A ‘flex’ phone, with flimsy features

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It’s big, it’s beautiful and it’s bent. But is that reason enough to buy the G Flex, the latest smartphone from LG Electronics?

The Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month featured a number of TVs and phones with curved screens, made by LG, Samsung Corp. and other giant firms that think they’ve hit on the hottest new idea since HDTV. But having spent some time with the G Flex, I think curved screens are the next 3-D TV — technically clever but practically useless.

To be sure, the G Flex is a good phone, and its vast 6-inch screen makes it good fun.

But it’s hampered by a disappointing digital camera, less-than-superb screen resolution, and a hefty up-front price: $299 with a two-year contract at AT&T Inc. or Sprint Nextel Corp. T-Mobile US Inc. sells a no-contract G Flex for $672 full price or $28 a month for 24 months. At least for now, the phone isn’t available for the Verizon Wireless network.

So what’s up with the subtly curved screen? LG insists that the unusual shape makes for more comfortable calling. They have a point. When pressed against the ear, the G Flex lies more naturally against the cheek than a standard flat phone. But what of it? The improvement is marginal.

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