Samsung’s latest attempt at a bezel-less phone involves rotating cameras

Not many people would remember Oppo’s first phone. The N1, Oppo’s premier phone was quite revolutionary for its time, literally! Because the N1 didn’t have a front-facing camera. Instead, it had a rotating camera module that you could flip to face any way, allowing you to do front-facing shots, back-facing shots, or even upward shots. The rotating camera module didn’t quite catch on, but it gave Oppo enough traction to become the smartphone behemoth it is today. That rotating camera, however, isn’t forgotten! Samsung plans on implementing something similar in its Galaxy A80.

Moving away from the notch, the hole-punch, or anything that involves corrupting the integrity of the 100% display on the front, this is the Galaxy A80. On the front, the A80 is a pure display with zero blemishes, or as Samsung likes to call it, the Cinematic Infinity Display. The display, however, isn’t the highlight of the phone. At roughly the 40-second mark, you see the A80’s back half slide upwards, and a camera module rotate to face you. This is Samsung’s card-up-its-sleeve, or camera-down-its-sleeve if you will. With one camera that faces both ways, Samsung’s Galaxy A80 can click incredible photos as well as selfies, relying on a system of three lenses to give you brilliant, vivid shots.

This rotating triple-lens camera module features a main 48 MP F2.0 camera, an ultra-wide 8 MP F2.2 camera, and a 3D depth sensor working together to deliver wide-screen shots, versatile background focus effects, and incredibly vivid low-light shots. The camera faces forwards all the time until you switch cameras in the app, following which, the phone slides open and the camera module rotates to face you.

Normally I’m not an advocate for moving parts in phones because they essentially are the first to fail. Moving parts immediately mean a phone isn’t as water and dust resistant as other monolithic devices, but I’d honestly love to see how receptive people are to this phone. If anything, the smartphone industry really needs some bizarre and unique stand-out designs, and the A80 is surely one of them!

Designer: Samsung

Samsung's latest attempt at a bezel-less phone involves rotating cameras

Samsung's latest attempt at a bezel-less phone involves rotating cameras

Samsung's latest attempt at a bezel-less phone involves rotating cameras

Samsung's latest attempt at a bezel-less phone involves rotating cameras

Samsung's latest attempt at a bezel-less phone involves rotating cameras

It took one simple redesign to turn the plug-point into a neat wire-organizer

It took one simple redesign to turn the plug-point into a neat wire-organizer

Loose wires are incredibly ugly and dangerous. Not only do they stand the chance of getting entangled in something (like your foot, cat, Roomba, etc.) but they’re also just plain unsightly. An unkempt wire can absolutely ruin a space’s aesthetic, and it takes a pretty keen and determined eye to spot the problem and set out to fix it.

Determined to never have random loose wires corrupt the visual balance of his spaces, Andrew Ferrier designed the Cable Cradle, a simple, innovative twist on the plug-point. Ferrier’s redesigned plug-point comes with an extended lip that gives you a channel to wrap your spare wires around. Almost like a thread and a spool, the wire can be looped as many times as needed to make your space look neat, and to prevent you from accidentally tripping over that pesky little wire that’s aimlessly strewn across the floor. Ferrier even built a nice ridge on the top of the Cable Cradle to allow you to rest your phone on it, so you can charge your phone and dock it too! GENIUS!

Designer: Andrew Ferrier

It took one simple redesign to turn the plug-point into a neat wire-organizer

It took one simple redesign to turn the plug-point into a neat wire-organizer

It took one simple redesign to turn the plug-point into a neat wire-organizer

It took one simple redesign to turn the plug-point into a neat wire-organizer

It took one simple redesign to turn the plug-point into a neat wire-organizer

This card practically holds your entire smartphone toolkit

Slide it into your wallet along with your business cards and the MOCA X7s should keep all your tech woes at bay. Measuring just a few millimeters thin, the MOCA X7s integrates a charger cable, data sync cable, MicroSD (TF)/SD (MMC) data storage card and SIM-eject tool within a card-size space.

For tech owners, the MOCA X7s could be a pretty handy piece of e-EDC (yes, I made up that term). Use it to charge your phone, transfer data, store data or extra SD and MicroSD cards, or even use the SIM Eject Tool (a small piece of hardware that often gets lost after you buy a new phone and set it up) to swap SIM cards whenever you please. The MOCA X7s, from the looks of it, packs a MicroUSB jack, but I assume it wouldn’t be too difficult to push out a Lightning and USB-C variant either.

