LG Wing Review: Flying High!
Before I tell you what this phone is, I need to tell you what it's not. Quite frankly what this phone is not is it's not for everyone. Look back to our LG Velvet review and you'll see a lot more of the same. It's mostly the same spec sheet up and down the board. You've got the same Snapdragon 765G processor, the same 8GB of memory, the same 128GB of storage, the same 6.8 inch P-OLED screen, and the same MIL-STD 810G toughness. It's all been done before.
Even the differences between the two are minor. The LG Wing has better cameras, including a popup selfie camera for a bezelless display. The LG Velvet has a slightly larger battery. The LG Velvet has a slightly lower price tag, by about a third. There's one other thing.
The LG Wing's screen freaking rotates away to reveal a second screen built into the freaking phone! If you thought this was going to comprise the bulk of our conversation, well you're right. So let's get to it.
The LG Wing 5G gets its name from the look of the phone when the primary screen rotates to landscape leaving the bottom half of the phone portrait and including a 4" secondary display. The first question that needs to be asked is why? I'll tell you why - because it's amazing. First let's get into the mechanism.
When the phone is closed, it looks like an ordinary phone that anyone could buy at any time. When you go to open the phone, the bottom swings out to the left until it forms a capital T shape. Right at the end of the swing, it slows down just a bit so it nicely slides into place with a satisfying click that is less satisfying once you realize it's software making it click. The same click happens when you swing the screen back closed. To use an aerial term, when the wing is slowly sliding into place, it glides. I've opened and closed this phone thousands of times and it just never wears out. I'm talking about both the mechanism and the novelty of it.
The screen rotates on a pivot near the top right of the phone, along a track that arcs from the right all the way up. It feels great with just the slightest jiggle between the two screens. Don't panic. You have to try to jiggle the screen in order to do it. When the screen is open, it can be hard to reach the power and volume rockers on the right of the phone because the screen gets in the way. It's not ideal, but the alternative would be to move the buttons laughably far down the body of the phone and risk accidental touches all the time. I don't mind the buttons being where they are, and it didn't take me long to figure out how to press them, but a software solution might be nice here.
Finishing up the hardware, there is no headphone jack because this phone costs more than $500. The fingerprint reader is an in-screen fingerprint reader. This one is a bit of a miss because when the phone is open, you need to use your second hand to unlock the phone. It's not ideal. This is actually one of the best times i can think of to adopt and on the back fingerprint reader, and LG just didn't. I don't really blame them, but it would have made a lot more sense.
One last note about the LG Wing's hardware, I can't really call it a gaming phone. The main reason is because games with on screen controls like Call of Duty Mobile and Fortnite make it hard to keep the phone closed. I tend to press down rather hard when I'm using on screen controls and very often i found myself creaking the phone open rather than moving my character - or both. Most of the time when I wanted to play games, I just played with the screen open. The bottom screen just sat there waiting for me to do something on it. It made game playing a bit more awkward which is not good when you're ensconced in a battle royale.
When the phone opens, you get a brand new look with a wheel of apps that you can open on the top, and a more typical looking app drawer on the bottom. You also get the ability to launch two apps at once. The thing about the custom interface is, it's not really all that intuitive. It took me weeks to figure out how to add apps to the wheel on the main interface. I actually figured out how to add dual apps before I figured out how to customize a single app.
I blame that a little on google too because of the gesture navigation. If you swipe up from the bottom, nothing happens, but if you swipe up from just over the bottom, you get the app drawer as expected.
Getting back to dual apps, this is definitely handy. I'm the type of person who doesn't use picture in picture all that often, so having a movie playing in full screen while I browsed Google, Twitter, IMDB while a movie played on the second screen was pretty awesome. What makes it even cooler is the Wing's configuration puts the phone in landscape so you get a full immersive experience with the second screen providing just a bit more context.
