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LG Wine Smart Smartphone Review

Florian Wimmer, Tanja Hinum (translated by Bernie Pechlaner), 12/17/2015

Flipside. A retro-smartphone? A smart flip-phone? The LG Wine Smart is both at the same time and even comes with the still-current Android 5.1. A small display is unfortunately only one of the drawbacks inherent in the design.

For the original German review, see here.

The wave of various retro-designs has engulfed smartphones as well and manufacturers like Samsung now offer flip (smart)phones. LG's entry goes by "LG Gentle" in Asia; in Europe the offering carries the somewhat awkward name "LG Wine Smart."

Equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 CPU, 3.2-inch display, 1 GB RAM and 4 GB of storage (expandable with a MicroSD card), the LG Wine Smart offers entry-level hardware and sells for a street price of about 160 Euros (~$175). Operating the smartphone is possible via the classic key pad or the touchscreen. Whether this design is truly contemporary or just a bad compromise is the subject of our review. 

LG Wine Smart
Graphics adapter
Memory
1024 MB 
Display
3.2 inch 16:9, 480 x 320 pixel, capacitive touchscreen, TN LED, glossy: yes
Storage
4 GB Flash, 4 GB 
, 1.41 GB free
Connections
1 USB 2.0, Audio Connections: 3.5 audio combo-port, Card Reader: microSD up to 32 GB, Sensors: GPS, position, gyro
Networking
802.11 b/g/n (b/g/n), Bluetooth 4.1, GSM (850/900/1800/1900), UMTS (850/900/1900/2100), LTE (B3/B7/B8/B20)
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 16.6 x 117.7 x 58.7 ( = 0.65 x 4.63 x 2.31 in)
Battery
7 Wh Lithium-Ion, 1700 mAH, Battery runtime (according to manufacturer): 970 h, Talk time 2G (according to manufacturer): 19 h, Talk time 3G (according to manufacturer): 13 h
Operating System
Android 5.1 Lollipop
Camera
Webcam: 3.2MP (back); 0.3MP (front)
Additional features
Speakers: speaker on the back, Keyboard: virtual keyboard, Keyboard Light: yes, headset, power adapter, LG Backup, Safety Care, 24 Months Warranty, Micro-SIM, FM radio
Weight
143 g ( = 5.04 oz / 0.32 pounds), Power Supply: 49 g ( = 1.73 oz / 0.11 pounds)
Price
179 Euro
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Case

Glossy, burgundy-red faux leather, plastic that looks like brushed aluminum: considering the affordable price, LG went to great lengths to spruce up the smartphone. Alternatively, the LG Wine Smart is also available in a dark blue color. There's no external display, which we would have expected - after all, this is a flip phone. A single LED alerts the user to a missed call or other notification.

The back cover is removable and allows access to the (swappable) battery as well as the Micro-SIM card and the microSD card slots. We like the fact that the microSD card can be swapped out without removing the battery.   

Compared to modern smartphones, the LG Wine Smart is somewhat bulky with its thickness of 16.6 mm. The overall stability is not that great and especially the display unit is fragile and flexes when pressure is applied.

142.6 mm / 5.61 inch 72.1 mm / 2.84 inch 9.35 mm / 0.3681 inch 122 g0.269 lbs143 mm / 5.63 inch 71 mm / 2.8 inch 8.5 mm / 0.3346 inch 125 g0.2756 lbs129 mm / 5.08 inch 68.2 mm / 2.69 inch 8.9 mm / 0.3504 inch 122 g0.269 lbs117.7 mm / 4.63 inch 58.7 mm / 2.31 inch 16.6 mm / 0.654 inch 143 g0.3153 lbs

Connectivity

Except for a micro-USB 2.0 port and a 3.5 mm headphone jack, the LG Wine Smart is lacking any additional physical ports. 

Software

Home screen
Home screen

LG ships the Wine Smart with the current Android 5.1. Even though Android 6.0 is available already, not a lot of phones are equipped as such. Operating the phone with the physical keys or the small touchscreen might feel awkward at first, but it actually works pretty well.

LG doesn't preinstall a lot of software and the OS itself is only slightly modified from the original Android version. There's an app for emergencies and a backup solution from LG. The advantage is that the user doesn't have to uninstall a lot of bloatware. Applications can also be moved to the microSD card.

