Making your smartphone smarter

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I still live with a 16gb phone. It isn’t impossible, but it’s difficult. The world isn’t moving towards adapting to low storage, it’s increasing it. So what do you do when you run low on storage? Delete photos and apps? NO! Back everything to the cloud? You could, but you’d need constant access to it to retrieve data. What else can you do? Transfer it to your laptop via cable? Sure, but who’s got the time for that. You could maybe use an OTG pen-drive… but not many people have those.

With Type-C USB ports becoming increasingly popular, there’s one more solution. The Hyperdrive Type-C connection kit. It easily fits in your pocket, and expands your phone’s possibilities. Plug it in, and you’ve got a regular USB port, and two card-readers for SD and MicroSD cards. You can now literally plug any USB drive into your phone and either transfer data to it, or retrieve data from it. Or you could use the SD card reader to pull photos off your DSLR. What’s better is that the Hyperdrive’s Type-C works with laptops too. With most new laptops having a Type-C port for fast transfers and faster charging, the Hyperdrive plugs into your laptop too, not just expanding the number of ports on it, but even allowing you to easily transfer data between your laptop and phone. Without a cable!

Designer: Sanho

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Technology Detox

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The Mindfulness Phone is the latest in a trend of devices that aim to get people’s faces out of their phones! Composed of just a standard numeric keypad and an opaque screen, its ultra-minimalist, stark aesthetic is complimentary of this goal. It’s seemingly simple, but does allow the user brief periods of internet access so that they are always mindful of how they spend their time online. No camera, no superfluous applications… just back to basics so you can live in the real world!

Designer: Blond

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The world’s prettiest Dumb-phone

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A person’s only motivation to leave a smartphone either stems from A. realization and frustration with the addiction, or B. being presented with a better alternative.

The Halcyon concept phone was birthed keeping both those motivations in mind. Not really a dumb-phone but rather a reality-phone, the Halcyon enables you to disconnect from the internet and reconnect with your surroundings. Its gorgeous design helps too, by making you want to leave your blockish smartphone and adopt the beautiful glossy bent-slab that is the Halcyon.

Made in a clam-shell format with basic controls and two screens (one on the front-face and one on the inside), the phone serves as a simple connection tool, allowing for phone calls and text messages only. The black and white UI keeps it simple too, discreetly notifying you when you have a call or a text, and otherwise constantly reminding you to stay in sync with the world around you with its slogan “reality awaits”.

The phone’s design is just simply breathtaking, with a seamless form that bends gracefully at the middle, looking a lot like a wallet. It comes with one solitary speaker, and a USB Type-C charging port. Payments are made courtesy a pay-as-you-go plan (that allows you to know how much time you’ve spent on your phone) and bills can be paid monthly through direct-debit or PayPal.

Designer: Mike George

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Would you pay $1,200 for this phone?

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I probably wouldn’t… but this phone’s not for me. Coming from RED Digital Cinema, the company that makes most of Hollywood’s high-end cameras, the Android smartphone doesn’t want to be called a smartphone, but rather a Holographic Media Machine. It comes with a screen that is capable of delivering glass-less 3D visuals. 3D screens could be big, HTC tried and failed, but with VR being the next big thing, who knows. All we have right now is this singular render, a code-name Hydrogen, and a price tag of $1,195 *coughs*.

Let’s have a look at the image we’ve got… That camera bump on the top clearly means business, and coming from RED, maybe it’ll rival any pocketable camera you currently own. I’m not a fan of the grips on the side of the phones because A. not everyone holds the phone the same way, and B. it solves an apparent ergonomics problem but instantly creates an aesthetic problem. I’m also having second thoughts about that charging port. It looks nothing like anything I’ve ever seen… which leads me to think that it may be proprietary. Above that, on the back of the phone, are a series of magnetic connector plates, possibly for an attachment like a flashlight (which the phone…sorry…holographic media machine doesn’t have built into it).

At a staggering price of over a grand for the Hydrogen smartphone ($1,595 for the titanium version), clearly this phone has a rather fixed purpose and therefore a fixed target audience (probably VERY serious videographers, or just plain rich people). Which makes me wonder… is the title of this article as rhetorical as you thought?

Designer: RED Digital Cinema

Magnifying your phone’s possibilities

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As you may already have figured out by now, I’m really crazy about phone camera photography. Yes, it’s nowhere near ideal, and the DSLR users are giving me proper dirts, but think about how small and powerful cameras have become! Phone aside, the camera module itself is barely the size of your fingernail yet it’s the most widespread piece of tech ever, responsible for creating more than 1.2 TRILLION photos per year that are uploaded online. Imagine pushing this camera’s capabilities. The very thought of that excites me!

Easy Macro is simple and does great things. Just a silicone band with a lens attached to it, it slips over your phone’s (any phone) existing camera and gives it a 4X Macro zoom… giving you an incredibly new perspective, ideal for nature photography and even for unusual textures. In fact, Easy Macro’s Instagram page should give you a good idea of how capable the macro band is and how much more it empowers your phone’s camera.

