One of the more unique phones in recent memory comes from a company that tends to fly a little under the radar and that’s what made this device all the more interesting. Thanks to what they call the explorer program. LG left some lasting impressions on smartphone enthusiasts with a phone that looks pretty unassuming at first until you flick the screen and it opens up a whole new fun factor. Plenty of new possibilities but while this might have been a memorable 2020 device, why wasn’t it considered one of the better devices of the year? well after spending quite some time with this fun phone I do think there are quite a few reasons why this is?
The first thing that people will want to see with the LG wing is the new fun factor. The thing is if you don’t swivel the top screen to reveal the second screen underneath. This is a pretty inconspicuous smartphone. The curves on the back and the front mean that the rather sizeable phone can be a bit of a pain to handle but it isn’t. A far departure from plenty of phones with the same design cues because of how large the phone is. At first and especially when the swivel is deployed, this is one of those phones that I felt like I had to put a mop on for general use the screen is 6.8 inches large and without any blemishes cutting into the content. The front-facing camera is in a motorized pop-up which is great. The phone is a little thick but there’s an obvious reason for that same reason. This also explains why there’s no headphone jack on the LG wing, so much for LG is the king of quad DAC powered audio and this backing here which is fingerprint prone.
Also does not have any fingerprint readers. Cutting through this shiny gloss the reader is on the main screen. Of course, the fun of the LG wing is really in the swivel screen which moves one way on a hinge with a very satisfying sound and feels the second screen hiding underneath is a 3.9-inch display. This is more Squarish in form but tries to render apps most comfortably. We’ll get into the use cases for having two screens at one time a little bit later. Here is one feature that I find myself using a lot now, you can lock the touch on the second screen and essentially just make it a handle for the main screen hand cramps. While watching landscape content might not be that big of a problem but you all know what I’m talking about and the LG wing actually kind of addresses that in a bit of a roundabout fashion.
On the topic of the screens, the main display is a full HD plus pOLED which means it has the right levels of contrast and color reproduction. We would expect from LG a higher resolution or a higher refresh rate would have put this screen over the top despite how unique this phone might be. If you’re just looking for a normal media or text consumption experience, well the LG wing will deliver.
Now having features like a swivel screen and a pop-up camera or immediate wins in my book because I always have fun with phones that throw at least some of the rules out of the window. Just like with the foldable and even LG’S own dual-screen solutions that we saw throughout 2020, there’s always a question that has to be asked with each new form factor, what exactly would it be? for now foldable is kind of obvious in that you want to get the larger tablet screen experience but still make it worthy.
LG’S own dual-screen experiences mean that multitasking takes center stage but with the LG wing the experience is a little bit different. I think there are some obvious answers in this device even if the questions take a little bit of time to realize for ourselves. LG software tries to make the unique experience pretty seamless with varying degrees of success certain applications like youtube will use the second screen for controls but those touches of detail are kind of far and few between the LG wing feels more at home. Things like multitasking LG themselves presented a scenario where a rideshare worker can put google maps up top but keep up with messages or calls on the second screen. Somebody like me always has to have something playing in the background so this smaller screen would be perfect for watching videos while scrolling through Twitter or Reddit.
Furthermore, you know the gaming experience will come up eventually play the game on the main screen while Netflix plays a movie on the second screen. The second screen isn’t the ideal way of watching widescreen content but that’s the trade-off that you get for functionality. LG knows that this is a scenario people might be interested in because if you were to open up the game bar on the second screen. There’s a button to go to youtube so maybe you have to find a video solving the part of the game that you’re stuck on.
Ultimately you have to think of your use case scenarios with the LG wing. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword this phone because on the one hand you’re lured in by this unique form factor but then you have to put in the work to find the questions that this multi-screen is attempting to answer. We the users are the explorers given a new set of tools that hopefully solve some of our problems out in the real world. It’s up to us to actually run into or even create those scenarios but unfortunately, the creation of a new form factor isn’t enough to make up for the fundamental choices that were made with the spec sheet while there isn’t inherently anything wrong with the Snapdragon 765g, Eight GB of RAM, The fast and wireless charging capable 4,000 milliamp-hour battery and 5g connectivity. It’s all being pushed to the limit when you use the LG wing in the ways that it begs you to use it.
