Mobiles & Tablets

LG Wing: Flies in the face of convention

Mala Bhargava New Delhi | Updated on December 28, 2020

This smartphone has one swivelling screen sitting on top of another just in case you’re up for some multi-tasking

You want something different? You get something different. At least if LG has anything to do with it. The LG Wing is above all something you won’t have seen elsewhere; an odd experimental idea that the Korean electronics giant has had the courage not to put away in the lab drawer but actually let loose in the wild. Those who buy it may also need a bit of that courage because like anything never tried before, it’s got its element of uncertainty. Is it practical to use on a day to day basis? Is it going to make life easier or more interesting in some way? Is it even worth it? That’s what we’ll try and answer after having used the phone for a few days.

 

What has been most enjoyable about using the LG Wing is getting no shortage of startled reactions from other people who saw it with me. This only highlights the fact that all the other phones around us are barely distinguishable from one another. The Galaxy Fold also gets me the same response, though thickly coated with a lot of envy while the LG Wing clearly makes people wonder at the strange form factor. The disbelief it generated included a lot of ‘Oh my god” and “Why?”

Also read: LG Velvet: Good phone with a curious accessory

The Wing isn’t a folding phone exactly, but it has essentially what could be described as two phones joined at the hip, like Siamese twins. You have to see it to believe it. When you lift this device out of its box, you’ll first of all experience its heft. It’s thick — it can’t not be. And heavy and chunky at 260gms. Well built in terms of sturdiness, yes, but not something that will never be welcomed by a pocket. It’s very, very slippery and really should have had some thoroughly textured back and if you’re opening it up for the first time, the Wing is very likely to take wing and fly right out of your hands. I suppose at the very least, one should use the case provided with it.

Swivel surprise

 

When you get to know this beast a bit, you’ll notice that it’s a sandwich of sorts. When you’ve practiced enough — on a soft surface with lots of cushions — you’ll find you can flick-push the screen from the right side and it will swivel very smoothly over to the left, going on until it softly clicks and fixes in place, leaving you with a T of screens. Both follow one from the other in wallpaper and look, so they look like they belong together in some way. The assembly can also be turned around so that you find yourself holding one screen the usual way and have another smaller one along for the ride on the right side. The two screens are 1080p OLED and look nice enough but don’t belong in the premium category. That is, there’s no high refresh rate and if any phone needed that, it’s the Wing. Not only is it a lot of screen, but it’s also working on a mid-range processor, the Snapdragon 765G. While the phone has good enough RAM at 8GB, it does show some choppiness even when scrolling. It probably could have done with a more responsive screen and more power. The storage variant we used was 128GB expandable with a memory card. This is also a 5G phone. It has an IP54 water and dust resistance rating. Its battery is a 4,000mAh, and while that seems too little for a device that has two screens, the battery life does hold out very well. It also supports wireless and quick charging.

Also read: LG launches two new flagship smartphones in India

The phone runs on Android 10 and LG’s custom interface which while not outright objectionable doesn’t bring anything very great about it. What is worthy of being protested about is the number of pre-installed apps that are quite annoying. With a phone this unusual using a never-before form factor, the software obviously becomes really important. Unless that plays nice with the hardware design, it’s not going to be much use to anyone. Does it? Yes and no. LG has worked on making the smaller screen the one that will be used for input and the larger one making up the horizontal line of the T being the one which will focus on display. So the smaller screen can become the keyboard or game controller. But there aren’t very many apps that ‘divide’ in this way. In some cases, you can choose to view an app either on the large or small screen and this can be useful for times when you want to message while watching a video or use the calculator while searching on the internet or have a browser open while writing email, etc. How often would people really need to do this is a bit of a question and whether users really think it’s worth the trouble of holding a device with awkward ergonomics to do it is another question. Holding the Wing isn’t that easy, once the novelty wears off. The device is heavy, specially top-heavy if used in the T orientation. The sides of both the screens are quite sharp and dig into one’s hands. If you’re left handed, swivelling open the screens is going to be even more awkward and definitely not a one-handed operation. As for using the phone in an un-swivelled mode for the most part, that’s no point because it’s just too thick and heavy. There are other bits of awkwardness with using the Wing. The volume and power buttons become less easily accessible when it’s in open mode, for instance. That’s easily dealt with by becoming accustomed to using the software instead of physical buttons, but it’s still awkward.

 

The cameras on the Wing present some interesting possibilities, or rather, they would if they too had been a little more advanced, specially with indoor and low light use. The main camera is a 64MP and works quite decently in closed mode from the top screen. There are two wide angle cameras ― 13MP and 12MP. But the camera, when used in swivel mode, opens up some interesting possibilities for those who shoot video. First, there’s a gimbal mode in the camera app which appears on the smaller screen. With this, you can hold the phone and pan around the scene and even see stabilisation adjustments on the screen. This is a software trick, not an actual gimbal mechanism, but it’s very interesting. There’s also a 32MP pop-up front camera on this phone, meant specifically to let you do both front and rear video at the same time, putting yourself in the picture, if you happen to be a vlogger. The implementation is fascinating and definitely something that should be taken forward in a future remake of the LG Wing.

What makes the Wing so interesting is really its possibilities rather than its actual uses. As things stand, there aren’t enough built-in or available use cases and the awkward ergonomics get in the way, but one can’t help but wonder where the Wing could fly in its next life.

Price: ₹69,990

Pros: Interesting new concept, smooth strong mechanism, new multitasking possibilities, solid sturdy build, good battery life

Cons: Awkward ergonomics, not enough use cases for form factor, heavy and thick, slippery, underpowered, overpriced

Published on December 28, 2020

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