HMD’s Clamshell “Boring Phone” is a nightmare for productivity but lifesaver for offline social life

Smartphone usage has become a nemesis for people of all generations, and this addiction isn’t going to die anytime soon. Some try to get out of the clutches with strong willpower, others try to restrict themselves with minimalist phones, and most of us simply give in to the temptation of using the smart device. Eventually, those who can’t limit their screen time succumb to the overhyped online world and damage their mental well-being.

The idea here is to get super bored with your phone, so that you barely find it interesting, to concentrate on more fruitful activities. That’s what HMD Global wants to achieve with a translucent flip phone developed in collaboration with Heineken and Boston-based creative streetwear firm, Bodega. The flip device carries a retro vibe and lets you connect with friends and family via phone calls or SMS. Yes, no social media or other time churning apps on this one folks. Not even the freedom to connect at 5G speeds. Can you take that challenge up when everything around you seems ultra boring, and you have nothing to fall back on?

Designer: HMD, Heineken and Bodega

Those who have seen or owned the Nokia 2660 Flip will instantly be hit by nostalgia, as this tech-handicapped device is based on the retro flip phone. The transparent casing paired with the monochrome theme makes the Boring phone interesting, at least looks-wise. There’s holographic Bodega and Heineken branding all over the device’s rear to pep up its desirability quotient. Functionally the device is super boring but looks steal the limelight here.

The barebones specifications will not interest nerds we are sure, as it comes with a 2.8-inch QVGA (240x320px) primary display and a 1.77-inch cover screen. On the rear, there’s a 0.3MP camera with an LED flash, but don’t bank on this to take normal photos you are used to even in broad daylight. To kill your time, there a snake game, FM radio (goodbye Spotify and Deezer), and a headphone jack to listen to your collection of songs.

128GB of storage should be more than enough to host your collection and if that isn’t enough you can expand it via a microSD card slot. The 1,450mAh battery lasts at least a week on standby and 20 hours on calls. HMD has fitted dual SIM slots and 4G connectivity, thank god for that if you ultimately buy this phone and decide to go on an adventure spree!

The Boring Phone is limited to just 5,000 units worldwide and it won’t be available to buy, spoiler alert. HMD will hand out the transparent flip phone to users via giveaways, competitions and consumer engagement events. This will start at the Milan Design Week on 18 April, and if you want to reclaim your offline social life, find a way to acquire one!

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This MagSafe compatible accessory with real clock helps curb digital addiction

Smartphone as a tool has evolved beyond comprehension but the double-edged sword characteristic of the mobile device has turned it into a nightmare for some. When not used in moderation, or excessive indulgence in time-consuming apps takes a toll on health and productivity, the smartphone becomes a self-destructive tool.

Even if you decide to go cold turkey and completely give up smartphone addiction, the demon haunts you, and the vicious circle strikes again. The best strategy is to have that sense of realization and not try to restrict anything, but rather realize how important your time is.

Designer: Hyunsub ‍Shin and Yeji Han

Thinking along the same lines, the two budding designers have mustered up this unique MagSafe-compatible accessory to get over digital addiction. Sticking to the back of the smartphone, there’s a real clock with a single-hour hand to keep one aware of the passing time. It also doubles as a holder for all your cards, quick cash, or any other important receipt. There’s space to insert a supplied paper card that gets the embossing of the clock hand for the time you’ve not used the phone. This can be used to jot down the tasks completed during that period for a sense of accomplishment and create a journal.

The premium-looking accessory also doubles as a stand if you want to consume multimedia content. Sure, it will add bulk to your phone but if you desperately want to take your digital detox seriously, it is a good way to do it.

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Mid-range Pixel 8A rumored to get underclocked Tensor G3 chipset, adapt the looks of its big brother

Made by Google event saw the release of flagship Pixel 8 series loaded with the in-house third-generation Tensor G3 chip. The smartphones come with some unique features to lure buyers who have the iPhone 15 and Galaxy S23 series in their crosshairs. This time around, Google has gone that extra mile in fine-tuning its hardware and software for the best user experience so far.