Communication & GPS

The LG Wine Smart offers LTE but only supports quad-band. GSM and UMTS are limited to four frequencies each as well, so the smartphone is by no means a "global" phone. WLAN 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.1 are par for the course for this price class.

Ten meters from our router and through three walls, the signal strength had dropped to about 50% and the reception quality was diminished with pages loading noticeably slower than they would closer to the router. Surfing the web is a bit of a chore since the display only measures 3.2-inches.

Telephone & Sound Quality

Since the phone features physical keys, the phone app works not quite like it would on a "normal" Android 5.1-equipped phone. For one, the functions - for example, the list of received calls - are now actual apps. Pushing a key starts the phone application; at this point the user can simply dial a number.

The sound quality is OK, but the microphone is less satisfactory and our partner did complain about our voices sounding muffled.

Cameras & Multimedia

Front-facing camera
Front-facing camera

Unlike current smartphones, the LG Wine Smart isn't equipped with high-end cameras. The rear-facing camera offers a resolution of 3.2 MP, the front-facing camera only 0.3 MP. As a result, the photos of the rear-facing camera are small in size. A flash-LED is lacking as well. The color reproduction is pretty decent, but the details suffer thanks to the low resolution.

The picture quality of the front-facing camera is not even sufficient for selfies. One positive aspect: both cameras handle low light pretty well.

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the position on touchscreens. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

Scene 1Scene 2Scene 3
click to load images

Input Devices & Operation

Since the display measures only 3.2-inches, the virtual keyboard is pretty tiny, but typing accurately is still just possible. The input via the physical keys is possible as well with T9 as one of the options. When touching an input field, the virtual keyboard is displayed but remains hidden when navigating with the physical keys. The combination of the two input options takes some getting used to, but it's actually a practical solution.

A few apps make a shortcoming of the touchscreen apparent, as it's a little inaccurate in the corners. Combined with the rather small symbols, the operation can be a little finicky - especially since the "back", "delete" and "end call" keys don't reveal which of these keys might solve the problem.

Keyboard in portrait mode
Keyboard in portrait mode
Keyboard in landscape mode
Keyboard in landscape mode

Display

A 3.2-inch display and a resolution of 480x320 pixels - those stats seem like they are straight from the era of "regular" cell phones and not smartphones. At least the display is quite bright at an average of 436.6 cd/m².

461
cd/m²
445
cd/m²
419
cd/m²
469
cd/m²
442
cd/m²
394
cd/m²
446
cd/m²
451
cd/m²
402
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 469 cd/m² Average: 436.6 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 84 %
Center on Battery: 442 cd/m²
Contrast: 680:1 (Black: 0.65 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 9.83 | 0.6-29.43 Ø6.1
ΔE Greyscale 11.09 | 0.64-98 Ø6.3
Gamma: 2.2
LG Wine Smart
Adreno 304, 210 MSM8909, 4 GB Flash
Wiko Rainbow Up
Mali-400 MP2, MT6582, 8 GB eMMC Flash
Doogee Valencia2 Y100 Pro
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB SSD
Samsung Galaxy J1
Mali-400 MP2, SC8830, 4 GB Flash
Screen
21%
3%
6%
Brightness middle
442
525
19%
455
3%
370
-16%
Brightness
437
500
14%
428
-2%
364
-17%
Brightness Distribution
84
90
7%
84
0%
95
13%
Black Level *
0.65
0.53
18%
0.52
20%
0.63
3%
Contrast
680
991
46%
875
29%
587
-14%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
9.83
8.11
17%
11.22
-14%
5.99
39%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
11.09
8.58
23%
12.83
-16%
7.28
34%
Gamma
2.2 100%
2.09 105%
2.12 104%
2.59 85%
CCT
12739 51%
8530 76%
11911 55%
7949 82%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
93.8099

* ... smaller is better

It's quite obvious that LG haven't put as much emphasis on the display quality of the Wine Smart as they probably would have had this been a "normal" smartphone. The screen matters much more for smartphones and the display needs to be as high-end as possible to allow for watching videos and looking at photos. For the LG Wine Smart, videos and pictures are almost out of the question anyway, so the black value of 0.65 cd/m² and the contrast ratio of 680:1 are still acceptable.

