CES 2015: Microsoft, LG Phones In Early Spotlight - InformationWeek

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1/5/2015
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CES 2015: Microsoft, LG Phones In Early Spotlight

On opening day at CES, Microsoft targets emerging markets while LG reveals its impressive second-generation flexible phone.

CES 2015 Preview: 8 Hot Trends
CES 2015 Preview: 8 Hot Trends
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Monday is press day at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, a day that's packed with press conferences and other events. LG and Microsoft were two of the first to show off new mobile devices in the early part of the day.

Microsoft announced the Nokia 215, a feature phone targeting first-time users. The device doesn't run Windows Phone. Instead, it relies on the old Series 30+ platform. Despite the low-end operating system, the phone comes packed with an impressive number of applications and services. For example, you'll find Facebook and Facebook Messenger as well as Twitter for staying in touch with others and social networking. Users will be able to reach the outer world via the Opera Mini browser and Bing Search, and the device includes the MSN Weather app. Other apps include an FM radio and MP3 players.

The hardware may be simple, but it does the trick. The Nokia 215 has a 2.4-inch screen and a numerical button pad for dialing numbers. (Remember those?) The phone has support for 3G data networks built in, along with Bluetooth 3.0. It can support memory cards up to 32 GB, and it offers 21 days of standby time. The Nokia 215 will be sold in select markets in the Middle East, Asia, and Europe for the low price of $29.

[What else is trending at CES 2015? Read CES 2015 Preview: 8 Hot Trends.]

LG was quick to follow Microsoft with the G Flex 2, its second-generation bendable smartphone. It's been about 15 months since LG showed off the original Flex, and the Flex 2 is an entirely different monster -- in a good way. The G Flex was so large as to be unwieldy, and it had less-than-impressive specs. LG clearly sank a lot of development dollars into creating the bendable screen and battery and thus skimped on other features. The Flex 2 is a flagship-class smartphone that impresses through and through.

LG's G Flex 2
LG's G Flex 2

The device has a 5.5-inch 1,080p HD plastic OLED display. According to LG, it has been coated with a material from Corning that mimics the company's Gorilla Glass 3 product, and it is 20% stronger than its predecessor. The back surface of the phone has been improved, too: The original's self-healing material took about three minutes to recover from minor nicks and scratches, but the Flex 2's back cover can heal itself in just 10 seconds. (LG didn't say how quickly it will recover from more serious gouges.)

In terms of specs, the Flex 2 is a monster. It runs a quad-core 2.0GHz Snapdragon 810 processor and will come with 2 or 3 GB of RAM and 16 or 32 GB of internal storage, with support for memory cards up to 2 TB (yes, terabytes). The camera captures 13-megapixel images and includes laser focus and second-generation optical image stabilization. It can record 4K video. The 2.1-megapixel user-facing camera can snag 1,080p HD video, and there's a new tool for taking selfies on board.

AT&T and Sprint were quick to voice support for the LG G Flex 2, though it will probably be sold by T-Mobile and Verizon, too. The phone supports LTE, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, WiFi, NFC, and QuickCharge technology. As for price, don't expect all this to come cheap.

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Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio

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PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
1/8/2015 | 10:59:11 AM
Re: flexible phone
You are right. In the technology industry, specially consumer market, Companies create a huge hype on their products. That these products will completely revolutionize our life.  It has made our lives much more convenient, yes.  But, do we really need the majority of such products, probably not?  
soozyg
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soozyg,
User Rank: Ninja
1/7/2015 | 5:02:24 PM
Re: flexible phone
Interesting. I think that about nature, not about electronics. I think people invent electronic things to solve a problem or fix a pain point, but I don't think there's a reason for everything every time. I think people sometimes make up the reasons to suit the product.
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
1/7/2015 | 12:07:42 PM
Re: flexible phone
soozyg.  I think in the world in general.  Even though, it may be hard to believe for us, there is still people who can't afford to get a smartphone and people who prefer to use a phone with no multitouch screen.  If companies notice that such types of phones are being purchased then they would continue to be manufacture.
soozyg
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soozyg,
User Rank: Ninja
1/7/2015 | 10:48:20 AM
Re: flexible phone
I think everything has a reason to exist. 

Li Tan, that is an interesting statement. Do you mean in the electronics world or the world in general?
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
1/7/2015 | 9:29:10 AM
Re: flexible phone
I think everything has a reason to exist. For this type of phone, I would like to see its performance in the market - how many people will really purchase them. As long as there is steady demand, I don't see the reason why it cannot sustain in the market.
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
1/6/2015 | 11:53:18 AM
Re: flexible phone
I think such phones may not appeal to people who are use to smartphones. But, there continues to be a demand for such type of phone than smartphones.  I can see such feature (self healing) to be very attractive for apple users.  I still can't understand how people use a cracked iphone.  If careless consumers are buying an expensive smartphone, I would prefer a durable one.
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
1/5/2015 | 5:43:07 PM
Re: Flexibility
I have heard of smart materials/metals that have a memory and can be restored to their original condition upon heating, if stress has deformed the structure of the metal. And Nano-paints that do not allow dirt to stick to a surface.

It would be nice if users had a screw driver that was made out of smart materials, so that anytime its tip has been deformed, the user could re-heat and fix the metal. But it is not necessary that consumers might be willing to pay a premium for such functionality.

Likewise, it is nice to have a SG5 that's waterproof and an LG G Flex 2 that can partially self-repair its surface. I agree, isolated these advancements are not a lot, and upgrading based on small increments are not feasible for consumers. But add another dozen of such improvements and theoretically, the world should have a new generation of smart phones.
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
1/5/2015 | 4:49:36 PM
Re: Flexibility
According to both Ars last year and this year, as well as Anandtech last year, the self healing doesn't seem to work. Very innovative. Innovation isn't just a feature that others don't have. The feature must serve a purpose that can't be served otherwise. This serves no apparent purpose other than for marketing that they can do it, and others can't, or won't (likely because others know it's a waste). 256 is the biggest generally available, for $250. You can get 512 on special order right now from a couple of vendors, but you don't want to know the price. It will be years before 2TB is available. By then this phone line will be history.
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
1/5/2015 | 4:41:50 PM
Re: flexible phone
Appeal? None. As Arstechnica points out, this just doesn't seem to be a very good phone. And other than the odd assertion by LG that the curve helps in talking on the phone, no one can give a real reason for the curve other than; " we can!" Not a very good reason. The real reason for this second generation of a poorly selling phone is marketing that they can do it. Another not very good reason. The flexibility doesn't seem to help much, with several sites mentioning broken phones when kept in the back pocket, supposedly a reason for the flex in the first place. So that doesn't seem to work either.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
1/5/2015 | 3:55:08 PM
flexible phone
I am not sure the flex alone would sell me. What is the main appeal for you of flexible form factors, readers?
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