If the flagship Pixel 8 series is a bit out of bounds for you in terms of budget, then there’s good news. Already, the leak of the Pixel 8A phone slated for release in the coming months is in the cloud. The more affordable, mid-range device has made an appearance in the form of CAD renders.

Designer: Google

The rendered images clearly show the adaptation of rounded corners of the flagship Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro phones. This leak comes courtesy of OnLeaks and Smartpix who’ve released the legit renders of the 6.1-inch display smartphone with centered selfie camera. If you remember, a couple of weeks earlier trusted tipster Abhishek Yadav also leaked the renders of the budget Pixel 8 smartphone. Back then, the curvy design was a bit hard to believe, but ever since the release of the Pixel 8 series, Abhishek’s information now sounds legit.

As per both these leaks, the Pixel 8A codenamed Akita should get the Tensor G3 chipset like its bigger brothers. The only difference, the chipset will be underclocked on the upcoming phone. The screen on this rumored Google device has more prominent bezels and the camera module seems more or less similar. It will measure the same as the Pixel 7A, which is 152.1 x 72.6 x 8.9 mm. Out of the box, the Pixel 8A will get Android 14 with 7 years of updates and should have 8GB RAM.

From the renders, it can be confirmed, that the smartphone will at least get the carbon black, rose gold and cool blue color options. More information is expected to flow in about the Pixel 8A phone in the coming weeks, What’s the pricing (most likely less than $500), date of launch, and features that’ll make it a worthy upgrade over the Pixel 7A, should be clearer at that time.

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This sensible foldable phone with minimalist + clock mode is digital detox done right

Smartphone as a smart digital tool has changed the complexion of human lives in the last decade or so. Unfortunately, for most of us, the pocketable gadget now rules our lives more than ever, sucking us into the lucrative world of entertaining content, social media and constant information overload. A gadget that initially made us smarter than the average Joe, is now becoming the cause of anxiety and sleep deprivation, thus affecting our lifestyle more than ever.

To counter this, there are countless apps in the Apple App Store and Google Play, to curb screen time. For those who can’t resist the restrictions and break them more often, a full-proof option comes in the form of a minimalist smartphone that has the bare minimum a phone actually needs to have. Yes, I’m talking of the Wisephone and Light Phone II that give you no option to cheat around your own rules. Even better, giving the minimalist phone a good bump in aesthetics, feel and functional practicality is this 0/1 minimal foldable phone.

Designer: Andrea Mangone

Still in the concept phase, the phone is a hybrid of a normal smartphone and a no-nonsense device that lets you take a break from the lure of mindlessly scrolling through app feeds or playing games. This makes complete sense as people who have used minimalist phones eventually had to switch back to normal phones as some apps are required professionally or even during the normal course of life.

0/1 phone offers the best of both worlds, giving the user flexibility to switch between the two modes. Open up the device to reveal a flexible display with 1080×2640 resolution to enjoy social media, multimedia content and video games. As soon as you feel the need to go minimalist, close down the screen for a distraction-free interface. The e-ink display on the outside now becomes your main screen, showing only the most important stuff that doesn’t suck you into mindless scrolling. The interface can be customized with stylish analog or digital clocks, music player, calendar, or other simple apps.

If you want to go a step further, place the 01 phone in a vertical position (just like a bedside clock) when folded down. This activates the zen-like mode with no distracting notifications, and the thick form factor makes it feel like another desk gadget. Only calls, event reminders and a clock mode are active, thereby, converting your smartphone into a smart clock of sorts.

Coming onto the design, the phone gets an upbeat mix of materials and finishes inspired by “home décor, fashion and lifestyle accessories.” The body is crafted out of aluminum and the biopolymer coating lends it a warm, natural feel. The back panel gets a layer of rubberized vegan leather for a secure grip and the colorful hues of the nylon weaved tag integrated into the SIM card tray provide a visual contrast.

