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Meet the G Flex 2, LG's next attempt at making the perfect curved smartphone

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Let's face it: With its curvaceous body, low-res screen, self-healing tendencies and lousy camera, the original LG G Flex was a mixed bag if there ever was one. When it came time to craft the inevitable sequel, though, the Korean tech giant agonized over customer feedback for months to figure out what went awry and what was really important to people. The end result of all that brainstorming is the LG G Flex 2, and it shows -- it's dramatically better than the original in just about every way that matters.

Gallery: LG G Flex 2 Hands-on | 38 Photos

One of the first lessons that LG learned: Bigger isn't always better. The 6-inch pocket-buster of a display that graced the original G Flex has been downsized to a more manageable 5.5-inch panel, though its resolution has been cranked up to 1080p. That screen is all the more durable now thanks to a little chemical ingenuity on LG's part -- they took some normal chunks of Corning's Gorilla Glass and basically burned it via chemical reaction to make it 20 percent more durable. While we're talking durability, that self-healing feature that protected the G Flex's back has returned with just a little more oomph: It used to take scratches about three minutes to disappear from the phone's finish, but now we're looking at a full recovery within about 10 seconds.

Hands-on with the LG G Flex 2

Physical design is one thing, but what's probably most impressive is what's thrumming away inside. The G Flex 2 is one of the first devices we've seen to come with one of Qualcomm's octa-core Snapdragon 810 chipsets. Those 2.0GHz processor cores are partnered up with 2GB of RAM (DDR4, no less) and support carrier-aggregated LTE Category 6 to boot -- the G Flex 2 is meant to be a speed demon, no doubt about it. You'll be able to choose from either 16 or 32GB of internal storage, and charging the thing shouldn't take too long either; the included high-speed charger will get you from 0 to 50 percent in about 40 minutes. Oh, and remember the camera on the original G Flex? You probably don't, because it sucked. Rather than reinvent the wheel this time, LG basically just plopped the G3's 13-megapixel rear camera (complete with super-fast laser autofocus) into a new body.

So yes, on paper, the G Flex 2 seems like a worthy upgrade. But what's it like to actually use? As far as first impressions go, the Flex 2 leaves a strong one. In fact, I fear the pictures I've taken don't do the flexible body justice. It's just... lovely. The G Flex 2 is tremendously comfortable to press up against your face too (you know, when you actually need to use your phone as a phone), and the curve puts the microphone much closer to your mouth than a regular candy bar design would.

As you might expect too, I couldn't get the G Flex 2 to so much as stutter during my brief time playing with it -- it's a little too early to make sweeping judgments, but it seems clear that the octa-core Snapdragon chipset is a potent one. Overall performance is helped by the fact that LG usually doesn't futz with stock Android too much, and that still seems to be the case here. That means we've got a version of Android 5.0 Lollipop that isn't overly encumbered by bloatware and visual cruft. Other than the upgrade to Lollipop, though, there isn't a ton in the way of new software -- the most notable addition is a peek feature that lets you pull down from the top of the display to catch a glimpse at the time and your notifications. Alas, it didn't work terribly well on our (admittedly non-final) tester unit, but LG still has time to work out the kinks.

I'll be honest: It was a little hard to leave that conference room. If the original G Flex was a test balloon meant to see how regular people would react to the notion of a weirdo, curved smartphone, the G Flex 2 seems like a supersonic jet, a leap forward in evolution that makes its predecessor seem like a chump. There's no firm word on when it'll be released or how much it'll cost, but AT&T has already promised to carry it in the US.

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