EletiofeThe LG Wing's Swiveling Screen Proves Phones Can Be...

The LG Wing’s Swiveling Screen Proves Phones Can Be Fun Again


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I wouldn’t have called the last LG phone I reviewed ” too bland” if I knew months later I’d be using an LG phone with a swiveling screen.

The Wing is the first phone from LG’s Explorer Project, an initiative to make weird-looking phones (my words) that try to change the way we use these rectangular slabs. At first it looks like a normal, albeit tall, phone (even taller than the iPhone 12 Pro Max). But with your thumb and a little pressure, you can easily rotate the display left and up into a landscape orientation, uncovering a smaller secondary screen.

In this new T (cross? wing?) shape, the LG Wing is surprisingly successful in achieving its goal—it’s changed the way I use my phone in a small but meaningful way. There are some flaws, but that’s OK. This is a first-gen, early-adopter phone (that’s also $1,000) that most of us shouldn’t buy. LG knows it’s not going to sell millions—that expectation is reserved for its “Universal Line,” which includes traditional smartphones like that “bland” LG Velvet.

Photograph: LG

But much like how a second monitor adds a small benefit to your desktop setup, the LG Wing gives us a new experience that makes using a phone, in certain situations, more efficient. It’s an interesting, and more importantly a fun, take on the smartphone.

The Fulcrum

I typically have the Wing swiveled about a third of the time—almost exclusively when I’m watching a movie or TV show, or playing a game. It’s handy having the mini 3.9-inch screen on the bottom to monitor or use another app simultaneously. Alternatively, you can lock the bottom screen and use it as a glorified grip to prevent accidental taps, or turn it into a trackpad to use on websites not designed for touch.

I like using it to watch The Office for the zillionth time on the swiveled screen while browsing Twitter, Instagram, or Reddit on the bottom. I also like playing games on the top screen and leaving messaging apps open below so it’s easy to dive in and out of conversations. One time I even went into swivel mode during a customer support call and used the bottom screen to find an order number in Gmail. No app switching needed!

Its true utility came into view when I realized I could plop the swiveled phone into my bike mount. I put Google Maps on the extra wide top screen and YouTube Music on the bottom. It was chef’s kiss—amazing. There I was, biking around the streets of Brooklyn (with a face mask), glancing at the top screen to see when I needed to make a turn, while also easily controlling my music. Stopped at a traffic light, I also used the bottom screen to call my parents—all without worrying about closing the Maps app up top.

Photograph: LG

These abilities do come with compromises. Most Android apps aren’t designed for landscape mode (some will even lock to portrait orientation), so your options for the swiveled out 6.8-inch screen are really limited to visual media. The 3.9-inch bottom display might be too cramped for a comfortable browsing experience in certain apps.

The phone is also huge and heavy. It weighs a whopping 32 grams more than the iPhone 12 Pro Max. When you swivel the display before unlocking the phone, the in-display fingerprint sensor moves to a very awkward and difficult-to-reach spot, something that could’ve easily been counteracted with a rear sensor. Oh, and the single bottom-firing speaker is way too easy to block and doesn’t get very loud.

Perhaps the biggest drawback is LG’s keyboard. It’s bad. It never understands my swipe typing, and I frequently apologize to friends and family for sending them confusing messages. Sadly, switching to a better keyboard like Google’s Gboard means it’s impossible to type in swivel mode. Gboard doesn’t understand there are two screens, so instead of opening on the smaller screen, it launches on the larger one in landscape mode and covers it up.

If you unswivel the screen, you’re left with an ordinary phone. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chip and 8 gigabytes of RAM make it run most apps and games decently well; the 4,000-mAh battery lasts a full day; and the bright OLED screens look wonderful. It even has IP54 splash resistance, which is better than the zero water resistance you’ll find on folding phones—and has wireless charging and a MicroSD card slot.

A Portable Gimbal

Another trick LG is leveraging with the Wing is incorporating a gimbal-like feature into the camera system for super steady video clips.

This is employed by the 12-megapixel ultrawide with “Hexa Motion Sensors,” which can only be used in swivel mode as it enables special controls on the mini screen. Here, you can use a digital joystick to pan and tilt the camera, and there are three shooting modes that make it very easy to get smooth footage out of this camera (though it can still look jittery when walking). It’s aided by the fact that you’re holding the phone by the bottom screen like a grip, introducing less camera shake.

The problem? When using the gimbal you’re relegated to an HD (1080p) pixel resolution, and the camera is just not up to snuff. Footage looks poor no matter the lighting. If you use the camera in the phone’s more traditional un-swiveled state, the 4K video output is miles better.

The new LG Wing comes with a gimbal-like feature that enables steadier video capture. But it only works when the phone is in swivel mode, and the resolution can be limiting.

The 64-megapixel main camera and a 13-megapixel ultrawide flanking this gimbal camera are capable enough for photos. There’s often good detail, but colors are sometimes off, and it struggles in low light. You can get much better results on cheaper phones like Google’s Pixels, the iPhone 12, and Samsung’s Galaxy S20 FE.

There’s a selfie camera too! It’s a pop-up camera that (loudly) rolls out at the top when you switch to selfie mode. You can film with the rear and front camera at the same time, which is a nice option for reaction videos.

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Photograph: Julian Chokkattu

Explore Away

LG is moving to an increasingly frustrating approach of only selling locked phones directly from carriers, meaning if you ever want to switch networks (or sell your phone), you’re in for a harrowing experience. This Wing is available from Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, and if you’re like me, you’ll spend an hour deleting all the pre-installed bloatware.

Overall, I’ve been shocked by how well everything works. It snaps out and back into place perfectly, I’ve rarely encountered any major bugs, and I love that it remembers what app you had open when you swivel out. I’d love to see this kind of polish on other weird, wacky phones like the Microsoft Surface Duo.

The LG Wing also reaffirms one trend we’ve been seeing all year: Phones are finally becoming fun again, if you can afford the $1,000+ price of admission. As these new ideas get cheaper, we won’t need to settle for a boring, single-screen phone anymore. The future has a little more swivel than that.

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