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Battery, camera comparison
Smartphones have reached the point where designs are more iterative than innovative. While the look and feel changes only slightly on new models each year, manufacturers haven't done much to wow consumers beyond the traditional rectangular slab of glass, metal and plastic.
LG attempted to shake things up last year with first G Flex, a 6-inch smartphone with a curved display and slightly flexible frame, and Samsung soon followed with their own take on this concept, courtesy of the Galaxy Note Edge, a phablet-sized model featuring a display that wraps around the right side.
These Korean tech titans wasted no time announcing all-new versions of these devices for 2015, and we sat down with both in an effort to determine whether curved and flexible displays actually enhance the experience or are little more than a marketing gimmick.
Although it won't hit stores until April 10 (with preorders now available in 20 countries), the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is little more than a variant of this year's Samsung Galaxy S6, featuring nearly identical specs with one notable exception: The Edge's display gently wraps around both sides of the front.
Otherwise, the Galaxy S6 Edge offers the same 5.1-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display as its less curvaceous sibling, with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 that packs in a whopping 577ppi.
The new LG G Flex 2 one-ups Samsung's latest with a 5.5-inch Full HD P-OLED display which curves slightly from top to bottom, and like its predecessor, can handle a bit of bending without breaking.
Despite the larger screen, the G Flex 2 tops out at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 with a pixel density of only 403ppi, but LG attempts to make up for this shortcoming by comparing the curved display to its high-end televisions, offering a more cinematic viewing experience in landscape mode with three modes (Standard, Vivid or Natural) to make any content look great.
Weighing only 4.66 ounces (132 grams), Samsung's curved Galaxy S6 Edge offers a premium feel that's slightly less ergonomic along the edges, but the aluminum frame and 7mm thickness make the device feel lighter than the Galaxy S6.
Roughly the size of an iPhone 6, Samsung borrowed a somewhat annoying trait from Apple's latest flagship handset: The rear camera protrudes from the back ever so slightly, presumably a design compromise to keep the device slim and trim.
Instead of curving around the edges, LG's G Flex 2 bends the entire case inward vertically, and because of the larger display size, its contoured body weighs slightly more at 5.36 ounces (152 grams) with a 5.87 x 2.96 x 0.37-inch (149.1 x 75.3 x 9.4mm) frame.
Processor and Storage
Just because it looks so nice on the outside, that's no reason to be a slouch when it comes to what's on the inside.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge obliges with an octa-core, 64-bit Exynos 7 Octa 7420 processor clocked at 2.1GHz capped off by a Mali-T760 MP8 GPU and a whopping 3GB RAM and up to 128GB of storage for good measure.
LG mostly made up for the lack of oomph on the first G Flex by slapping an octa-core, 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor into the sequel, clocked at 2.0GHz with Adreno 430 GPU and the same 3GB RAM.
Unfortunately, the built-in storage on the G Flex 2 maxes out at 32GB, but up to a totally insane 2TB of additional storage is available from an optional microSD card – a feature sadly lacking on the otherwise hardware-rich Galaxy S6 Edge.
Battery, cameras and features comparison
If you love the flexibility of swapping in a new battery when the current one runs out, neither of these curvy smartphones are likely to make you smile.
It's too early to know what the battery life will be like on the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, but the 2600mAh power pack doesn't offer a whole lot of encouragement on this front.
By comparison, the G Flex 2 packs a 3000mAh battery (reduced from 3500mAh in the previous model), but before LG can boast about having more power, there's the matter of that larger 5.5-inch display to consider.
Thankfully, the fast charging capabilities of both models should have you back in action quickly – our own review of the LG G Flex 2 topped up from a complete discharge in just over an hour and a half.
Samsung hasn't held back when it comes to the Galaxy S6 Edge camera: Rocking a 16MP, f1.9 aperture sensor with dual LED flash and optical image stabilization capable of shooting 4K video up to 3840 x 2160, the rear camera is no slouch.
By comparison, the LG G Flex 2 borrows liberally from the LG G3 to provide a 13MP sensor that otherwise checks off the same feature list above on the Galaxy S6 Edge, although the laser auto focus is one noteworthy addition.
Neither model breaks much new ground with the front camera, however: Samsung touts a "best-in-class" 5MP sensor with 120º wide angle lens, while LG's tops out a 2.1MP, which the manufacturer claims is enough to use it as a "full HD camcorder."
The remaining feature checklist is relatively the same for both handsets: Each ships with Android 5.0 Lollipop out of the gate, with the usual Bluetooth 4.1, NFC and 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac wireless on board.
Aside from curved edges, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge also offers built-in Qi and Powermat-compatible wireless charging.
LG instead opted to include a selfie-friendly "Gesture Shot" mode on the G Flex 2, which provides a three-second timer on the front-facing camera that can be activated with a gesture; tilting the camera down allows the user to review images instead.
Like the original G Flex, the sequel also features that bizarre self-healing back, which didn't do all that much to impress in our own review of the G Flex 2. More impressive is the Glance view, which offers a peek at what's happening without the need to actually turn on the device.
Galaxy Edge 6 vs G Flex 2 Verdict
LG has a slight advantage since the handset is already available from two carriers for early adopters to take home, but to be honest, the whole concept of curved displays on a smartphone still causes us to scratch our collective heads more than be impressed.