Designer: Easy Macro

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The Pixel we never knew we wanted

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Come October 2017 and we’ll have Google launch its second iteration of its flagship smartphone, the Pixel. Admitted it may not look anything like what we’re seeing right now, but Jonas Daehnert has an affinity for creating the most desirable phone concepts.

The Pixel 2017 concept boasts of a metal + sandstone makeover, with a vibe that reminds me of the Oneplus X. However, the Pixel comes with the dual camera, a dual flash, and no more fingerprint reader (I surmise the screen may be able to ultrasonically detect fingerprints). On the side of the phone however are 4 tiny lights that correspond to Google’s colors. I guess they work as dedicated notification lights, so you know that a red flash is for Mail, a Blue for Twitter or Facebook, Green for Messages, and Yellow for Instagram or something of that nature. It seems like a neat idea to play on the colors of Google’s brand and turn it into a functional element on a phone.

I personally love how the render lighting uses Google’s colors too, making the phone look Google-esque, rather than too metallic (which it would under white lighting). Come October and we’ll know what to expect, but until then, let’s make do with this!

Designer: Jonas Daehnert

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Shine on, you crazy camera-lens

There was a time when EDM was all the craze, and these spectacles showed up with polarized lenses that would end up making what you saw look like hallucinations. Colors would flash everywhere, you’d see rainbows emanating from lights, it looked wonderful. They’re still around and are called the Aurora Vizion Diffraction Spectacles.

However, enjoying something you wear on your eyes seems like a rather limited approach to diffraction technology. Rather, why not make a camera lens out of it so that everyone on your Instagram can enjoy it, right? That’s what Trippy Clip’s Pryzma (I’m loving how these companies swap the S for a Z to sound hipster…hypzter) camera lenses are doing. The chiseled glass lens splits the image into threes, while a special optical coating allows your images to get a completely hallucinogenic color-blast makeover. Much like living inside a kaleidoscope!

The Pryzm even comes in a regular fish-eye version that warps your images spherically while giving it the signature rainbow treatment.

Designer: Trippy Clip

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Nokia’s return to glory

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Can I say, before the smartphone craze, Nokia was the Apple. Their phones surpassed everything we wished and hoped for. If you didn’t have a Nokia, you didn’t have a phone worth even talking about, or talking into. Now that craze has split among various other companies, with Apple and Samsung having the lion’s share. However, in my heart I will always root for Nokia. :)

The Nokia Vision 2018 concept phone brings Nokia’s Lumia aesthetic to modern times, with bezel-less screens, chrome accents, a dual back-facing camera, and and Android-powered brain (85% of the world’s favorite mobile OS).

Even with its for-modern-times design, there’s something still very Nokia about it. The tight radii on the phone’s corners and glass with rounded edges. It goes from being lovable, with Lumia’s candy colors, to being taken seriously, with the black matte-finish playing wonderfully off the camera’s chrome accents on the back. Welcome back, Nokia, welcome back!

Designer: Jonas Daehnert

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Hi Phone, Bye Bezel.

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It’s 2017, which means we’ve come ten years into the iPhone hysteria with phones that have undoubtedly changed our world as we know it. Along with these phones came dreams, expectations, and as a result of them, concepts. We’ve seen everything from clear iPhone renders, to curved smartphone images. Today’s concept is no less. As we celebrate the iPhone’s tenth birthday, here’s a look at the iPhone 8 concept by Emad Rahimi. Even though leaks have shown us what the upcoming iPhone will look like, Emad’s design gives the iPhone 8 a bezel-less design highly reminiscent of Xiaomi’s Mi Mix phone (designed by the one and only Philippe Starck). The design retains the home button, however, even though rumors are that TouchID is all set to get integrated into the smartphone’s screen (Vivo’s smartphones just managed to pull off this engineering marvel). Although the design looks a little premature (in the designer’s defense, most iPhones look like beveled slabs), it gives us a taste of what the highly anticipated iOS 11 will look like on a device. Plus, is that a front facing camera on the bottom right corner? Hmmm…

Designer: Emad Rahimi

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Four-eyed Phone

I’m loving how the Puzlook’s phone case borrows an idea from one of the most beautifully relatable puzzles we’ve all played with as kids, and transforms something playful into something useful. Taking cues from sliding puzzles, Puzlook’s case puts three interchangeable camera lenses in your phone’s cover, allowing you to easily and accurately swap between lenses, to instantly upgrade your photography chops!

The lenses stay attached to your phone case, which means you don’t need to A. spend time looking for them, and B. spend more time adjusting them to precisely rest over the camera lens of your phone. The case’s design takes care of lens positioning by allowing them to snap exactly into the precise position, giving you an incredible range of photo styles to choose from! While most camera lenses come as separate attachments, Puzlook’s case puts three (wide-angle, fish-eye, and a telephoto) lenses in a puzzle-inspired interchangeable format, allowing you to cycle through different lenses and choose which one you want to use, or not use the lenses and rely on the phone’s camera itself.

The Puzlook is a winner of the K-Design Award, for being functional, convenient, and ingeniously unique!

Designers: Jimmy Song, Sooljin Sim & Heejin Lee.

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