Our measurements with a spectrophotometer and the CalMAN software reveal a distinctive bluish hue. Colors are not accurate either and pink - to pick one example - looks more like purple.

CalMAN gray levels
CalMAN gray levels
CalMAN colors
CalMAN colors
CalMAN saturation
CalMAN saturation
CalMAN color accuracy
CalMAN color accuracy

The flip-feature has the advantage that the user can shield the display against bright light a little bit more easily, so the screen content remains visible. The symbols and text are much smaller, however, which in turn decreases readability. The brightness is sufficient for outdoor use.

The TN LED display is subject to contrast shifts when the display is tilted. The flip-phone design makes this less of an issue as it would be with a regular smartphone.

Outdoor use
Outdoor use
Viewing angles
Viewing angles

Performance

Even during normal operation, the Wine Smart stutters and lags frequently, which doesn't bode well for performance enthusiasts. The phone is equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 MSM8909 - a quad-core SoC running at up to 1.1 GHz - as well as an Adreno 304 GPU and 1024 MB of RAM.

Equipped with the above hardware, the phone is slower than comparable devices as far as the overall CPU and system performance, as well as the speed of the 4 GB of flash storage in particular, are concerned. Only the Samsung Galaxy J1 is slower still. The LG Wine Smart can handle simple tasks fairly well and even surfing the web is reasonably fast, but that's as much as one should expect.

AnTuTu v5 - Total Score (sort by value)
LG Wine Smart
18064 Points ∼18%
Wiko Rainbow Up
19554 Points ∼20% +8%
Doogee Valencia2 Y100 Pro
20419 Points ∼21% +13%
Geekbench 3
32 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
LG Wine Smart
1019 Points ∼3%
Wiko Rainbow Up
1174 Points ∼4% +15%
Samsung Galaxy J1
567 Points ∼2% -44%
32 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
LG Wine Smart
302 Points ∼6%
Wiko Rainbow Up
360 Points ∼7% +19%
Samsung Galaxy J1
312 Points ∼6% +3%
GFXBench 3.0
off screen Manhattan Offscreen OGL (sort by value)
LG Wine Smart
1.8 fps ∼0%
Doogee Valencia2 Y100 Pro
1.7 fps ∼0% -6%
on screen Manhattan Onscreen OGL (sort by value)
LG Wine Smart
16 fps ∼4%
Doogee Valencia2 Y100 Pro
3.5 fps ∼1% -78%
Smartbench 2012
Gaming Index (sort by value)
LG Wine Smart
0 points ∼0%
Wiko Rainbow Up
2290 points ∼50%
Doogee Valencia2 Y100 Pro
3178 points ∼69%
Samsung Galaxy J1
2263 points ∼49%
Productivity Index (sort by value)
LG Wine Smart
0 points ∼0%
Wiko Rainbow Up
3638 points ∼19%
Doogee Valencia2 Y100 Pro
3724 points ∼20%
Samsung Galaxy J1
2126 points ∼11%
BaseMark OS II
Web (sort by value)
LG Wine Smart
621 Points ∼31%
Wiko Rainbow Up
571 Points ∼28% -8%
Doogee Valencia2 Y100 Pro
556 Points ∼27% -10%
Samsung Galaxy J1
541 Points ∼27% -13%
Graphics (sort by value)
LG Wine Smart
256 Points ∼1%
Wiko Rainbow Up
137 Points ∼0% -46%
Doogee Valencia2 Y100 Pro
173 Points ∼1% -32%
Samsung Galaxy J1
65 Points ∼0% -75%
Memory (sort by value)
LG Wine Smart
239 Points ∼3%
Wiko Rainbow Up
254 Points ∼3% +6%
Doogee Valencia2 Y100 Pro
450 Points ∼6% +88%
Samsung Galaxy J1
185 Points ∼2% -23%
System (sort by value)
LG Wine Smart
820 Points ∼5%
Wiko Rainbow Up
970 Points ∼6% +18%
Doogee Valencia2 Y100 Pro
844 Points ∼5% +3%
Samsung Galaxy J1
551 Points ∼3% -33%
Overall (sort by value)
LG Wine Smart
420 Points ∼5%
Wiko Rainbow Up
373 Points ∼4% -11%
Doogee Valencia2 Y100 Pro
437 Points ∼5% +4%
Samsung Galaxy J1
245 Points ∼3% -42%
AndroBench 3-5
Random Write 4KB (sort by value)
LG Wine Smart
3 MB/s ∼1%
Wiko Rainbow Up
4.01 MB/s ∼2% +34%
Doogee Valencia2 Y100 Pro
3.78 MB/s ∼2% +26%
Samsung Galaxy J1
1.5 MB/s ∼1% -50%
Random Read 4KB (sort by value)
LG Wine Smart
11.5 MB/s ∼7%
Wiko Rainbow Up
26.7 MB/s ∼15% +132%
Doogee Valencia2 Y100 Pro
17.76 MB/s ∼10% +54%
Samsung Galaxy J1
13.76 MB/s ∼8% +20%
Sequential Write 256KB (sort by value)
LG Wine Smart
12 MB/s ∼2%
Wiko Rainbow Up
21.03 MB/s ∼4% +75%
Doogee Valencia2 Y100 Pro
51.71 MB/s ∼10% +331%
Samsung Galaxy J1
11.3 MB/s ∼2% -6%
Sequential Read 256KB (sort by value)
LG Wine Smart
118 MB/s ∼8%
Wiko Rainbow Up
144.18 MB/s ∼10% +22%
Doogee Valencia2 Y100 Pro
139.22 MB/s ∼9% +18%
Samsung Galaxy J1
59.72 MB/s ∼4% -49%