Moving on to the camera, my video that I uploaded about my 5G testing travels was shot almost exclusively on the LG Velvet. It was mostly in gimbal mode, but there were times I used the main camera. Speaking of gimbal mode, this is my new favorite camera to shoot with ever. Yes it's limited to 1080p. But when you go back and watch that video and realize that almost every shot was hand held, it gets pretty amazing. It is just so smooth. I'm totally fine with the fact that it's limited to 1080p, because that's pretty much what I shoot in anyway.
The gimbal mode allows you to not only do manual pans with your hand, but it also gives you a joystick to control the movement of the camera. When you do, a display shows up on the viewfinder to show you where the camera is pointing. It's really very slick. You can shoot in time lapse and slo motion with the phone open.
Another option is call dual recording. This opens the selfie cam and allows you to shoot with both cameras at the same time. When you do, the files are saved separately and they're both square. Alternatively, you can choose to have them stitched together for you. It's all so very very nice.
Photos are great on this phone. The main sensor is 64 megapixels, binned down to 16 by default. You have two ultrawide sensors, one 13 megapixels and the other 12. One is for ultrawide when shooting with the phone closed. The other is for video with the phone open. I'm not going to nitpick and wish there was a telephoto lens, however i think it's fair to wish that the main ultrawide could have been swapped with a telephoto lens. That way, you could shoot ultrawide with the phone open. However that probably wouldn't have been terribly intuitive.
Overall I’d call camera performance very good. Is it the best I've ever used? That answer is complicated. For video stabilization, it absolutely is. This will be the phone I use when I shoot most of my videos. Going further, is this the best camera I’ve used so far? That’s an arguable point with only the Samsung Galaxy FE being a contender. The iPhone jury is still out.
Getting to performance, i had no problems with this phone in day to day takes. The GeekBench scores for this phone are 577 single core and 1900 multi core, both of which put you on par with the other 765G phones we tested including the LG Velvet. It's basically the equivalent of the Snapdragon 845.
Battery life is not surprisingly one of the weak points on this phone, but then again it has a whole other half screen to power a lot of the time it’s on. When you have both screens on for a bulk of the day, you'll struggle to get through the entire day. Also, I noticed using the camera in Gimbal mode hits the battery hard as well. On both days of my 5G journey, i had to top up the phone a couple of times. Those were extreme days for the phone though, between filming, navigating, and time lapse as well. Overall I’m not disappointed in the battery life. It’s a one-day-but top it off if you’re going out for the night phone.
So where does that leave us? It leaves us with the most exciting phone of the year, hands down. One might argue that the super zoom from periscope lenses on Huawei and Samsung phones is pretty cool. Those might be the most exciting practical innovations that came to phones this year, but this is a rotating phone that hides a second screen. That’s amazing and a feat of engineering. Speaking of which while this phone doesn't have an IP68 rating, it does have an ip 65 splash proof rating which is itself pretty baller.
I love this phone, and i love that LG had the courage to make it. This is rightly a part of LG’s explorers program which means this phone is not for everyone. I can see creators getting a lot of use out of this phone. I can see hard hitting multitaskers getting a lot of use here. $1000 is a lot to pay for a phone that is basically just a concept, but there is one more thing I need to emphasize here.
Arguably the main thing that impresses me about this phone is how finished it feels. There are some questionable decisions, like a lack of wide angle selfie camera. But overall, this feels like a finished product. You would be hard pressed to find anything here that is not done. It feels complete.
Consider the original Galaxy fold. Go back and watch the reviews. As much as people loved the phone, there were some areas that you could point to and say, "that’s not really all that awesome, but it’s a first gen product so they’ll work out the kinks." Samsung very much did in the Z Fold 2.
Now look at the Wing. It is also a first gen product, but there’s nothing really obvious that you can point to and say ohh that wasn’t done right. I’ll grant you that a 4K sensor on the back for gimbal video shooting would be a massive upgrade. You could add a wide angle selfie camera. You could build in some software tweaks that make the phone a bit more intuitive. Yes, all that could be done. Or, you could just ship this phone with the tiny compromises and have yourself a great product.
I love this phone. I love LG for making it. I love the audacity of LG’s explorer’s project. This is an amazing first project, couldn’t have started with a better device. I am absolutely stoked to see what comes next.