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LG Wing hands-on: Here's what it's like to actually use the weird swiveling phone

The dual-screen LG Wing has a unique design and a built-in gimbal.

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The dual-screen LG Wing

Angela Lang/CNET

These days, phones are either rectangular slabs with one straight screen or, in the case of the Galaxy Z Fold 2 or Motorola Razr 5G, they're slabs with flexible screens that open up. But the LG Wing is neither. Instead, it's a phone with two screens, one of which swivels on top of the other.

Yes, it's weird and yes, it's probably going to be expensive (at the time of this writing LG hasn't released pricing yet). But the design isn't as crazy or pointless as it seems. After pushing through the initial learning curve, which does take some time, my experience with multitasking and recording video got a boost thanks to the Wing's unusual shape.

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The LG Wing isn't for everybody, and LG knows this. Its bulkier design and potentially steep price will automatically lead to many people writing it off. Also, not all apps will accommodate the two screens. Nevertheless, I appreciate LG's willingness to try something different. Swivel phones aren't exactly new, even if they aren't around much anymore: The VX9400 from 2007, for instance, is an early example of an LG phone with a similar design, and I myself owned a beloved Nokia 7370, which featured a screen that swiveled out as smoothly as a switchblade comb. But LG has applied that design thoughtfully enough for this current era of phones.

Whether or not people are willing to pay to give its vision a shot is the big question. A phone like this could easily cost more than $1,000. While it's not impossible to sell an expensive handset amid a pandemic when everyone is more budget-conscious, as Samsung has shown with its Galaxy Note 20, it's certainly risky to do so. And LG's record of selling experimental phones isn't stellar. Its modular G5 from 2016 and curved G Flex from 2014 weren't exactly top sellers. But fitting "more screen in less space" is always appealing, and the LG Wing, at the very least, executes its own concept well. 

In the US the LG Wing will be available first on Verizon, then AT&T in the fall and T-Mobile -- all on their respective 5G networks. 

LG Wing design: Spin me right round

I spent time with a preproduction model and found that the LG Wing is a straightforward phone when it's closed. It has a 6.8-inch display, wireless charging and an in-screen fingerprint reader. But it's also missing a few things that other LG phones have. It doesn't have a headphone jack, which LG usually keeps, and it doesn't have a formal IP rating for water protection.

And while it's not as heavy and thick as the Galaxy Z Fold 2 when it's folded, the LG Wing is still thicker and heavier than regular phones. It's about a third thicker than most phones, not twice like I first assumed, because the top panel is thinner than the bottom.

The phone only opens in one direction, clockwise, so to open it single-handedly, it should be in the right hand. (I'm a left-hander and I thought mine was broken and stuck when I first tried to open it, but it wasn't.) The motion does require some carry-through with the thumb, and if I didn't slide it strong enough, the top display would stop short of clicking straight. But most of the time it rotated fine and the mechanism feels sturdy. While I didn't go buck wild trying to rip these two displays apart, I didn't feel like I needed to be any more careful with it than with any other premium phone. LG estimates that the phone is durable enough to survive 200,000 rotations over the course of five years. If you want more protection, LG is working on cases, but those will undoubtedly add more bulk.  

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The phone has a 6.8-inch display on top that rotates clockwise.

Angela Lang/CNET

LG Wing's 2 displays do double duty

Once the phone's open, you can do a variety of things in a variety of orientations. Multitasking is the most obvious benefit, like watching YouTube while looking up something on the web. If you're talking to a buddy over the phone and want to check your calendar to schedule a time to meet up, you can do that too. My favorite way to use it is having Maps display on the larger screen and music controls on the other one. This is especially useful in the car, when I want to skip tracks without fussing too much with the phone and taking my eyes off the road. Given the bulk of the Wing though, I suggest having a sturdy phone mount. When I found myself opening the same pair of apps often (Maps and Spotify, for instance), I paired them so they could launch quickly together. 

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The back of the phone when opened.

Angela Lang/CNET

When held upside down, the phone opens up different experiences for gameplay. I played the racing game Asphalt 9 this way, with the bigger screen displaying the main gameplay and the smaller one displaying a roadmap. I'm not convinced this was useful, though. Plus the phone is top-heavy when held upside down, so it was uncomfortable to hold the thinly edged display in my hands after a while.

Having two screens to navigate one app is interesting too. With messaging, for instance, I can view a large part of the conversation while texting. But as I mentioned before, not every app is optimized. For instance, I'd love to watch a YouTube video while reading comments on the other screen, but I couldn't do that on the phone. And if you don't want to use the bottom display much at all, it can be turned into either a trackpad to navigate the top display, or blacked out completely and used as a physical grip.

3 cameras and a gimbal

The Wing has three rear cameras: one standard camera and two ultra-wide cameras. One of the ultra-wide cameras has a gimbal inside, which is similar to the Vivo X50 Pro. Gimbals are used to stabilize and balance video even when you're moving around a lot. LG added a special Gimbal Mode with extra controls as well, so you can pan and follow your subject as they move. 

My video footage was steady, even as I was recording while walking quickly. Video looked more stable than the one recorded on the iPhone XS, which we happened to have on hand, and footage from the LG Wing lacked that pulsing effect the iPhone had too. When it came to picture quality though, colors were more true-to-life and objects looked smoother on the iPhone. On the front is a 32-megapixel camera embedded inside the phone and popup from out of the top edge when in use, which is a lot like the OnePlus 7 Pro, Vivo Nex and Oppo Reno 2. The selfies I took were bright, in-focus and clear.

Videographers may be interested in the suite of tools the LG Wing has, and Gimbal Mode adds an extra layer of control and creativity. Gripping the phone vertically while shooting horizontally also made it comfortable to shoot video. But if you're a casual video-taker, this isn't a must-have, and current iPhones and Pixel phones have excellent video stabilization features too. 

In bright, ample lighting the phone takes vibrant and clear pictures.

Lynn La/CNET

Another outdoor image taken on the LG Wing.

Lynn La/CNET

In this closeup shot, the flower petals on the foreground are in focus and sharp.

Lynn La/CNET

A photo taken with the phone's pop-up front-facing camera.

Lynn La/CNET

LG Wing's hardware and other specs

Powering the phone is a Snapdragon 765G chipset and a 4,000-mAh battery. Since I got a preproduction unit, I didn't conduct battery tests. Anecdotally though, the Wing had a decent battery life. With medium usage of both screens it was able to last a full day without charging.

LG Wing 5G specs

Display size, resolution Main screen: 6.8-inch OLED; 2,460x1,080 pixels. Second screen: 3.9-inch OLED; 1,240x1,080 pixels
Pixel density Main screen: 395ppi. Second screen: 419ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 6.67x2.93x0.43 inches
Dimensions (Millimeters) 169.5x74.5x10.9 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 9.17 oz; 260g
Mobile software Android 10
Camera 64-megapixel (standard), 13-megapixel (ultra-wide), 12-megapixel (ultrawide)
Front-facing camera 32-megapixel
Video capture 4K
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G
Storage 256GB
RAM 8GB
Expandable storage Up to 2TB
Battery 4,000 mAh
Fingerprint sensor In-screen
Connector USB-C
Headphone jack No
Special features Swivel screen design; gimbal camera; wireless charging
Price off-contract (USD) TBD
Price (GBP) TBD
Price (AUD) TBD