The MOCA X7s is a winner of the Golden Pin Design Award for the year 2018.

Designers: Luo Bailin & Zhang Ye for WOW!dea

Breaking smartphone addiction: 10 Designs to save us from electronic enslavement

I read a pretty scary statistic online, which outlines that the average person stares at their smartphone screen for a minimum of 3 hours a day. In fact, that number went from 0.3 hours to 3.3 hours between 2008 and 2017. Today, it’s anywhere between 4-6 hours, which is anywhere around 30% of the time we spend awake. That’s 30% of our waking life spent staring at pixels. Mike Elgan points out that if we spent that time reading books, we could literally read upward of 200 books PER YEAR.

So how exactly do we break this addiction to smartphones? A great way to go about things is buy what they call a ‘dumbphone’. Dumbphones, or the phones we were used to from 15+ years ago, used to be pretty great. People would actually call each other up and talk rather than send texts, emojis, and ephemeral selfies. Fake news was at an all-time low. Phones were cheaper too, back then… and most importantly, a phone’s battery lasted anywhere from a week to a fortnight. Dumbphones today base themselves on the same principle. Remove the app store and internet connectivity, and you’ve got yourself a phone that isn’t really capable of spying on you, and will prompt you to spend less time staring at pictures and videos of superficial lifestyles on social media, and more time doing things of value… like reading those 200 books each year.

We look at 10 beautiful products that solve our screen-addiction, and help us unplug from the toxicity of superficial social-network-based lives. These designs help us achieve what we need, with exactly the amount of resources needed to be productive, healthy, and happy.

01. Blloc Minimal Smartphone

Let’s start simple with the Blloc Smartphone. For people who want (or need) to stay connected to social media (like me for instance, given that 90% of my job revolves around being informed and connected), Blloc has a pretty clever trick up its sleeve. It redesigns the entire OS to be completely black and white, and creates a block-based home screen that gives you all your snippets directly in the menu, rather than needing you to open each app. This, along with the phone’s grayscale OS does WONDERS for your battery life, and leaves you slightly less addicted to your phone’s flashy, colorful OLED screen. Craving some color? Blloc even allows you to briefly view your content in color, just by placing your finger on top of the fingerprint sensor at the back! A great, minimal-compromise option for battling screen addiction!

02. Kyocera KY-O1L

Although the name isn’t particularly catchy, Kyocera’s KY-O1L is a lot like the Blloc, but takes the dumbphone ethos more seriously. A recipient of the Japanese Good Design Award, and also touted as the world’s thinnest phone, the KY-O1L is literally the size of a credit card, and just a couple of millimeters thicker. Designed for the white-collar workers who still rely on business cards, the KY-O1L fits right into cardholders, allowing you to have a phone along with your cards that you can A. carry around with you, and B. Use to instantly make calls, save contacts, and access the web for work-related reasons. The phone does pack an LTE connection, but doesn’t have an app-store. All internet-related work is done via Kyocera’s browser, which not only optimizes webpages to keep them simple, but also displays them to you in black-and-white, an experience that may take getting used to, but will surely provide function without the mindless addiction. The ideal phone for the kind of person who believes in hustling, keeping technology in check while being able to communicate with the world, and most importantly, safeguarding their privacy with technology that doesn’t use apps or cameras to spy incessantly on them. It doesn’t sound that bad when you say it that way, does it?

03. Punkt MP02

I wouldn’t go as far as to call the Punkt MP02 a ‘dumbphone’ because it isn’t. The phone comes with 4G LTE capabilities, but in almost every regard, it’s the absolute antithesis of your conventional, bezel-less, dual-camera, slick-and-shiny, addictive smartphone. It comes with all the features needed in a communication device. The ability to call, text, and receive calls and messages from others. It also comes with an absolutely finger-loving tactile keyboard that you’ll be able to operate with muscle-memory after a month, letting you text without even looking at your screen. The phone comes with an eye-friendly black-and-white screen, and does boast of 4G LTE, but not in the way you think. The 4G LTE feature on the MP02 works as a hotspot, allowing you to use your laptop or tablet to browse the web… only when needed. This slight bit of friction (when it comes to accessing web-services) means you’ll spend less time on the internet, and more time doing things of consequence.