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Nothing Mini Phone adds glamor to glyph light with customizable designs inspired by car decals in games

Nothing Phone (1) was expected to shake up the smartphone market, at least everyone following Carl Pei from inventive revelations at One Plus thought as much. More so, the tech fraternity and industry analysts had the consumers on their toes with a bombardment of scoops. Eventually what unfolded was a device with an iPhone 13-like display, a purposeless transparent back panel, and a mid-tier processor on the inside.

It wasn’t really the product to break a tech enthusiast from his preference. Someone who toiled the impulsive waters had a mixed experience, both with the phone and the array of over 900 LEDs on the transparent back that glowed to notify you when a contact was calling.

Designer: Priyanshu Jaiswal

Now when Pei and team are working their way to perfect the creases from the first iteration of the transparent phone. A designer is giving us a walk-through of a handier version of a Phone (1) called the Nothing Mini Phone. As the name (not too difficult to distinguish its origin) suggests, the Mini Phone is a trimmed (form factor) clone of the Phone (1), but of course with some additional features to make it even more hep – how useful, that’s a story for another day.

While sticking to the basics of the Phone (1)’s aesthetics, Priyanshu has managed to create a body in matte finish with textured metal on the side for better grip and protection against accidental drops.
The Mini Phone features a vertically running display on one side and Essential TAB, vertical scroll, and a physical button on the other side (ideally, it’s to kick in the camera). The screens are not touch-enabled to avoid accidental touches. The extended screen on the left features a battery indicator that fills with a fizz when the phone is charging (interesting visual).

The Mini Phone is meant to be enticing to the younger generation with the play of glyph light and the option to customize the design through a color-changing backlight and sidebar. A user can change the design of the Mini Phone as they would customize the decal on a car in a video game.

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Sony Xperia 1 IV proves that speed is everything when it comes to camera phones

Sony remains a popular brand in consumer electronics. It’s one of those few tech giants that has entered multiple industries, from entertainment to gaming to appliances to mobile devices.

Sony hasn’t left the smartphone arena, and we believe it will continue to do so until people patronize the Xperia line. This smartphone series is a favorite among mobile photography enthusiasts for its professional and DSLR-level features. The latest is the Xperia 1 IV, another powerful premium phone running on Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor.

Designer: Sony

Sony Xperia 1 IV Features

The Xperia phone series’ aesthetics have not changed much, but this new model reminds us a bit of an iPhone. There is no more of that familiar pointed boxy form because the corners are now curved. If you know the Sony Xperia 5 III, this new phone looks more like it, especially with the same pill-shaped camera module.

The Xperia 1 IV is expensive compared to the latest flagship phones in the market. It costs $1,600, which is about the same price as a premium foldable smartphone. This flagship device has a 6.5-inch 4K OLED screen 120Hz refresh rate and a 21:9 aspect ratio. It uses Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset with 512GB storage and 12GB of RAM. The onboard memory is expandable up to 1TB with a microSD card.

Sony Xperia 1 IV Features

The Xperia 1 IV boasts a triple camera system on the rear when it comes to imaging. All lenses are 12MP but come with 16mm ultra-wide 16mm + 24mm wide-angle 24mm+ telephoto with 85-125mm true optical zoom. This means shooting with zoom will yield improved results.

The phone runs on a 5000mAh battery with wireless and fast charging support. Mobile security is accessible via the power button with an embedded fingerprint scanner. Other features include a dedicated camera shutter button, dual front-facing speakers, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Sony Xperia 1 IV Design

The Music Pro enhances the audio experience as it can record songs studio-style. The phone can capture 4K HDR 120fps video on all cameras. There’s also live video streaming, Eye AF, and Object tracking technologies. The latter can be helpful to videographers as the camera features are easy to understand and operate. Object Tracking helps in tracking a moving subject automatically. The feature helps keep objects in sharp focus even if they are not still.

