Release date: Oct. 15
Displays: 6.8-inch OLED and 3.9-inch secondary OLED
CPU: Snapdragon 765G
Storage: 256GB; expandable up to 2TB
Rear camera: Triple-lens: 64MP wide (ƒ/1.7), 13MP ultrawide (ƒ/1.9), 12MP ultrawide with gimbal (ƒ/2.2)
Front camera: 32MP
Battery: 4,000 mAh
Size (closed): 6.67 x 2.93 x 0.43 inches
Weight: 9.74 ounces
We've already seen some of the most ambitious phones ever during 2020, and yet the LG Wing still manages to stand out.
It's a concept almost too ludicrous to exist. The LG Wing is a dual-screen phone, but you wouldn't know it by looking at it straight away. That's because the second panel is hiding behind the primary one, and is only revealed when the the big one on top is swiveled out of the way.
It's jarring in pictures, even more jarring in real life, and while a neat party trick, it's not really the most elegant approach to dual-screens we've ever laid eyes on. The T-shaped result ultimately resembles two candy bar handsets glued together.
But what they say about books and their covers also applies to the LG Wing. This phone can deliver some clever and useful software experiences by virtue of its weird design and gimbal-equipped camera — all despite a relatively reasonable price of $999. We've got our hands on a pre-production LG Wing ahead of the phone's Oct. 15 launch on Verizon to find out what the fuss is all about.
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LG Wing: Dual-screen design and software
At nearly 6.7 inches tall, more than four-tenths of an inch thick and tipping the scales at a smidge under 10 ounces, the LG Wing is a seriously massive phone. Even the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is 2 ounces lighter and a tenth of an inch thinner. Those may sound like negligible numbers, but they make a massive difference in hand.
I won't spend too much time on the Wing's design aside from the dual-screen aspect, but it's a handsome enough device, with an elegant matte aluminum frame and mirrored glass back, touched off with a triple-lens rear camera housing that almost looks lifted wholesale from Samsung's latest Notes.
Inevitably, however, you forget about all of that the very first time you flick the Wing's primary 6.8-inch AMOLED display over to the left, revealing a 3.9-inch panel underneath. The top panel slides away with a light touch in one swift, smooth motion that slows down as it terminates and soft closes, in tandem with a simulated click from the software. Closing the display requires the use of two hands, though opening it can be done with the effortless swipe of a thumb.
LG says the Wing is built to withstand 200,000 swivels, which the company estimates should last you five years . The whole mechanism feels very sturdy, save from the slightest degree of vertical flexing if you gently try to lift that top display up and down, though it's worth reiterating this isn't a final unit we're using.
When you spin that top screen to the side, you're greeted with a dual-screen home interface. On the 6.8-inch panel, you'll find what LG calls Swivel Home, which displays large app shortcuts in a horizontal fashion. On the other screen, you'll find your more conventional Android home screen interface. Interestingly, Android navigation bar gestures are accessible from both panels, as is the app drawer.
While I've encountered some circumstances where the Wing isn't sure how to orient apps on both displays depending on the gyroscope's position, for the most part, my early impressions are positive. Not only does the Wing's software react fluidly and reasonably quickly when new apps enter the mix or assume the foreground (looking at you, Microsoft Surface Duo), but LG's devised some pretty clever uses for the extra real estate when you're not multitasking.
For example, if you're watching a YouTube video in portrait orientation, and then you flick the screen sideways, the video you're watching will take on a landscape crop, while the small screen will be employed for playback controls and volume and brightness sliders. The addition of a brightness slider is such a simple but smart idea, because it's often something I find myself adjusting when I decide to watch a video on my phone. The Wing puts that right within view.
A small pop-out button on that second screen allows you to hide or show those additional controls, making it easy to then fire up a second app, like Google Chrome, for example, and have both chugging along at once.
Any app can run on that second screen, though some may have to be whitelisted in the device's settings, because they haven't been vetted by LG to deliver a consistent experience. The lone exception to this are games; Asphalt 9, for example, will exclusively use the second screen for LG's Game Tools, which offer a quick and easy way to toggle graphics settings, take screenshots and more.