04. U18 Phone

This is the U18. It’s a bare-basics phone designed for parents to give to under-eighteen-year-olds. It’s a phone that your child will probably not like, but then again, teenagers often don’t know what’s good for them, right? It allows children to make, answer, and reject calls, add and remove callers, and call your dad, mom, or set up a group call for parents/siblings. It even has a WeChat button that’s probably limited to reading texts, and a voice-command button that lets you tell the phone who you want to call.
Flip the phone over and it has a camera for video calls (there’s also a secondary front facing camera), and even a panic button for sending SOS signals to your emergency contacts. Designed to be the perfect first-phone for youngsters, the U18 supplies them with all the functions needed to stay connected with the people who truly matter, and strips away all functions that could get children hopelessly addicted to phones and social media, and additionally even protect their privacy by keeping them away from apps that spy on them or gather their precious data.

05. Halcyon ‘Reality’ Phone

The Halcyon does one very crucial thing right. 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. It boasts of a gorgeous, flexible design that rivals most smartphones in aesthetic beauty.
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”.

06. Offline Phone

A winner of the 2018 Red Dot Design Concept Award, the Offline phone is your regular candybar dumbphone, but with a beautiful minimal aesthetic that actually makes you want to adopt it. Composed of just a standard numeric keypad and a rather eye-catching 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!

07. Yeezy Phone

I get the hilarity of naming a dumbphone after Kanye West, but this isn’t about dissing the great rapper (with a not-so-great reputation on Twitter). This stripped-down smartphone ditches the display entirely for a matrix of miniature lights (you can see them up close here) that form a touch sensitive LED array (a reference to the recent stage designs of John McGuire, featured as part of Kanye West’s Saint Pablo Tour). The phone comes with a reinvented OS too, allowing you to do just the important stuff. Make and take phone calls. Now if only Yeezy did the same too!

08. The Battery-less Phone

This right here is peak dumbphone, but it showcases a technology that’s nothing short of marvelous. The Battery-less phone, although it exists only in prototype and can’t really be bought, runs without ever needing to be charged. Stripped of all its functions, except calling, the battery free phone actually uses and needs minimal amounts of energy which it harnesses via light around it, and radio waves that linger in the air. You can make calls via the capacitive number pad, and it uses Skype to communicate with other phones. However, whenever you want to use the microphone, you need to hold a mic button down to relay your voice (much like a walkie talkie). The phone is just a stripped down grouping of circuit boards and wires for the time-being, but we can expect a fully made mobile phone too quite soon! Marvelous, eh? You can check out the phone in action here.

09. Substitute Phone

Maybe the answer isn’t a dumbphone. Maybe it’s a fidget toy that channels your addiction/distraction into something less intense. That’s what the Substitute Phone is. The designer put it best: you’re on the metro and grabbing at your phone at the first sight of seeing someone else receive a message. It’s a bizarre and unhealthy inclination feeding our attention deficit and we’re all guilty of it!
Designed with this in mind, the shape of the Substitute Phone replicates an average smartphone, however, its functions are reduced to the movements we make hundreds of times on a daily basis. Stone beads are incorporated in the body and let you scroll, zoom and swipe so to speak. No digital functions – just the simple, familiar motions. It’s the perfect, therapeutic approach to coping with smartphone withdrawal.

10. Phone Detox Book

I mean, if you’re going to ditch a screen to read a book, maybe start with the Phone Detox? A palm-friendly, phone-sized book that contains insights, ideas, and meditations that help you get over your heavy dependency on your phone, social media, and validation addictions. The book covers relevant topics like Addiction, Monasticism, Poetry, Nature, Dating, Utopia, and even Death. Its aim being to allow us to take a step back, breathe, and contemplate a little, rather than simply consuming content the internet keeps throwing at you.
The makers of the book say that the “Phone Detox knows we love our phones and would never want us to give them up, but it is also gently aware that these delightful gadgets bear a hidden cost. This flip book is a tool that aims to bring a little sanity to our closest, most intense and possibly most danger-laden technological relationship.”

That’s right. Put that screen down and enjoy life and its beautiful imperfections!

The ZTE Axon V doesn’t have a notch… It has a tab.

