Turns out the swiveling LG Wing phone, which was leaked last week in a YouTube video, is real and as wacky as the rumors purported it to be. Unveiled at a virtual presser Monday, the 5G phone has two screens, one of which swivels on top of the other to form a T-shape design. In the US it will be available first on Verizon, then AT&T in the fall and T-Mobile.
The phone is the first of LG’s Explorer Project, a company endeavor that aims to bring more experimental designs and form factors with LG phones. More phones are sure to come, however, as LG also teased an extendable phone with a pull-out display at the end of the presentation. It’s too early to tell if the LG Wing or even this Explorer Project will be successful. After all, for all the criticism the phone industry receives for shunning innovation, people are more than happy to keep buying the same rectangular slab every two years or more, as long as there are minor improvements.
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But this year is a crazy year, so I say, why not keep being weird, LG? And LG is no stranger to trying out new things. In 2016, it released the modular LG G5, which let you swap out key hardware components, like the battery, for other accessories. Before that, in 2014 there was the G Flex, a 6-inch phone with a contoured display. Both phones weren’t exactly top sellers and LG discontinued iterating on those phones for more traditional flagship phones like the current LG G8 ThinQ. Though even the LG G8 is different in that it works with the aforementioned double-screen accessory similar to the LG Velvet.
I haven’t handled the phone in real life yet, but from what I’ve seen in demos, the phone’s swiveling mechanism looks sturdy. But while the design may be solid, I’m unsure how eager users will be to own such a phone. Not only is it thicker than regular phones, but there’s definitely a learning curve when it comes to navigating the interface, which may be too much of a deterrent for those who just want to check their emails, browse the web and make calls.
There’s also the matter of pricing. LG and its carrier partners haven’t released pricing yet, but a phone like this could easily fetch a $1,000 price tag. Though it’s not impossible to sell an expensive phone amid a pandemic when everyone is more budget-conscious, as Samsung has shown with its Galaxy Z Fold 2, it’s certainly risky to do so.
LG Wing design and software: Spin me right round
Phones with swiveling displays aren’t new to the industry. The VX9400 from 2007, for instance, is an early example of an LG phone with a similar design. I myself owned a beloved Nokia 7370, which featured a screen that swiveled out as smoothly as a switchblade comb. But those phones tucked a physical keyboard underneath, which was necessary for the phones’ function. The LG Wing, on the other hand, sets a 6.8-inch OLED screen on top of a 3.9-inch OLED display. As any current smartphone owner knows, you don’t really need an extra small screen, but LG added some functionality with it so it has some uses.
For instance, the smaller screen works as a touchpad to navigate the bigger screen. You can also multitask and choose two apps to show up on each screen. If you’re in a car, for example, the top screen can have Maps for navigation and the bottom screen has music controls. You can have Messages open on one display while checking your availability and calendar on another. In the camera app, one screen can be the viewfinder while the other displays the camera controls (I’ll go into this more later). When the phone is expanded you’re also not limited to a single orientation either. The bigger, top screen can be positioned on the left, right or bottom too. So if you’re texting, for instance, you can swivel and hold the top screen closest to you and use it as a keyboard.
The phone is 0.43 inch (10.92mm) thick, which is slimmer (relatively) to the Galaxy Z Fold 2 when it’s folded (0.54 inch). Though that’s not completely gargantuan, it’s definitely thicker than the average phone. LG estimates that the phone is durable enough to survive 200,000 rotations over the course of five years. If you want more protection, LG is working on cases for the phone, but they’ll undoubtedly add more bulk. Lastly, the LG Wing does not have a headphone jack. This is unusual because while many high-end phones don’t have the port these days, LG has generally kept it on its phones, including its flagship handsets from this year.
LG Wing camera: Three cameras and a gimbal
New to any LG phone is the addition of a physical gimbal embedded inside one of the Wing’s three cameras. This is similar to the Vivo X50 Pro, which also has one, and it’s used to stabilize and balance video even when you’re moving around a lot. LG also added software improvements so you can pan and tilt the camera around on different axes and the footage will keep steady.
The gimbal is inside a 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera. The phone also has a 64-megapixel standard camera and another 13-megapixel ultra-wide camera. On the front is a 32-megapixel camera that’s embedded inside the phone and pops up from out of the top edge when in use, which is a lot like the OnePlus 7 Pro, Vivo Nex and Oppo Reno 2.
When I get my hands on the phone I’ll be able to test the camera for photo and video quality. In the meantime, videographers may be interested in the suite of tools the LG Wing has. I especially look forward to trying out the gimbal-style camera. With the LG Wing’s unique shape, gripping the phone vertically while still shooting horizontally will at least make for a more comfortable shooting experience, and it’d be interesting to control the pitch and tilt of the camera manually while recording video.
LG Wing 5G specs
|Display size, resolution||Main screen: 6.8-inch OLED; 2,460×1,080 pixels. Second screen: 3.9-inch OLED; 1,240×1,080 pixels|
|Pixel density||Main screen: 395ppi. Second screen: 419ppi|
|Dimensions (Inches)||6.67 x 2.93 x 0.43 in|
|Dimensions (Millimeters)||169.5 x 74.5 x 10.9 mm|
|Weight (Ounces, Grams)||9.17 oz; 260g|
|Mobile software||Android 10|
|Camera||64-megapixel (standard), 13-megapixel (ultra-wide), 12-megapixel (ultrawide)|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G|
|Expandable storage||Up to 2TB|
|Special features||Swivel screen design; gimbal camera; wireless charging|
|Price off-contract (USD)||TBD|
In the meantime, let us know what you think about the LG Wing. Is it cool or crazy of LG to have launched something like this? Would you get this? If so, how much would you reasonably pay for it?