- 2019 seems to be a year of innovative phone design. So far, we’ve seen wearable and foldable phones, as well as one phone with 5 cameras.
- This wave of new concepts could be due to smartphone design fatigue and demand from consumers.
- Mobile World Congress 2019 showed off some pretty weird phones that go beyond the typical smartphone slab.
- While phone makers like Apple have played it safe, we saw some weird phone designs from Nubia, Samsung, Huawei, LG, Nokia, and even Energizer.
Following is a transcript of the video.
Antonio Villas-Boas: 2019 is gonna be the year of the weird phone. I think these weird smartphones are really cool. They might be ridiculous or really ugly or completely crazy. This is how we know what people like, or at least this is how smartphone makers know what people like.
I think right now a lot of people are suffering from smartphone design fatigue, but it seems like 2019 is the year that the phone makers have decided to get together and just do something about the regular smartphone slab. There are the big smartphone makers like Apple and Samsung, and then there are the smaller phone makers like OnePlus, Meizu, or Vivo. The big guys, they kinda tend to play it safe, and safe is good, safe is comfortable. And the little guys, they kinda go crazy with stuff.
The first thing that comes to mind is LG’s new phone. Now, it looks perfectly normal on the outside, then you go and find out what it can do to unlock the phone. It uses VR, not virtual reality, vein recognition. With vein recognition, the LG G8 wants to recognise the veins on the palm of your hand to unlock the phone. The G8 can do something else that’s pretty weird. It’s actually like kind of an old concept where you use gestures. You can twist a virtual knob for volume, for example, or you swipe left or right for your music or switching between apps.
Another much, much weirder phone is this Nubia wrist phone. There’s a debate going on whether it’s a smartphone or a smartwatch. The design is totally out of this world. It has a much larger, longer screen than the typical smartwatch. It has a camera. It has a camera that is front-facing, and I believe 5 megapixels, probably only good for taking selfies like this. I can’t imagine taking a photo of landscape like this, really odd, really uncomfortable, and the Nubia also runs on Android Wear, which is a smartwatch operating system.
Now, let’s talk about the Energizer PowerMax K18 Pop. It is a huge, thick phone, with an 18,000 milliampere-hour battery. Just to put that into perspective, most phones will have about 3,000, maybe even 4,000 milliampere-hour batteries. Energizer says that the K18 Pop will get about 50 days of battery life on standby, so it’s not with daily usage. Apart from its massive size, the Energizer phone actually kinda looks like a normal phone. It runs Android. It even has, I think, a triple-lens camera system on the back. So in all respects, it’s actually just a normal smartphone that’s about the width of three iPhones.
Let’s talk about the Nokia PureView 9. This phone has five camera lenses on the back. That count that five versus the three that we’re just getting used to. The Nokia PureView 9 is supposedly meant to absorb 10 times more light than the standard camera. When you take a photo with the Nokia PureView 9, all the five lenses are activated and combine together to make a super photo, I guess. Yeah, we have to wait and see to use the Nokia PureView 9 ourselves to see if maybe five camera lenses are indeed better than one.
There’s a new trend with smartphones, at least with Samsung’s smartphones, which has this oval pill-shaped hole punch for the selfie cameras. Honestly, I quite like it. I mean, compared to a notch, it’s really actually kinda better. It’s not as distracting, has no interruptions around it or anything like that. The camera is off-center on the Galaxy S10, and it does make for that slight angle on your face.
Another big trend in phones is now foldable phones. We have different designs from Samsung, which opens up like a book. The Huawei Mate X that opens up like a reversible book, where the screen is on the outside of the phone. The thing is about the foldable phone so far is the price tag that is just crazy. It’s just nuts. Where are you gonna get this thing repaired? Where are you gonna get its battery changed? It’s all in the air right now. I do think the only thing that’s gonna stick is gonna be the foldable phone. It’s kind of a novelty-ish right now, but give it time, and I think it could be something really, really cool.
Do you really need all this innovation and folding phone and pop-out selfie cameras? No, you don’t need it, but you want it. I know that. You guys ask for new and crazy stuff every year on the smartphones. It’s odd that we’re instead of going more diminutive and thinner and slimmer and lighter, we’re actually going to just bigger and larger and thicker and flipper. That’s just where the innovation is leading phone makers, and inevitably these things will be very strange.
There’ll be some weird new stuff coming out with designs and features and functionality. At the same time, these weird things will actually appear normal to the youngest generation that’s sort of born into it. You know, my kids are gonna think smartphones are totally normal. In fact, they might think smartphones are kinda old, ’cause they’re gonna be using their weird wristwatch at some time.
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