I’m not sure how I feel about the ZTE Axon V, but it sure is inventive as hell. For starters, it’s managed to crack the notch and camera punch hole problem and delivers on a complete bezel-less screen experience without moving parts… but its lack of a notch has led the front-facing camera to manifest somewhere else. This is the ZTE Axon V, and it’s the world’s first smartphone… with a TAB.

Reminiscent of folders that have tabs in the side (to let you open to a particular category), or for the more paperless generation, the tab from your favorite web browser, the Axon V comes with a protrusion on the side which houses the front-facing cameras… two of them. The protrusion would, technically, count as a bezel, but somehow it doesn’t, because it doesn’t conflict with the full-video content you’re watching, whereas notches, chins, and hole-punches do. The Axon V has a complete 6.8-inch edge-to-edge screen otherwise. The tab on the side is the part I’m sort of confused about. My immediate sense of aesthetics tells me it’s wrong. There’s no app to fix this tumor on the side of my phone, which sort of plays a crucial element, given it’s also responsible for facial-recognition unlocking.

But then again, we’ve lived in a world with phones that have had antennas and phones that were awkwardly shaped to begin with, like Nokia’s N.Gage (an icon in mobile gaming, no doubt). The ZTE Axon V may not have a desirable aesthetic in today’s smartphone line-up, but it isn’t the weirdest phone ever made (that title would probably go to the Nokia 7600). We’ve put weirder looking smartphones in our pockets, and pockets, for centuries, haven’t changed much… so the Axon V should fit into them jeans just fine.

Designer: ZTE Axon V

I could really get used to this notch-less Google Pixel 4 design…

It’s good to see the Pixel surrender that incredible notch it managed to acquire last year. The Pixel 3 was considered the pinnacle of Google’s smartphone tech, and actually housed the best smartphone camera in 2018, but it left a lot to be desired. For starters, the Pixel 3 still had pretty thick bezels on the top and bottom, and the Pixel 3XL had a massive notch on the top, much bigger than any other notch on any other phone (Google said this was because of the wide-angle selfie camera). Based on a couple of leaks, the Pixel 4 seems to avenge its predecessor with a much cleaner design, and no ugly bezels or notches from last year! Rendered out by our friend Jonas Dähnert, aka Phone Designer, this is a pretty accurate look at the Pixel 4 and 4XL.

It looks quite similar to the Pixel 3 from last year, with perhaps the only two major exceptions being A. the screen, a nice, clean bezel-less display with a hole-punch for a camera, and B. the lack of a fingerprint sensor, which is a pretty massive indication that either the Pixel 4 has adopted facial recognition, or has opted for an in-screen fingerprint sensor, the more likely of the two.

There’s no word on what the Pixel’s tech specs will be, but if last year was any indication, this was just one of the many leaks to follow! While we do wait with bated breath for this beauty of a smartphone (which will undoubtedly click some remarkable pictures too), let’s not forget that Google’s Pixel 3 lineup isn’t over! There may be a budget version of the Pixel 3 on its way that might just, wait for it, pack a 3.5mm jack! Too bad the Pixel 4 doesn’t show any signs of one though!

Designer/Visualizer: Jonas Dähnert

Samsung’s Galaxy Smartwatch has competition… from Samsung!

Now I’m usually the kind of guy to be excited by new tech, but this conceptual design literally has me scratching my head. Why, Samsung? Why have another device when you’ve already got so many! There’s the Galaxy S series, the Galaxy Note series, the Galaxy Smartwatch series, the newly launched Galaxy Fold, and now this. What would you even call this tech-filled friendship bracelet?! The Galaxy Bend? Sounds too much like the Galaxy Fold. The Galaxy Band? That sounds like people would confuse it with the smartwatch.

This is a conceptual Samsung smart-wristband. Created by LetsGoDigital using patents that Samsung filed just a week back, this device is clearly Samsung’s way of flooding the market with flexible displays. It’s essentially a smartphone-esque device that also doubles up as a wristband (similar to a concept that Lenovo displayed in 2016). Samsung’s modus operandi has always been “Build it and they will come”, and this gadget is no different, although if Lenovo’s test-case was any indication, this concept could be used by people with physical disabilities who have trouble holding a phone. The smartphone conveniently wraps around your wrist, allowing the phone to hold onto you, rather than needing you to hold onto the phone. The phone/band even comes with dual-lens cameras and an ultrasonic in-screen fingerprint reader.