Legend

 
LG Wine Smart Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 MSM8909, Qualcomm Adreno 304, 4 GB Flash
 
Wiko Rainbow Up Mediatek MT6582, ARM Mali-400 MP2, 8 GB eMMC Flash
 
Doogee Valencia2 Y100 Pro Mediatek MT6735, ARM Mali-T720, 16 GB SSD
 
Samsung Galaxy J1 Spreadtrum SC8830, ARM Mali-400 MP2, 4 GB Flash

Gaming

Simple games like Angry Birds: Star Wars can be played without major caveats and the control via the touchscreen works well, but of course the screen size is quite small. The fact that the keypad-portion sticks out to either the right or left takes some getting used to, as it hinders access to the touchscreen.

More demanding games already approach the limits of the flash storage. Asphalt 8: Airborne, to name an example, needs 1.54 GB of space by itself and can't be installed at all with what's left over after the OS installation. In addition, larger downloads take a very long time.

Angry Birds: Star Wars runs without major problems.
Angry Birds: Star Wars runs without major problems.
Larger apps often can't be installed at all.
Larger apps often can't be installed at all.

Emissions

Temperature

Even under load, the phone doesn't behave out of the ordinary as far as the temperatures are concerned. We measured 36.7 °C in the upper area of the physical keys, which is noticeable, but no reason for concern. Given the weak SoC, this was to be expected. During idle, the phone doesn't get warm at all.

Max. Load
 32.3 °C
90 F
36 °C
97 F
30.7 °C
87 F
 
 33.3 °C
92 F
36.7 °C
98 F
33.3 °C
92 F
 
 33.4 °C
92 F
35.4 °C
96 F
32.4 °C
90 F
 
Maximum: 36.7 °C = 98 F
Average: 33.7 °C = 93 F
33.7 °C
93 F
34.5 °C
94 F
28.3 °C
83 F
33.4 °C
92 F
34.8 °C
95 F
29.2 °C
85 F
33.1 °C
92 F
34.6 °C
94 F
29.4 °C
85 F
Maximum: 34.8 °C = 95 F
Average: 32.3 °C = 90 F
Power Supply (max.)  34.4 °C = 94 F | Room Temperature 22.1 °C = 72 F | Voltcraft IR-360
(±) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 33.7 °C / 93 F, compared to the average of 33.1 °C / 92 F for the devices in the class Smartphone.
(+) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 36.7 °C / 98 F, compared to the average of 35.6 °C / 96 F, ranging from 22.4 to 51.7 °C for the class Smartphone.
(+) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 34.8 °C / 95 F, compared to the average of 34.1 °C / 93 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 24.6 °C / 76 F, compared to the device average of 33.1 °C / 92 F.