LG Wing: Gimbal camera
The LG Wing's other marquee feature pertains to its camera system. And while triple-lens shooters are hardly original by today's standards, the Wing differentiates itself from even more high-end devices with a gimbal-equipped ultrawide lens that can pan automatically or manually (via an on-screen joystick) for smooth motion.
Although you'll find a primary 64-megapixel main camera and a 13MP ultrawide lens on the back of the Wing, it's the 12MP optic situated in the middle of the trio, specifically designed for video, that benefits from LG's new Hexa Motion Sensor technology.
Interestingly, there's seemingly no way to make use of the gimbal unless you have the main display flipped open, as all the controls for the gimbal are housed in the secondary panel. This is a good idea though, because it leverages the Wing's unique form factor to make it better equipped for one-hand shooting, while also giving those controls a place to live, so they don't clutter up the viewfinder.
At first glance, the array of gimbal shooting modes are quite vexing, though they're relatively quick to grasp in practice. There are three modes — Pan Follow, First Person View, and Follow — that each behave differently in terms of orientation and object tracking.
I find the Wing's gimbal exponentially easier to use than the Zhiyun motorized gimbal I've tried to use in the past — especially with Pan Follow mode, which keeps the subject in the frame for as long as possible by moving the lens irrespective of the phone, while also stamping out juddering motions stemming from shaky hands.
LG's always emphasized the utility of its phones for vloggers, though in the past I've struggled to see that ambition result in any meaningful, innovative features or tools. The Wing's gimbal, however, seems to make good on that promise, at least at the outset. We've provided some sample shots here from each of the device's cameras, including the pop-up front-facing 32MP lens, to give you an idea of the phone's imaging capabilities; we'll have a deeper analysis in the full review.
LG Wing: Performance and battery
We haven't had a heap of time to evaluate the LG Wing's performance, which comes courtesy of a Snapdragon 765G system-on-chip and allows this device to connect to 5G networks. That's the same processor found inside the LG Velvet, as well as many other lower-cost 5G phones, like the OnePlus Nord and probably the soon-to-be-released Google Pixel 4a 5G.
That silicon is paired with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of built-in storage. The Wing also features a microSD card slot for expandability by up to another 2TB.
Initially, performance seems fine, with the device acting relatively quickly to switch between single-screen and dual-screen modes. Despite my slight reservations earlier, the 765G is perfectly capable of supporting two apps at once, and, again, seems to be quite intuitive in terms of knowing what to do with them in the context of the phone's orientation and whether or not that second screen is in use.
Backing all of this is a 4,000-mAh battery, which matches the size of the power pack in Verizon's version of the LG Velvet. The AT&T edition of the Velvet, which carries the same chipset as the Wing, but lacks the extra screen and has a slightly-larger 4,300-mAh battery, lasted 10 hours and 29 minutes in our custom web-surfing battery test.
We don't expect the Wing to rival that result with both its displays on, though perhaps it can strike close. LG says it has heavily optimized the power draw and general efficiency of the Wing to maximize longevity on a charge. Although the company didn’t go into specifics with us in our briefing, we’re eager to put that to the test once we've had the Wing for a longer stretch of time.
LG Wing: Outlook
The LG Wing may not be the sleekest or most powerful phone in the world, but it is certainly a unique one. It's a function-over-form device in the most brazen way, and it's downright cumbersome to hold at times. Yet, the Wing really does encourage you to use it in ways you normally might not think to use your phone — a familiar trend among 2020's most ambitious handsets, like the exciting-though-flawed Microsoft Surface Duo.
What's more, at $999, the LG Wing is considerably more affordable than other folding or dual-screen devices. It'll launch on Verizon first, before landing on T-Mobile and AT&T shortly after that.
Even if the Wing isn't a booming critical or commercial success, it's refreshing to see a company of LG's stature in the industry experiment with ideas like this. The Wing is the first product borne out of the company's Explorer initiative, an in-house incubator to create mobile devices that reject the status quo of soulless slabs. There's no denying they've certainly done that here.
Stay tuned for our full review of the LG Wing in the coming weeks.