LG Electronics unveiled Monday a curved-screen smartphone, taking on rival Samsung in a niche market seen as a first step on the road to fully flexible products.

Despite its name, the "G-Flex" does not bend, but uses flexible OLED (organic light-emitting diode) to produce a curved six-inch display.

The model is "the best representation yet of how a smartphone should be curved," the president of LG's mobile unit Park Jong-Seok said, in a clear dig at Samsung.

Earlier this month, Samsung started retailing its "Galaxy Round" -- a 5.7-inch (14.5 centimetre) handset with a display that curves from side-to-side to fit the contour of the hand.

The "G-Flex" is curved on the vertical axis in order to, the company said, "follow the contour of the face".

Curved displays are already commercially available in large-screen televisions offered by both Samsung and LG.

The displays are supposed to offer a more immersive viewing experience but are significantly more expensive than standard screens.

The Galaxy Round is currently only available in South Korea and retails at 1.08 million won ($1,000).

Curved screens are still at a nascent stage in display technology, which is shifting towards flexible panels that are bendable or can even be rolled or folded.

LG said the G-Flex would be available to South Korean consumers from November, but did not provide a price estimate.