With the advent of new display technology, we now have curved televisions coming out, and, the subject of today’s article and video, the curved screen smartphone. Let’s see how the two most prominent examples, the LG Flex and the Samsung Round, compare, and I’ll tell you why I like the idea of curved smartphones, and it’s probably not for the reason you think.
Now aside from specs, the real factor that brings these two curved screen smartphone examples head to head is the execution of the curved aspect of each smartphone. Samsung Round is curved side to side, while the LG Flex has its arc from top to bottom. So which one makes more sense?
Well before the Sony Xperia Z, there was the Xperia P, and I remember having a play with that back when it was released. One thing I do recall from that time was the shape of the back panel, what Sony called a “human” curve, they were trying something more interesting than pure flat surfaces. And that curve on the back did make the phone feel very comfortable in the hand. It made the phone stockier, for sure, but it did feel right.
Samsung’s curved screen smartphone has its curve along the same axis, and I’m guessing it will also feel quite good in one’s palm, just like an empty roll of toilet paper. And that curve should help with the thumb moving across the entire display of what is a repurposed Galaxy Note 3 screen with less finger stretching but all the real estate.
Then there is the pocket factor. Thighs are vertically convex. I never thought I’d be saying that sentence on this website, to be honest. That being so, placing the Round in the pocket may be more comfortable than any flat phone ever was.
LG have taken the curved screen smartphone concept and done a 90 degree turn, by providing a more effective talking position with the Flex reducing the proximity of the mic to the mouth. That does make sense and could make for a better phone call experience, kind of like a banana. The pocket factor I just mentioned, though? Is that an LG flex in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?
Video playback on the LG Flex would probably be a better experience than its competition, as it replicates the design of the landscape-oriented curved OLED TVs that are starting to be seen in the market. It might even be able to stand up in landscape position on its own. The Galaxy Round seems to be way more suited to portrait style applications and one handed use.
So let’s finish off with the monster in the room – who cares? What’s the point of a curved screen? For me, I can see two things, one practical, the other more aesthetic. First, I hate putting screen protectors on my smartphones. To me, they ruin the clarity of the screen and I always seem to get bubbles no matter how steady my hands are.
However, with a curved screen smartphone, I can confidently place my phone face down knowing there is a fair amount of space between the screen and whatever surface I’ve placed it on, avoiding crumbs, sand, liquid, whatever. As someone who doesn’t use screen protectors, screen gunk is one of my main gripes, and this would by its nature solve that to some extent.
The second part is about the art and attraction of symmetry. I’m sure that for some, the personal enjoyment of having a curved smartphone in the hand or on a flat surface will elicit that some emotional and perhaps irrational giddiness. But let’s not get hung up on ourselves here. No doubt, there will be a premium for the concave character of these gadgets, and ultimately you and I, through our purchasing decisions, will determine where this category heads.
And maybe that’s the point of these new releases – to monitor how potential buyers react, to see what apps get written by developers, with a long term vision of a fully flexible wearable device. It’s an incremental evolution.
So if these curvaceous curiosities do get released outside of Korea into your region, will you buy one? Or are you waiting for the killer app to justify the expense? Or is this whole exercise a waste of time in your opinion? I’d love to hear what your thoughts are now that curved hardware is getting out there.