South Korean tech firm LG has unveiled a smartphone with a larger screen which swivels out to reveal a second, smaller one underneath.
The Wing’s second screen can either act independently of the larger screen while it is displaying a film, for example, or can complement it as a controller for gaming and media.
However, some of this functionality relies on using pre-installed browsers.
One expert said it was one of the “more radical designs” he had seen.
The New LG Smartphone
“It’s a very tricky design to evaluate without using it – it is reminiscent of some of the designs we saw from Japan back in the late 2000s,” Ben Wood from the consultancy CCS Insight said, noting it was unlike any of the folding-screen designs that several of LG’s rivals have recently focused on.
“You have to applaud LG for experimenting. Ultimately it will be up to consumers to decide whether its an approach that works.”
The 5G device also has three cameras on the back and a fourth pop-up lens.
LG said the Wing phone would initially launch in South Korea next month.
North America and European launches would follow, it added, but the handset price has yet to be revealed.
The firm has taken some steps to reduce potential damage to the amount of moving hardware on the device.
The internal accelerometer, which monitors motion, detects if the smartphone is being dropped and the pop-up camera will retract if it is in use, LG says.
The hinge of the swivel screen is equipped with a hydraulic shock absorber, and the back of the main screen has a coating to prevent it scratching the smaller screen underneath.
LG claims the hinge is “still reliable” after 200,000 swivels, although it’s not clear how much time this would be likely to take.
The Wing doesn’t just have to be used in a landscape format, either. LG is just as enthusiastic about using the main display in a standard candy-bar “portrait” mode as it is the more obvious widescreen format, with the secondary panel serving as an auxiliary display of sorts while you navigate on Google Maps or read the latest document from work. The secondary half display can also be disabled while flipped out using a “grip lock” feature, allowing you to use it as a useful handle when watching a movie, for example.
THERE’S A BUILT-IN GIMBAL MODE
The Wing’s unique form factor also leads to one of the phone’s most interesting features: a “gimbal mode” that allows for the secondary display to be used as a grip, complete with joystick controls for adjusting the camera. LG actually included a second dedicated ultrawide camera on the back to capture footage while the main display is in its swiveled landscape mode (with a rotated sensor to match the orientation). It’s also equipped with a new “hexa motion” sensor that the company says helps avoid interference. The Wing can also shoot in a dual recording mode, capturing video from the front and rear cameras at the same time.
Obviously, with so many moving parts here, there are plenty of concerns about durability and longevity. LG says that it’s aware of those concerns and promises that the Wing will hold up. It’s also working on cases that will be compatible with the swiveling design, something that takes a bit more work than a traditional phone case.
The rest of the hardware for the LG Wing is fairly ordinary. There’s a Snapdragon 765G processor with Qualcomm’s integrated X52 modem for 5G support, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, a 4,000mAh battery, an in-display fingerprint sensor, and support for wireless charging. The biggest omission, of course, is any waterproofing — something to be expected on a phone with this many moving parts.
THE REST OF THE HARDWARE IS FAIRLY STANDARD
The second display also adds to the thickness and bulk of the phone, although not as much as, say, the self-contained full-size screen cases that LG’s used in the past. The Wing measures in at 9.17 ounces (260g) and 0.43 inches thick — for comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, with a similar-sized display, weighs 7.76-ounces (220g) and is 0.35 inches thick.
The LG Wing also features a pop-up 32-megapixel front-facing camera, along with a triple-camera setup on the back of the device. There’s a 64-megapixel main camera, a 13-megapixel “regular” ultrawide, and the aforementioned 12-megapixel “gimbal mode” ultrawide that’s dedicated to the landscape mode.
LG says that the Wing will be released in the US on Verizon first, followed by AT&T and T-Mobile. LG says that price, release date, color options, and specs will vary by network partner, which means that we might see a split between a sub-6GHz LG Wing model for AT&T and T-Mobile and a pricier mmWave version that’s exclusive to Verizon, similar to the previously released LG Velvet. That said, as of now, the company has yet to announce even a vague release window or price estimate for the upcoming device.