The 4,000-milliamp-hour battery is a decent size and I certainly could get through a full workday without any issues. There’s pretty much no way of telling what your screen on time is when you have two screens kind of running at the same time. As per usual, the promise of 5g is still a conversation of potential rather than actual gains. I think pretty much anybody can agree that this is an exciting new form factor but you have to give the new features the best possible support. In the LG wing, those trade-offs are just a little too glaring to ignore which then brings me to the camera.
Begins with the one hiding at the top the 32-megapixel front-facing shooter that gets out of the way of either of the screens. Now one thing I will applaud, this front-facing camera for is the fact that it can record in 4k resolution. It’s something that content creators, like myself will always be looking for and it’s great to see. LG is known for still trying to provide some tools and features for content creators. It’s just that the hardware itself sometimes is a little bit cut at the knees but I will say the front-facing camera doing a pretty good job.
The processing of things like selfies and portrait mode selfies could still use a little bit of extra work. As the main cameras are concerned the typical photo and video taking experience is done without engaging the swivel. The main 64-megapixel sensor is a good performer akin to LG flagships pixel bidding down to pleasing results and providing all of the features. We would expect from the company from Pro manual controls to a fun sticker mode. The supporting wide-angle camera is of the 13-megapixel variety and it’s not my favorite. Not only does it lack a little bit in the dynamic range I actually couldn’t get past the distortion I was seeing in the edges.
Now videos fare rather well across these cameras though especially when you get into the pro manual video mode, where higher bit rates and minute settings can be accessed to capture good quality footage in good lighting. Speaking of which low light situations are still one of LG’S weaknesses and it’s something they should address to keep up with their competition. The focus of the LG wing was a new camera shooting experience with a Gimbalized third sensor. One that is a wide-angle sensor but is physically rotated for shooting in the t-formation. You can kind of use the front-facing camera while in this mode but only for dual recording modes where footage is captured simultaneously by both sides. The thing with the gimbal mode is that videos are always captured in 1080p because you’re cropping into the wide-angle sensor to achieve that stabilization. This also gives the shooter the ability to move the frame of capture via a joystick hence the t-formation being the handling experience for this model.
It’s replicating a physical gimbal using the toolkit that doesn’t have the best tools. I understand that the wide-angle sensor cropping in means 1080p capture but imagine if it was 4k capable even then the 1080p footage just pales in comparison to what you can get using the main shooters. Anyway, and unless you’re a real run-and-gun type videographer that needs a gimbal to stabilize your footage getting stable footage from the main sensor at 4k.
In the classic way isn’t impossible I mean just look at these two clips together and you tell me in the comments if one is so much more stable than the other so just like with the form factor discussion earlier, I think there can be uses for a gimbal-like stable shooting experience but you again have to run into or create those scenarios yourself it pretty much boils down to this. If you’re not actively swiveling the screen to enjoy multitasking media or to shoot in the gimbal mode then why mess with the classic methods. If they’re already pretty good now don’t get me wrong this isn’t to say that anything in the LG wing isn’t fun.
It’s one of the most fun phones that I used in all of 2020 but equally as memorable as the phone itself are going to be those moments where you’re having fun with the phone and then you run into a little bit of a stumbling block that makes you think damn, I wish it had this, I wish I had that, and that is enough to just take away enough of the fun that you have to have. The trouble with the LG wing it’s got so many great ideas that are just cut at the knees to be truly effective. Make no mistake this is one of the most memorable phones I’ve used recently but my enjoyment with it requires some ingenuity as well as expectation. That is engaging these unique features performance might ultimately take a bit of a hit given that. This is the first foray into the explorer program I think that LG has proven that they can still make interesting and unique phones worthy of our attention.
In that perspective, the wing is best considered a first-generation product that we can hope improves in the next attempt. Especially since you’ll be paying upwards of 999 $ a price that LG has kind of swerved on themselves because you’re not paying for high-end specs. Instead, you’re paying for the unique form factor, and if a phone that’s meant to be enjoyed like this ends up like this more often than not. Maybe that asking price is a bit too much so let’s put it this way keep exploring LG just remember to dot the i’s expertise as you gain more experience in these new and exciting endeavors and so there you have it thoughts on the LG wing. I’ll give you one little swivel here at the end which is still really satisfying and honestly this unique form factor is something that LG has proven can be useful and fun but just like with this and the LG velvet before its LG needs to remember to make this as powerful as possible so we can excel in any scenario. I think if they were able to do that the LG wing 2 or whatever the case may be might be a real phone to look out for when it comes out.
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