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CES Snapshot: LG G Flex 2 Shows Off Brains and Beauty

Is LG's second curved smartphone still a gimmick?

Bonnie Cha for Re/code

Curved smartphones are still a nascent and niche segment of the mobile market, but LG’s latest iteration may just be the ticket to getting the attention of a broader audience.

Announced today at CES, the LG G Flex 2 is the Korean electronic company’s second curved-screen smartphone, and it fixes a lot of issues found in the original model. The screen still curves from top to bottom, but it’s smaller at 5.5 inches, making it much more manageable than the unwieldy 6-inch G Flex. The screen resolution has also been bumped up from 720p to 1080p, and it’s 20 percent more durable, thanks to a fortified layer of Gorilla Glass. Another improvement is that the self-healing finish on back can now repair light scuffs and scratches within a matter of seconds rather than minutes.

 The G Flex 2 has a 5.5-inch display that curves from top to bottom.
The G Flex 2 has a 5.5-inch display that curves from top to bottom.
Bonnie Cha

While I didn’t get to put the smartphone through its full paces, in the short time that I did have with the G Flex 2, I was able to navigate the phone’s menus and launch applications quickly and easily. The G Flex 2 runs the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system, Android 5.0 Lollilpop, and is one of the first smartphones announced with Qualcomm’s new octa-core Snapdragon processor, which is optimized for the OS.

 A new feature called Glance lets you view date, time and notifications even when the phone is off.
A new feature called Glance lets you view date, time and notifications even when the phone is off.
Bonnie Cha

The cameras are also improved. The main 13-megapixel camera now includes more advanced features like optical image stabilization for better low-high performance. Meanwhile, the front-facing 2.1-megapixel camera has a function where you can capture selfies using hand gestures, rather than fiddling with buttons.

While this is all well and good, at this point, you might be wondering, “But what are the benefits of a curved display?” And for now, the answer is not much.

 The phone’s plastic chassis has a special coating that can automatically repair light scratches in seconds.
The phone’s plastic chassis has a special coating that can automatically repair light scratches in seconds.
Bonnie Cha

LG argues that the curvature makes the phone more comfortable to hold (true), helps absorb the impact of a fall (maybe) and brings the speaker and microphone closer for better sound quality (I didn’t get a chance to make a phone call on the G Flex 2, so I can’t speak to the call quality. But when I reviewed the G Flex last year, I didn’t see any significant improvements).

LG understands that this might sound like a gimmick to consumers, but to those critics, the company says that the G Flex 2 offers a lot more in terms of design and usability than the first G Flex, which was more of a proof of concept. My first inclination is to agree, but of course, I’ll withhold final judgment until I’ve had a chance to fully test the device.

The G Flex 2 will start shipping in the first quarter. In the U.S., AT&T, Sprint and U.S. Cellular will offer the phone, but the carriers have not announced release dates or pricing at this time.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.