LG’s smartphone business seems to be dwindling, with the rate of new phones dropping at a significantly lower rate as compared to the competition. Recent reports have also suggested that LG might end its smartphone business soon. And while LG has been unable to keep up with the competition, it has been pushing out some innovative smartphone concepts, whether it is the dual-screen attachment or the most recent rollable phone showcased at CES 2021.
Today, we are focusing on one such innovative smartphone concept that the brand has taken public, the “LG Wing”. While brands including Samsung, Motorola, and Huawei ardently pursued flip and foldable phones in 2020, LG went a different route, with a new take on a dual-screen smartphone. At first glance, it doesn’t seem like there’s anything special about the Wing, but a single flip reveals a second screen hiding away behind the primary display. The concept itself is pretty innovative, but how does this unconventional concept translate into real-world usage; stick around, and let’s find out.
Design and Build
First off, hiding a second screen behind your main smartphone display comes at the cost of style. The phone reminds me of a compass box; it weighs 260 grams and is around 11mm thick. I’ve used heavy phones before but have always gotten used to the weight. However, the LG Wing will always remind you that you have a bulky phone, there’s just no escaping it. However, it isn’t like the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is any lighter!
While the Wing is on the heavy side, it seems like a fair price to pay for innovation. The buttons are placed on the right side of the phone, but I found them hard to reach. The Wing has an in-display fingerprint reader that is quite fast, but the good part here is that there’s no notch on the screen. The phone has a pop-up selfie camera, making the screen bezels quite slim. The glass back and metal frame, even though heavy, feels premium.
There’s a slight protrusion of the camera module on the back, but it wasn’t too much. The phone MIL-STD-810G rated for durability, although LG only offers an IP54 rating instead of IP68, so it can only handle light splashes of water. This is understandable considering the number of moving parts here. The LG Wing can be used in two modes as a typical smartphone or what LG describes as a “T-mode” or Swivel Mode.
LG claims that you can swivel the Wing 200,000 times before any significant problems occur, which is enough for you to swivel the phone over 100 times a day for five years. Swivelling the display between normal and T-mode is pretty smooth. It also has quite a satisfying feel to it. Once swivelled, the bottom half of the phone is slim and feels a bit delicate, but I can assure you that it is well-constructed. The Wing also lacks a headphone jack, but LG has claimed that this was the exception and future LG phones would have a 3.5mm port.
The LG Wing has a good main display and an average secondary screen. The primary 6.8-inch OLED panel has an FHD+ (2,460*1,080 pixels) resolution, a 20.5:9 aspect ratio, and 395ppi pixel density. However, it lacks a high-refresh-rate and a Quad HD+ resolution. Moreover, I think the age of the 60Hz panel is over. The second 3.9-inch OLED display has a resolution of 1,240*1,080 pixels and a 419ppi pixel density, although not too many complaints here as it gets the job done.
It is also worth noting that both displays get very bright, while the main screen outputs vibrant colours. There are multiple display modes to choose from, and you can also fine-tune it. All this contribute to an excellent overall experience, but one that still falls short of greatness. The screen has slight curvature on the edges, while the in-display fingerprint reader works well for the most part.
For performance, the Wing opts for a Snapdragon 765G SoC paired with 8GB of RAM. If you are expecting flagship performance, then you might want to tune those expectations down a notch. An average smartphone user won’t have too many issues with the Snapdragon 765G chip as it can get the job done quite comfortably in most scenarios. There are a few downsides when you go the mid-range route as opposed to flagship path, but this seems like the right choice given the fact that LG didn’t slap an outlandish price on the Wing. The phone also comes with 128GB of storage, which can be expanded via a shared microSD card slot. Now, to real-world performance.
I have to say that the lack of a flagship chipset here was somewhat of a letdown, even though I understand LG’s reluctance to use one. And that’s because of the gaming experience on this phone. Because the phone has two screens, you can use the secondary display for doing everything from watching videos while you wait for a game to start to watching game guides on YouTube while simultaneously playing the game. Additionally, I was surprised to see that Asphalt 9: Legends was optimised to work on both screens, with the secondary panel displaying statistics or the map during a race. Call of Duty: Mobile and Raid: Shadow Legends worked quite well, the former on “Very High” settings and the latter with the settings all maxed out.
Gameplay was always smooth and fluent, while the second screen also allows you to access game-specifics functions. We also ran an AnTuTu benchmark on the Wing, which managed an overall score of 321,311 points. In Geekbench 5, the Wing scored 606 points in the single-core test and 1,868 in the multi-core test. Xiaomi’s Mi 10i, which is retrofitted with a Snapdragon 750G, actually did slightly better in both single and multi-core tests. Finally, the Wing is equipped with 128GB of storage that is expandable up to 2TB with the hybrid dual-SIM slot. Overall, the LG Wing offers strong mid-range performance that should handle everyday tasks with little effort.
In terms of optics, the LG Wing has a triple camera setup on the back that comprises a 64 MP, f/1.8 primary sensor with OIS, a 13 MP, f/1.9 ultrawide, and a second 12 MP, f/2.2 ultrawide shooter. Yes, the Wing has two ultrawide shooters, one for use in basic mode and one in swivel mode. On the front, you get a pop-up selfie camera with a 32 MP, f/1.9 sensor. You can capture 4K video at up to 60fps on the rear camera and 1080p video at up to 30fps on the front camera.
