the arc is visually noticeable (especially when the device is resting on its back), the actual physical feel of it is much subtler.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

The phone is meant to survive being sat on. In that vein, the Flex does indeed flex. It reportedly can withstand up to 88 pounds of pressure. I pressed the device down dozens of times, and you can also place it facing upward and press down on its ends.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

The rear finish, which LG says is "self-healing," is derived from paint finishes in the automotive industry. Though not designed to be impenetrable (I managed to put one permanent scar on the back of the device with a key), it can fend off everyday scuffs and scratches.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Another look at the G Flex's self-healing rear

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Running Android 4.2.2, our unlocked Flex features your usual lineup of Google apps including Chrome, Gmail, Search, etc. LG also threw in new software features like QTheater and Dual Window, along with some cosmetic tweaks to the UI.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Speaking of software, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile loaded their G Flex variants with several carrier-branded apps as well. Some include AT&T's navigational app, Sprint's ID pack feature, and T-Mobile TV.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Both the rear-camera and the 2.1-megapixel front camera have plenty of photo options. These include auto and touch focus; a voice shutter function that lets you operate the shutter by saying certain words including "cheese, "smile," or "whiskey;" and the option to select whether you want the volume key to either zoom or take a photo.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

The 13-megapixel camera's "face-tracking" option works in conjunction with the LED light located on the power button. When the LED lights up green, it means the camera has now focused on the face, and you can go ahead and take the photo.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Unlike the Samsung Galaxy Round (left), the Flex's curve goes top-to-bottom. That may not hug a leg as well, but it actually matches the shape of a wallet held in your back pocket for a long while.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
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