LG has been making been a lot of waves with last year consisting of numerous announcements, their Wing device being the most recent. The device was always going to be an attention grabber that would turn most heads no matter where you took it with. I’ve seen this in action myself while taking it out for a spin. If anything, it forces most of us to rethink how we view smartphones and this is where LG deserves the most kudos with plenty more out of the box thinking rumoured to be on the horizon.
The Wing’s standout feature is its swivel capability that, at first I admit, viewed as just another gimmick created in light of the current smartphone wars which currently consists of everyone trying to standout in some way or another. That was my initial view, and after spending some time with the device I’ve since relaxed that stance. The feature mainly aims to make multitasking a breeze and a little easier when using a handheld device.
It’s also clear that this device is built for those who want something different – creatives (who rely on their handheld devices to capture images and video content) mostly falling under the spotlight. Gamers would also have a lot of fun with this one which offers great options and capabilities for game-play – the screen adjusts at every angle you turn it and while playing games, the top screen can be flipped outside down and act as a controls pad.
When it was first announced with local pricing included, LG mentioned that the Wing will be the first product from its new “Explorer Project”, a concept that focuses on exploring ways to “breathe new life into what makes a smartphone.” Anyone would be forgiven for thinking that this is just another smartphone we could do without but is that really the case with the Wing?
There’s no doubt the LG Wing looks cool but at R20,000 it’s also quite expensive and puts it on par with other high end devices such as the iPhone 12 Pro, the Galaxy S20 and other devices in the same bracket. Some might argue that it’s quite a lot to shell out for something that maybe considered gimmicky and a device that isn’t practical for the everyday user. That’s probably going to be the main argument around it no matter where you go and this will be the case for as long as it’s under the spotlight.
The Design Aspects
At first glance it looks like any other Android smartphone but while in-hand the bulkiness and extra weight makes you realize that there may be more to it. Despite the difference in size compared to most phones, the Wing manages to feel and look premium with an elegant matte aluminum frame and mirrored glass back, completed by a triple-lens rear camera. It has a 6.8-inch, 9:20.5 OLED display which is quite beautiful and is 0.43 inches (10.9mm) thick – credit to LG’s design team here as it still manages to feel quite compact despite.
The unique nature of the phone comes in the minute you flick the lower right corner of the phone which swivels around, transforming into a horizontal orientation which reveals a second, 3.9-inch OLED screen underneath. Upon completing the swivel exercise you’ll immediately be greeted by what LG refers to as the Swivel Home, which displays large app shortcuts in a horizontal fashion.
Interestingly, LG confirmed that the Wing is built to withstand 200,000 swivels, which (again) the company estimates to last anyone for at least five years… whether this is a good or bad thing is up for debate. For those wondering how practical the entire exercise is and whether or not you should be worried then fear not as I found the entire motion to be very solid and sturdy.
For those who aren’t aware, LG is actually one of the lone smartphone makers who are committed to the 3.5-millimeter headphone jack, so it was interesting to see that this isn’t the case with the Wing and that’s mainly due to the amount of room there is which there isn’t a lot of honestly. It’s understandable then especially when also factoring the fact that LG also had to cleverly stash the front-facing selfie camera inside a motorized pop-out mechanism.
The Dual-Screen Experience and Software
As mentioned prior, when I first saw the device when it was first previewed I wasn’t too sure about it. I was also interested to see how the entire dual-screen experience (which in this instance is unique) would translate in real life while also factoring in the software. The company has managed to devise some clever ways and uses for the extra real estate when you’re not multitasking.
For example, let’s say you are streaming your favorite Netflix series or are watching a Youtube video in portrait mode, and then you decide to flick the screen sideways, the content you’re consuming will automatically switch to landscape form but in a cropped fashion. The small screen meanwhile will then be available to use for playback controls and volume and brightness sliders.
The Wing has normal qualities you would expect from an upper midrange Android smartphone. It has a Snapdragon 765G, combined with 8GB of RAM, which makes for a fairly smooth experience while using the phone. Its 4,000mAh battery ensures you will have a device that will last a full day despite heavy use of both displays.
The LG Wing has a total of four cameras, one 32MP front facing pop-up camera and three at the back. The latter cameras aren’t included just for show and each has a specific job. The bottom one is a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera with a physically rotated sensor that’s dedicated to the Wing’s “gimbal mode.” The middle 13-megapixel (also ultrawide) camera is used for when holding the phone regularly, and lastly, the main camera sits at the top and is a 64-megapixel which assists both cameras and further sharpens images produced.
Speaking of image quality, the Wing’s camera produced crisp and great quality images that genuinely found me very impressed. Having said that though I’m not particularly a fan of the wide aspect which made the images seem stretched out more than usual and while zooming in on them, the images tended to get fuzzier than usual with the night shots (relying on low light features) being okay yet not mind blowing per se.
What truly stands out while utilizing the camera and recording features is the gimbal mode feature which redefines the art of both capturing photos and recording. Designed to work as a phone grip, this is the unique aspect of the Wing which is quite fun to play around. The main display shows the video output, while the smaller panel acts as a fully functioning grip, complete with gimbal controls that offer you options of navigation. Despite it looking like the camera is performing the same way an actual gimbal mount would, it’s clear that the Wing’s unique mode isn’t rotating around on a different axis, it’s instead almost entirely software-based.
Dual recording also forms of the Wing and when coupled with the Gimbal mode, it makes for a fantastic combination. LG did a great job here, with footage staying fairly solid and stable throughout despite whatever shakiness there maybe while moving around. It neatly splits the top screen into two allowing you to see both the front and back end of the device on one screen, this effectively takes full advantage of both the selfie and rear end cameras.
When it comes to the Wing, LG are certainly being bold and this will no doubt make onlookers view the company in a different light. The device is solidly built and its unique gimbal mode raises the bar in smartphone conceptual design. Effectively being the first device to come out of the Explorer Project which seeks to redefine how we view and use smartphones, there’s no doubt that LG has achieved that with the Wing and I for one can’t wait to see what is going to come out next in this project.
The Wing does its job adequately and ensures that you are getting what you would need from a smartphone of its caliber. Having said that however, there are a few niggly issues I encountered, one of the main ones being the fact that it’s not practical and despite its compact nature, its heftiness presents a couple of challenges while carrying it around. Add the R20,000 price tag and you start to worry about how it’s going to perform in terms of sales and total units sold. Hopefully I’m proven wrong here.
This device is the company’s attempt to swing (see what I did there?) for the fences that’s not quite there yet, but an attempt nonetheless. It’s one that’s bold, refreshing and great to see from the tech giant who have tended to lag behind in the highly competitive smartphone wars and has largely been classified with being stale. lacking innovation and staying safe. That was then and you certainly can’t classify them in that light anymore, not least with the line of smartphones they’ve produced lately, their Wing smartphone being the most adventurous project yet.
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