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LG Wing hands-on preview: The weirdest phone of 2020?

Lg Wing Preview
Lg Wing Preview (Image credit: Alex Dobie / Android Central)

LG hasn't shied away from weird form factors over the years. If you're an Android veteran, you might remember the "self-healing" G Flex 2, or the modular LG G5 phone. More recently, the company has rediscovered its experimental streak, with dual-screeners like the Velvet and V60.

And now we have the new LG Explorer Project, designed to showcase unconventional and wacky new designs. The first of those is the just-launched LG Wing, a dual-screen phone with a secondary rotating display, built upon the hardware foundations of the Velvet.

It's an unusual concept for sure, and LG's recent launch event showed off plenty of unique use cases for this kind of dual-display device: everything from watching YouTube while doomscrolling through Twitter, to custom gaming setups, and even a miniature virtual trackpad.

We'll be publishing an initial hands-on review of the LG Wing soon. But for now, we wanted to offer some first impressions of what might be the strangest Android phone of 2020, based on our first few hours with a pre-production LG Wing.

LG Wing: The basics

LG Wing Preview

Source: Alex Dobie / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Alex Dobie / Android Central)

The Wing's core specs borrow heavily from LG's mid-tier Velvet handset. Like that phone, it's powered by a Snapdragon 765G chipset, with 8GB of RAM, and packs a curved Full HD+ primary display.

But picking up the Wing for the first time reveals that this is a very different class of phone. Weighing in at 260g, the Wing is a full 40g heavier than the already chunky Galaxy S20 Ultra. And with a 6.8-inch display diagonal, it's not far off the footprint of Samsung's largest phones either.

The LG Wing is an absolute unit, but also a thing of beauty.

LG's hardware designs have improved considerably throughout 2020, and the Wing is easily the best-looking handset the company has produced. Although unquestionably big and bulky, the matte back panel, chamfered translucent camera hump and pearlescent finish make the Wing a very pretty phone indeed.

What's more, for the hole-punch and notch-averse, there's no display cutout of any kind to blemish the Wing's main display, thanks to the use of a OnePlus 7 Pro-style popup selfie camera.

LG Wing Preview

Source: Alex Dobie / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Alex Dobie / Android Central)
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LG Wing Preview

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LG Wing Preview

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LG Wing Preview

Inside there's a 4,000mAh battery, supporting Quick Charge 4+ and Qi Wireless charging, so Wing owners get a decent amount of juice and plenty of charging options for your $1,000. (Though it remains to be seen how much extra power will be drawn by the secondary panel.)

It's also more durable than you might expect form a phone with a hinge, with MIL-STD 810G compliance and IP54 water and dust resistance.

LG Wing specifications

CategoryFeatures
ChipsetQualcomm Snapdragon 765G
Main Display6.8-inch 20.5:9 FHD+ P-OLED FullVision (2,460 x 1,080 / 395ppi)
Second Screen3.9-inch 1.15:1 G-OLED (1,240 x 1,080 / 419ppi)
RAM8GB
Storage128-256GB + SD
Main Camera64MP OIS f/1.8 78-degree 0.8-micron
Ultrawide 113MP f/1.9 117-degree 1.0-micron
Ultrawide 212MP f/2.2 120-degree 1.4-micron
Front Camera32MP f/1.9 79.6-degree 0.8-micron
Battery4,000mAh
OSAndroid 10
Size169.5 x 74.5 x 10.9 mm
Weight260g
Network3G/4G/5G
ConnectionWi-Fi 802.11 a, b, g, n, ac / Bluetooth 5.1 / NFC / USB Type-C (USB 3.1 Gen 1 Compatible)
ColorsAurora Gray / Illusion Sky
OthersGimbal Motion Camera / Front Pop Up Camera / Hexa Motion Stabilizer / LG Creator's Kit / LG Pay / Dual Recording / Black Stabilizer / LG 3D Sound Engine / AI CAM / Q Lens / Google Lens / Google Assistant / In-Display Fingerprint Sensor / IP54 Water and Dust Resistance / Qualcomm ® Quick Charge(TM 4.0+ Technology / Wireless Charging / MIL -STD 810G Compliance (Passed 9 categories of tests in Basic Mode.)

Of course, the main panel of the LG Wing is only half the story. The second 3.8-inch display sits below the main screen -- or to the side, depending on how you're holding it. It's this panel that enables all the Wing's extra functionality -- the pay-off for using such a chonktastic phone.

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LG Wing Preview

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LG Wing Preview

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LG Wing Preview

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LG Wing Preview

A unique triple camera setup enables a virtual gimbal mode.

LG has put considerable engineering effort behind the hinge of the Wing, and it shows. The swivel mechanism is smooth, and thanks to the unique pneumatic mechanism inside, eases gently into its fully opened-out position.

If you like to annoy passers-by, you can even set the Wing to trigger one of a handful of sound effects when it opens and closes. Please don't do that, though.