Speaker

The speaker is located on the back and gets surprisingly loud. Quality-wise, the speaker is suitable for a quick Internet video. We wouldn't recommend listing to songs for extended periods of time, since the bass is lacking and the highs are over-emphasized. The fact that the LG Wine Smart emits sounds all the time is annoying - for example, when opening or closing the display portion. Fortunately, this can be turned off.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The LG Wine Smart doesn't draw a lot of power, which can be attributed at least in part to the small display. On average, the phone consumes a third to one-half of what comparable smartphones need. That alone should guarantee long runtimes - or shouldn't it?

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0 / 0.1 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 0.4 / 0.9 / 1.4 Watt
Load midlight 2.2 / 3.8 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Life

Unfortunately, the battery only offers a capacity of 6.5 Wh; the Wiko Rainbow Up for example is equipped with a 10.3 Wh power source. While the LG Wine Smart can keep up with other smartphones as far as runtimes are concerned, it does require recharging after about one-and-a-half days. On the other hand, users probably won't use the Wine Smart much to surf the web, which in turn should increase the battery life. All things considered, the battery life is certainly acceptable, but we would've expected a little more here because of the small display.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
17h 26min
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3
10h 23min
Load (maximum brightness)
4h 44min
LG Wine Smart
Adreno 304, 210 MSM8909, 4 GB Flash
Wiko Rainbow Up
Mali-400 MP2, MT6582, 8 GB eMMC Flash
Samsung Galaxy J1
Mali-400 MP2, SC8830, 4 GB Flash
Doogee Valencia2 Y100 Pro
Mali-T720, MT6735, 16 GB SSD
Battery Runtime
-2%
13%
-41%
Reader / Idle
1046
1123
7%
1262
21%
720
-31%
WiFi v1.3
623
634
2%
648
4%
305
-51%
Load
284
240
-15%
321
13%
168
-41%
H.264
625
512

Pros

+ different input options
+ sophisticated design
+ convenient size
+ reliable touchscreen
+ no bloatware
+ bright display

Cons

- display not very sturdy
- not very many frequency bands
- subpar WiFi reception
- dull-sounding microphone
- low-resolution cameras
- comparatively expensive
- small display
- color accuracy is lacking
- low performance
- battery life is just acceptable

Verdict

In review: LG Wine Smart
In review: LG Wine Smart

The LG Wine Smart is targeted towards a particular user group and should interest those who like retro-designs and lament the disappearance of flip phones but still would like a modern OS, LTE and various apps. But even though all these criteria are met, there aren't any real advantages compared to a regular smartphone: the battery life isn't any better, the performance just average and navigating and browsing can be a chore because of the tiny display.  

The combination of touchscreen and physical keys has its advantages, although the operation can get confusing at times. Even though we like the case with the swappable battery, the display section simply isn't rigid enough. The cameras are another weak point, as comparably-priced smartphones often offer much better quality and more possibilities.   

For a price of 160 Euros (~$175), LG sells a piece of nostalgia taking us back to a time when phones like the Motorola Razr, Samsung's flip phone and the Nokia 7220 were state-of-the-art. Unfortunately, the LG Wine Smart requires a willingness to compromise and even then, it doesn't have a lot of advantages compared to a normal smartphone. We can only recommend it for those who are true flip-phone fanatics or users who simply want a phone to make calls. Even so, there are cheaper alternatives.

LG Wine Smart - 12/07/2015 v4(old)
Florian Wimmer

Chassis
77%
Keyboard
65 / 75 → 87%
Pointing Device
66%
Connectivity
46 / 60 → 77%
Weight
93%
Battery
93%
Display
78%
Games Performance
50 / 63 → 79%
Application Performance
21 / 70 → 30%
Temperature
92%
Noise
100%
Audio
45 / 91 → 49%
Camera
55%
Average
68%
77%
Smartphone - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > LG Wine Smart Smartphone Review
Florian Wimmer, 2015-12-17 (Update: 2018-05-15)
Bernhard Pechlaner
Bernhard Pechlaner - Review Editor
Ended up in the IT sector in the 90s more or less accidentally and have remained in the industry (as a sysadmin) ever since. Always been interested in laptops - first purchase was - if memory serves correctly - a Toshiba Satellite T2115CS with DX4-75 processor, 4 MB of RAM and 350 MB hard disk drive (and Windows 3.1). To this day, laptops appeal to me - much to the chagrin of my wife, who doesn’t seem understand why we need 5-10 of them at any given time ;-).