Sony Xperia 1 IV Details

The phone also features built-in live streaming features for mobile gamers and videographers. Specifically, the Videography Pro features are for creative control in video streaming and recording. The display is protected by a Corning Gorilla Glass VictuS and IP65/68 water resistance. There’s also the standard Bluetooth connectivity, 3.5mm headphone jack, and full-stage stereo speakers. The 360 Reality Audio support is also available and very evident with the full-stage front-facing stereo speakers.

Sony Xperia 1 IV Images

Sony Xperia 1 IV

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This smartphone’s secondary display means less-intrusive usage without missing important notifications

A cool matte finish phone with a small secondary display on the back panel to make you do more with less intrusion. This brings productivity to the focus and notifications from your phone to stay in the backdrop.

Talk about smartphone designs, and we’ve seen them all the last decade or so. Right from the clamshell designs and sliding ones to the current generation foldables and the evolving rollable screens. Smartphones like Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra take a detour from the standard phone designs with a secondary small display on the back panel right by the side of the camera module setup. The Nubia Z20 phone with a big display on the rear is also a very brave move. Even the Meizu Pro 7 took a bold step with the vertical secondary screen below the camera module to offset the traditional phone market.

The SPhone by Sergey Popovich looks inspired by this niche smartphone design language with a utility that goes just beyond the display of important notifications. It’s all about creating a space for placing favorite widgets, especially with the possibilities of the Android 12 operating system which sets its focus on functionality and UI design to get more done with beautiful interface design aesthetics at the core. On top of that, the secondary screen on the rear comes in handy for making video calls with the primary lens which is always more potent than the on-screen camera.

Turning down the phone on its face does mean no distractions while you need to work, but missing important notifications or alerts could put the user at a disadvantage. This is where the secondary screen on the back comes into play to beam important notifications and keep the user informed, to either check them right away or delay them for later. Media player controls on the rear is also another undeniable advantage here. The fact that the screen is small means the battery will be preserved for longer as the main display won’t have to be opened every time notifications pop up!

Designer: Sergey Popovich

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Motorola wrap-around display phone concept is pretty but also pretty impractical

A phone that’s almost 100% screen has some benefits, but the ergonomic and practical concerns could outweigh those.

Most of the time we spend on our smartphones is, of course, spent on the screen. It is, after all, the primary point of interaction and feedback on modern mobile devices. Despite its importance, the screen actually covers less than half of a phone’s surface, which some might consider being a waste of space. Unsurprisingly, phone makers have been trying to come up with ways to take advantage of all the places where you can put a display on the phone, and Motorola’s patent reveals how that beautiful but unusual design can actually become useful.

Designer: Parvez Khan (Technizo Concept) for LetsGoDigital

Phones with displays that wrap around the body and leave almost nothing uncovered are right up there with foldable phones, transparent displays, and holograms that spark people’s imaginations. Given how small phones are compared to laptops or even tablets, it’s understandable that manufacturers and consumers will want to take advantage of every piece of real estate available on the pocketable device. Motorola is hardly the first to try, but it is one of the few to go the extra mile and explain why you might want to have an all-display phone.

Flexibility will be the name of the game for a phone where there is practically no front or back. No matter how you pull it out from your pocket or your back, that side facing you will always be the front, and the software will adjust the elements on the screen to match. You might not even have to fully pull out the phone, as long as you can see a small part of the screen. Again, the software could adjust the user interface elements, so you can immediately see who’s calling and swipe to reject or accept the call, even if only the “bottom” part of the phone is visible from your pocket.

Such a phone with a wrap-around display will have to do more work than most phones to pull this off. For one, it will need to use a variety of sensors to determine which direction the phone is facing in a pocket. The software running on the phone needs to be especially dynamic, as it needs to shift UI elements around to match the position and orientation of the phone. There are no physical volume controls, for example, and the phone will have to know on which side to place those depending on how a person is holding it.