Meanwhile, around the back, the Wing features considerable camera upgrades from the LG Velvet, with a new optically-stabilized 64-megapixel sensor behind an f/1.8 lens. The other two rear cameras are both ultrawide units -- one for standard wider views of scenic places, another for the built-in software gimbal mode. We'll dig deeper into that in our full review, but basically this allows you to hold the Wing opened out, and shoot super-stable landscape video while holding the phone in portrait.

LG Wing: First impressions

LG Wing Preview

Source: Alex Dobie / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Alex Dobie / Android Central)

There's a mountain of extra functionality to be discovered behind the Wing's dual-screen setup. At a basic level, just like any other dual-screen phone, you can use the main screen for standard phone apps, and have a video window or social feed open in the secondary display. It's even possible to have two video apps open at the same time on both screens, if for some reason that's a thing you want to do.

Dual-screen software tricks aplenty, with some rough edges.

Obviously you're limited in what you can do with a 3.8-inch square-ish display, but it's more than enough for tweeting, emailing or even browsing while watching YouTube or Netflix. Likewise, in two-handed mode, with the secondary display sticking out the side of the main panel, that small screen works pretty well for YouTube videos -- or juggling tweets and web browsing.

Some apps can also take over the secondary display, like YouTube, which gives you playback, brightness and volume controls. (That's a good thing, because reaching the physical volume keys with the screen opened out is pretty awkward.)

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LG Wing Preview

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LG Wing Preview

What's also awkward is how many apps have to be manually whitelisted to use the smaller secondary display. By default, apps like Twitter won't appear in the app drawer of the second screen unless you manually enable them.

Similarly, I'm not a fan of LG's carousel-like app home screen for the primary display when it's unfurled. It's designed to surface most-used apps -- and you can always swipe up to go to the app drawer -- but it feels a little clumsy to use right now. That said, our unit is on extremely early firmware, so there's time for that to change.

There are many software features in "Swivel Mode" that make a lot of sense though. The quick settings panel for the second screen has been redesigned to give you quick access to volume controls. There's also "Grip Lock," which disables touch input to let you use the second screen as a glorified handle for the main panel. And the LG Touchpad does exactly what you'd imagine, repurposing the second screen to control a virtual mouse pointer on the main panel.

LG Wing: More to come

We're just scratching the surface of what the LG Velvet can do, after only a few hours with the phone. It's going to take some time to get to grips with this very unusual form factor, and the extra functionality LG has built into it.

However this phone ultimately shakes out, there's no question the LG Wing has made the mobile market of 2020 a weirder and more interesting place.

Alex Dobie
Alex Dobie

Alex is global Executive Editor for Android Central, and is usually found in the UK. He has been blogging since before it was called that, and currently most of his time is spent leading video for AC, which involves pointing a camera at phones and speaking words at a microphone. He would just love to hear your thoughts at alex@androidcentral.com, or on the social things at @alexdobie.

6 Comments
  • I would suggest taking a look at the unbox therapy review on YouTube before commenting on this phone, I thought it was just a stupid gimmick till I watched the video and was surprised at some of the cool and unexpected things it can do.
  • So the question for me is the support for the smaller screen.
    Does it require special coding from developers or LG? If so then this phone would be a total pass because outside of whatever was done for launch of this chances are zero to none you will ever get any additional support.
    Its just to niche of a product.
  • I agree with ACorns65. Much more impressed than I expected. This is a more creative, useful, flexible, pocketable, durable, car-mountable solution to my known and even unanticipated uses for more screen real estate than the Fold 2 or the Duo, let alone the retro and not much else Razr. It also bodes to be considerably more cost-effective (if $1000 or under). The several hands on takes I've read also show a mostly very well thought out implementation of the design goals even in this pre-production model. Your own take was in the same vein except for its beginning. Why saddle the device with the adjective "wacky" when what it really comes across as is nifty, cool, and outside the slab phone box? Normally I'd be of a mind to wait for second iteration of a whole new form factor, and a 120 frame rate and higher res would be great, but I've been holding on for awhile waiting for something that checked enough boxes for me. My trusty LG V30 still works great after more than three years of daily use and hundreds of small and a few large drops, but is starting to get long in the tooth. So if the price is right and the full reviews don't have any showstoppers, I'm a buyer after it's successfully on the market for a month or two. And if more app developers start to sign on, I feel like LG could have at least a bit of a hit on their hands.
  • I would given this weird phone a go if they had sold official US unlocked model in the US. But they continue to bend over back to US carriers and I refuse to buy carrier variants.
  • I live in an area where AT&T is literally the only show in town. So unlocked devices won't do you any good if you want wifi calling and other perks. I really miss T-mobile where I used to live. With TM, you could buy an unlocked device and get wifi calling and everything else with it. Was great for traveling overseas.
    The Wing is a device worth looking at. I always thought the G5 was a briliant design. Just too bad LG has such a terrible track record on OS and security updates.
  • I could see shooting landscape while holding it in the "T" configuration. I can already most of the tricks they had in their demo video with several cameras, but the gimbal feature is something that needs to be tested. We shot a broadcast quality video with our gimbal sitting in its case, just because the phone's video stabilization was so good we didn't need it. Can the wing exceed that?