Samsung isn't likely to woo many potential Galaxy S6 buyers away from the flagship device in favor of the Galaxy S6 Edge either, but those in search of a more premium edition worthy of making friends envious will want to wait it out a bit longer – assuming you can afford it, that is.
Take a look at your computer, phone and tablet. The chances are they are encrusted with dirt, grease and are home to some germs that can be harmful to your health. Forget that old clichéd quote regarding our toilets being cleaner than our kitchens – nowadays, our smartphones contain ten times more bacteria than our toilet seats. This isn't surprising, as our bathrooms are regularly cleaned, but when was the last time you even wiped a cloth over your tablet, laptop, keyboard, TV or games console?
Researchers have discovered a range of bacteria living in the tech we use on a daily basis. The habit of eating at our desks coupled with poor tech hygiene has meant bugs such as staphylococcus aureus have been found, which can cause upset stomachs, leading to the illness being dubbed 'Qwerty tummy'.
And in an office environment, food crumbs can attract mice and other pests, which in turn leave droppings, which offer an even richer breeding ground for germs. In one reported case a keyboard was so badly infected, it was ordered quarantined, as it contained 150 times the acceptable levels of bacteria. You can take a test to see how many germs are potentially living on your keyboard right now at CyberClean.
Simple cloth and water
The approach you take to cleaning your devices will largely depend on how soiled they are and how much you want to spend on cleaning products. The Wall Street Journal for instance found that a microfiber cloth and plain tap water was the best for cleaning screens – no fancy solutions were used. However, it has been shown that a 50/50 mix of water and white vinegar can be highly effective at cutting through grime and grease.
Care should be taken, however. There are rugged examples of technology, but most of the devices we all use on a daily basis need to be treated with care, especially when cleaning them. Pressing too hard on your LCD TV for instance could burn out a pixel. And think about the basic tools you will need. As already mentioned the microfiber cloth is vital. Don't use cotton wool for instance. You might think it feels soft to the touch, but it's abrasive to delicate screens.
Okay, let's discuss in detail how to spring clean your various bits of hardware…
First off, check the manual for your tech before you begin scrubbing, as some cleaning products could damage your sensitive devices. And any special screen coating could be wiped away if the right cleaning product isn't used. Most smartphones have what is called an oleophobic coating, which is designed to reduce fingerprints. Using the wrong cleaning products could damage this coating, and make your phone or tablet even more susceptible to dirt and grease.
Turn off your tech
Make sure your PCs, tablets and phones are off before you begin to clean them. This is especially important to avoid damaging your keyboard. Keyboards will often have to be dismantled before they can be cleaned properly.
Remove the debris
Target the loose dirt and other detritus that has accumulated on your keyboard or other peripherals first. Use canned air to remove any stubborn debris. Don't blow on your keyboard (or other device) as your breath is moist and you just spray droplets of saliva onto your hardware. A product like Cyber Clean is ideal for this task. OXO also has a handy cleaning brush (see the above video) made from silicone that is retractable to protect it.
Don't use household cleaning products as many contain bleach, which can damage sensitive equipment. The cleaning solutions from companies such as Muc-Off and iKlear have been specially formatted to effectively clean electronic devices. And don't spray the cleaner directly onto your device. Spray onto a microfiber cloth and then apply to your tech. The Stylus Pro is a liquid spray, cleaning cloth and stylus all in one device, which is great for cleaning on the move.
If your tech is very soiled avoid the temptation to scrub too hard, as many screens now have anti-glare coatings. If you polish these coatings too much they can become shiny defeating the whole point of them. Use microfiber cloths at all times as their surface isn't too abrasive. Be careful when using products like Mr Clean Erasers, as they are basically very fine glass paper. Moshi offers a Terahedron microfiber, TeraGlove, which is designed to fit over the hand for perfect cleaning.
Kill the bugs
One of the issues with a build-up of dirt is that this can become a breeding ground for all manner of nasties. One of the best ways to deal with this is to invest in a UV light box. These are used to sterilise toothbrushes, but larger ones can be used to sterilise smartphones, keyboards, mice and any other smaller devices. Search eBay (Germix brand name) for a range of UV sterilisers.
Prevention is better than cure
Stopping your tech from getting dirty in the first place is also an option. There are many keyboard protectors as well as screen shields for touch devices. Suppliers including Protect Computer Products and even sealed peripherals from Seal Shield stop any dirt or germs reaching your devices. It is also possible to buy keyboards and mouse pads coated with an anti-bacterial called Microban.
Of course you can cut down drastically on cleaning by not touching the screen of your devices at all. When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone in 2007 he said that no one wants a stylus. Using a stylus, however, keeps fingerprints to a minimum.
Inside and out
Giving the outside of your tech a quick wipe down may be enough to make it cosmetically clean, but think about what could be lurking inside. Any device with a fan will inevitably let dust into the casing. Over time if this isn't removed it can lead to serious faults and of course all this dirt is yet another breeding ground for bugs.
Carefully open your device and use a vacuum cleaner if it has a very narrow hose head to remove the majority of the dust. Then use a soft paintbrush for any crevices the vacuum can't reach. And finally, canned air (available from Poundland) will blast away the remaining dust particles.
Cleaning your tech should become a habit you get into. Don't leave it months or even years between cleans, as this can lead to a serious health hazard in some extreme cases. Invest in the right cleaning tools for the tech you have, and to ensure your devices stay as clean and shiny as the day you unboxed them.