Those might be easier to pull off than resolving some usability and ergonomic concerns that an all-screen phone might introduce. Phones whose screens curve off to the sides are sometimes criticized for accidental taps from palms for fingers. An all-screen phone might not have room for cameras either, and the current state of under-display cameras still leaves a lot to be desired. And then there’s the problem that dropping the phone on any side can actually damage the screen, knocking scores off its repairability and sustainability.

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Nintendo phone concept is a glimpse of a dream that will never come to be

Although it’s unlikely the company will ever go down this route, this concept smartphone is easily every Nintendo fan’s dream.

Although it is hardly Nintendo’s first handheld gaming device, the Nintendo Switch not only sparked the imagination but also drove sales sky-high when it launched back in 2017. Since then, the gaming giant has continued to milk that cow for all it’s worth, ignoring clamor for a long-overdue Switch Pro upgrade. Some Nintendo fans, however, actually wished that the company went smaller rather than bigger, bringing its iconic characters and titles to phones. Nintendo has sadly withdrawn from mobile games, but one fan tried to envision the best combination of Nintendo’s spirit and mobile technology.

Designer: Lee Huang

In terms of technical capabilities, Nintendo definitely has what it takes to make a Nintendo Phone. The Switch, after all, is pretty much a tablet with custom software and a very successful gimmick in the form of the Joy-cons. Nintendo could have also easily partnered with some smartphone maker for a “Nintendo Edition” phone, but that will probably pale in comparison to one that bears Nintendo’s iconic design language.

It’s easy enough to actually mistake this Nintendo Phone concept as a toy, especially with its use of soft pastel colors and round buttons. That’s precisely the point, though, because this is a handheld gaming device first and foremost, a phone only second. It might look out of place in a boardroom meeting unless you’re the type who will flaunt their inner gamer in any setting.

Those colorful rear plates are also the perfect palette for branding, like the special edition consoles that Nintendo and its competitors would occasionally put out. There’s also an opportunity for slapping on skins, of course, and you won’t be as hesitant to put a Pokemon-themed skin on this as you would a regular phone. There’s also plenty of room for accessories, including game controllers, given how more open phone designs are compared to something like the Switch.

The rather sad reality is that this concept will remain just that, a concept that will tickle Nintendo fans’ fancy and make them yearn for better days. Nintendo hasn’t had much success with mobile games for phones, and it might not have the capability to run an Android spin of its own. For now, Nintendo fans can take comfort in knowing that their community has no shortage of creative people who can share their dreams of things Nintendo could do but never did.

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A modular smartphone design with multiple accessories could be the tech evolution we want

A modular gadget that is more than just a smartphone – it is a suite of accessories that can be attached to the phone to turn it into anything you want!

The modular phone has been the dream for many big shots like Google who’ve invested a lot of time on Project Ara only to be dumped a few years ago. The idea of a modular smartphone is interesting but the implementation for the consumer market is darn hard. Fairphone has been holding on to this difficult domain with their latest model the Fairphone 4 powered by the Qualcomm 750G, making some strong waves in the market.  The modular aspect of the phone makes it long-lasting when we talk of replacing parts. No surprise it achieved a high repairability score of 9.2 on the French Repairability Index and 10/10 on the iFixit test.

The modularity dream for a phone that can swap parts like a Lego brick is still longing for perfection and this concept fuels the fire. Just like the Fairphone, Nicola Morelli’s Soul smartphone concept gives us something to dream about. A phone that can turn into a high-end DSLR camera or turn into a high-end customizable accessory for fitness freaks. The Nintendo Switch-like interactive vibe is more about changing the format of the gadget using extensive modules rather than just adding functions with internal hardware swapping. Soul itself is one of the modules and the other attachable modules are called bodies. The main module itself can be used as a basic smartphone when you don’t require any other functions.

While the designer doesn’t narrow in on more modules for use with the Soul phone, I can think of a few attachments. A module to accurately measure the temperature and altimeter on a mountain hike, or maybe a high-end tripod attachment that has a powerful telescopic lens to gaze at the stars. The possibilities are endless with this concept phone!

Designer: Nicola Morelli

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