The LG Wing can snap excellent photos during the day and at night, although it is not quite flagship-level that we see on Apple, Google, and Samsung devices. You’ll also notice the lack of a telephoto shooter, which seems like the right move, given that the primary focus is here is on videography. I have to say that the camera experience on the LG Wing just falls short of a flagship, but it has some unique features that make the overall experience pretty cool.
The primary camera uses Quad-Bayer technology that takes 16 MP photos by default. The primary 64 MP camera captures images with adequate levels of detail and sharpness. The camera also captures images with a wide dynamic range and relatively good looking colours. You can also capture good stills in the full 64-megapixel resolution in good lighting. There’s no dedicated telephoto camera, but you can zoom in 2x without loss of detail. Digital zoom goes all the way up to 10x, but the lack of detail and increased noise is quite visible as you move beyond 2x zoom.
The ultrawide camera captures decent results in the right light but doesn’t live up to the main camera, struggling with dynamic range. The Night mode on the LG Wing does a fairly competent job with noise reduction. Images captured using the primary camera’s night mode retain good detail and sharpness. Night mode is also available on the ultrawide camera, with usable results. The LG Wing also has a great portrait mode with some awesome customisations. Lastly, the 32 MP selfie camera on the Wing was surprisingly good, detail and dynamic range were respectable. Additionally, edge detection was on point for the most part while snapping portrait selfies.
Moving on to perhaps the most exciting feature of the Wing’s camera setup, the ‘Gimbal Mode’. When shifting to Swivel Mode, the LG Wing works like a gimbal. Once you flip the screen, the second screen on the bottom is transformed into a gimbal controller, which takes some time getting used too. Video recording in Gimbal mode is limited to 1080p resolution at 30fps as the phone can only use the second 12 MP sensor for taking photos and videos.
The best part about Gimbal Mode is that it allows you to capture landscape video using one hand. Capturing video in gimbal mode saw big improvements in stabilisation. Moreover, this mode can also be used to record video on the front and rear camera simultaneously. Additionally, there’s a Time-lapse and Slow-Mo mode as well. It is worth noting that the 12 MP camera here is not the best, and you will need to use a flash while taking photos or videos at night using gimbal mode. Noise was an issue here, even in scenarios with good indoor light. However, as a first adoption, I’d say using this mode offered a fun and unique take on the smartphone camera and has a lot of potential.
The LG Wing comes with a 4,000 mAh battery, which is just below the average for flagship smartphones. If you use the Wing in basic orientation, then 4,000 mAh should be enough to get you through a full day, although the two screens do take a toll on battery life, primarily when gaming. I’d say battery life is entirely dependent on how much the phone is used in Swivel mode.
While I didn’t have too many complaints about battery life, the slow charging adapter that arrives alongside the Wing is quite unpleasant. The phone takes around 90 minutes to hit a full charge when using the charger supplied in the box. It is worth noting that the Wing supports Quick Charge 4.0+, so accessing the full charging potential of the Wing won’t be possible using the charger in the box.
LG’s latest adaption of the dual-screen smartphone runs on Android 10 with LG’s custom UX on top. You can choose between swipe-based gestures or digital navigation buttons for navigation. Because of the way the Wing operates, in its Swivel Mode, the software is an integral part of the overall experience. The software allows you to use both displays of the Wing individually in Swivel mode. There are a couple of apps, including Facebook, Instagram, and some Google apps that come preinstalled on the Wing. To provide an example, you can watch a video on the main screen on YouTube or Netflix, while the second smaller display can be used for chatting or browsing the net.
The phone automatically adjusts the orientation depending on whether you are using it in portrait or landscape mode. Some apps and games have also been customised to work on both screens simultaneously; for example, you can watch a video on YouTube on one screen and use its playback controls on the other. You can also use the smaller display as a trackpad for the primary screen. I found the Wing particularly useful while watching videos and using Google Maps simultaneously, but there are several other use cases for the secondary display. I think LG has done an excellent job with the software, making transitioning between or using both displays quite fluent.
I can promise you that the LG Wing isn’t like any smartphone you’ve ever used. At first glance, one wouldn’t be wrong to think of the second display as a gimmick, but there’s enough innovation baked in to offer real-world utility in different scenarios. I’ll admit that it is going to be quite the challenge to overlook the price, considering the Wing offers middling hardware, but combine that with the innovation and ingenuity, and you get a competent dual-screen device.
Even without innovation, the Wing is a pretty good phone. I had little-to-no performance hiccups no matter the task, camera performance is not quite flagship-grade but isn’t far off either, the software was fluent, and the build was pretty solid. Gimbal mode, which was already great on the Wing, has a lot of future potential as well. However, the lack of a high-refresh-rate panel and faster power brick was a bit of a letdown. And let’s not forget the bulky design.
But if you can overlook a few of those shortcomings, the Wing is a really good smartphone, even without the innovation. I think LG has crafted an excellent piece of hardware with the Wing, especially considering this phone still manages to stand out in an age where dual-screen phones are fast-becoming the norm. With recent reports about the uncertainty surrounding LG’s mobile division, one can only hope that it powers on, even if it only-ever releases innovative concepts that can be commercially adopted.