For now, this concept exists as just a patent, and like most patents, it’s likely that Samsung just wanted to own the IP regarding a folding display mechanism, rather than build a device. A lot of companies patent ideas that look like they could potentially hold value, and those patented concepts usually never see the light of day. Let’s wait and see what Samsung’s plans for the future are!

Designer/Visualizer: LetsGoDigital

The Windows OS is perfect for gadgets with folding displays

Think about it. We’ve been using Windows with large screens almost all our life. It still remains the most popular desktop/laptop OS, used by people of all ages, and even though Google’s ChromeOS and Apple’s MacOS are strong contenders, there’s a certain framework that Windows uses that’s universal. A start button and taskbar at the bottom, files and folders appearing as windows that can be minimized and maximized, and a screen that’s conducive to power-usage and multitasking. Windows is the perfect big-screen OS for small or large jobs, and for complicated work as well as basic web browsing.

When you think of folding phones, the first use case that comes to mind is multitasking… a feature that mobile OS’s haven’t really enabled well enough. I still don’t know how to use apps in split-screen in Android, and even though I sort of know my way around iOS, I rarely see myself multitasking, even on my iPad. On my laptop, it happens without me even thinking or knowing. I’ve got Chrome open, but also a folder open in the background, a notes app on my desktop, and photoshop minimized, ready to be used. The estate provided by a large screen just makes things easier, and the Windows OS really enables this in a way that’s so easy to use, it gets taken for granted.

Now when you look at Microsoft’s vision of a folding phone, like the Surface Note concept shown below (also referred to as Project Andromeda by Microsoft), you’ll instantly realize that it’s running Windows (albeit in tablet mode), rather than a mobile OS built for screens no larger than 6 inches. The OS replicates the familiar desktop experience that actually makes a large screen useful. Fold the Surface Note in half when you need a phone (the OS is still perfectly useful), and open it into its larger format to use multiple apps together. The process feels incredibly natural, given how familiar we are with the Windows OS, and the larger screen’s functionality is further extended with the presence of the Surface Stylus. The stylus is even allowed to be carried ‘inside’ the Surface by simply wedging it in like a bookmark (although I’d probably be very concerned about damaging that display). Microsoft still seems to be working on developing their super-secret folding gadget, although people HAVE discovered several patents online. Personally, this could honestly be a pretty big deal for Microsoft. Whether you like it or not, they’ve had the monopoly on large-screen operating-systems meant for power-users all along. Android and iOS may be at a genuine disadvantage here, because their OS wasn’t developed for full-featured multitasking… Windows for desktop and tablet, on the other hand, has. If they can manage to deliver on a device that allows you to carry that large-screen (and its world of functionality) in your pocket, that’s just an incredible win for the company, and the OS!

Designer: Ryan Smalley

Know Something About Mobile Phones and Cloud Computing

The rate at which technology changes these days may be hard for even IT professionals to keep up with it. Today mobiles phones are increasingly replacing lap tops and computers. For businesses, this may pose huge security risks as employees are coming into the office with their personal mobile phones […]

How do you design smartphones for teens?

There are some parents who believe in limiting their child’s access to sufficiently advanced tech. Technology empowers, but it also means a lot of things. You can lose your privacy, your data, end up on wrong parts of the internet, and just be exposed to something you’re not ready for. For teenagers, that can be a pretty damaging experience. Especially considering Facebook was actually caught paying teenagers to spy on them just a month ago. I don’t blame parents for wanting to be connected to their children but worrying about the price of that connection.

This is U18. It’s a bare-basics phone that your child will probably not like, but then again, teenagers often don’t know what’s good for them, right? It allows you to make, answer, and reject calls, add and remove callers, and call your dad, mom, or set up a group call for parents/siblings. It even has a WeChat button that’s probably limited to reading texts, and a voice-command button that lets you tell the phone who you want to call.

Flip the phone over and it has a camera for video calls (there’s also a secondary front facing camera), and even a panic button for sending SOS signals to your emergency contacts.

The phone doesn’t have an OS that harvests and sells your information, or an internet browser that uses cookies, or apps like Google, Facebook, and Amazon that create dossiers on your personal information and preferences. It does the job of a phone, and provides a feature that’s essential to the parent/child relationship… the feature of communication.

Designer: c www.h (Konka)