Samsung foldable concept could be the solution to the foldable phone design problem

Foldable phones might seem like eccentric luxuries, but they do also try to solve a problem, that of the paradox of display size. Consumers want larger screens that allow them to enjoy their content more comfortably but do not want actually large devices that make it inconvenient to carry them around. Foldable phones try to offer the best of both worlds of a handy smartphone and a large tablet, but current technologies have too many compromises to make that happen, not to mention price tags that prevent these devices from becoming mainstream at all. While creases are starting to disappear slowly, durability is still a major concern. More importantly, current designs require a second “outer” display to make the phone usable even when folded shut. Samsung is now showing off a new foldable display and hinge that can bend both ways, potentially putting an end to all the foldable design debates.

Designer: Samsung (via The Verge)

Although Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold might seem to be the standard design for foldables these days, it wasn’t the only one in the beginning. The Royole FlexPai and the Huawei Mate X (as well as the new Huawei Mate Xs 2), both of which launched before the first-gen Galaxy Fold, had an “outie” design where the screen folded outward and backward. This created a device that only had a single screen, reducing the components and complexity required by an “innie” design like the Galaxy Z Fold. At that time, however, the fragile nature of flexible screens and early hinge technologies made that design less than appealing.

The likes of the Galaxy Z Fold 4, OPPO Find N2, and other “innie” foldables protected that expensive display panel but at the cost of needing an external screen if you wanted to use the device as a regular phone when closed. Otherwise, you’d be left with something like the Microsoft Surface Duo that had to be folded backward to make use of even a single screen. The ideal for a foldable phone would be folding both inward and outward, and that is what Samsung’s “Flex In & Out” display is trying to propose.

At first glance, the prototype looks like an ordinary Galaxy Z Fold phone with its flexible panel folding inward. However, it can actually bend past 180 degrees all the way to 360 degrees, which means it can completely fold back in the opposite direction. This really combines the best of both worlds of innie and outie designs, removing the need for a second external screen and potentially reducing the build cost of the entire device.

Samsung showed off a similar technology last year in the form of the “Flex S” display, though that seemed to only fold in one or the other direction rather than both. It is unknown when this display will be ready for production and mass consumption, presuming it’s even durable enough to withstand not only multiple folding but also hard objects inside pockets or bags. It might still take a year or so for this device to actually become available for purchase, so Samsung fans will have to settle for a more traditional Galaxy Z Fold 5 with a hopefully improved “waterdrop” hinge.

The post Samsung foldable concept could be the solution to the foldable phone design problem first appeared on Yanko Design.

TECNO Phantom Vision V concept phone folds, rolls, and has plenty of screens

Although there is still plenty of doubt and hesitation surrounding foldable phones, especially due to their prices, there is no shortage of vendors trying to get into the game nonetheless. It isn’t just foldables either, with some companies doing research and tests on phones with rollable screens as well. This latter category has still to make any formal entry into the mobile market, but there has definitely been plenty of ideas on how such a rollable phone should work. Young brand TECNO, which has been showing off a few bold concepts recently, has also thrown in its two cents, demonstrating a concept of a phone whose screen both folds and rolls yet still has two additional displays for good measure.

Designer: TECNO

Foldable phones try to solve the puzzle of screen size and portability. While many people wouldn’t mind having a large display they can view more content on, they do mind not being able to easily keep it in their pockets or small bags. Foldable phones like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and the OPPO Find N2 offer a small phone-sized device that has a tablet-sized display, but that display is still no match for something like an iPad, at least not in size.

One alternative solution that has been proposed is to combine both foldable and rollable technologies to truly deliver that “tablet in your pocket” experience. That’s precisely what the TECNO Phantom Vision V brings to the table, at least in concept. Just like the aforementioned foldables, the devices opens to reveal the flexible display inside, but it still has one trick up its sleeve. The left side of the device expands further, rolling out additional screen real estate that would be equivalent to a 10.1-inch tablet with a more normal rectangular aspect ratio.

An additional detail that makes the Phantom Vision V a bit more interesting is another small display below the camera array on its back. This mimics the cover display of flip-type clamshell foldables that offer a more restricted set of functionality, mostly for notifications and quick actions. It’s not hard to imagine it’d also be used for taking selfies using the more powerful rear cameras.

It isn’t exactly clear from the video and images if the TECNO Phantom Vision V has a more traditional cover display on the opposite side, allowing the device to be used like a regular phone when folded close. There’s a possibility that the rollable side of the screen would also be used on that external part, which would save up on the components and build costs. That does mean that a flexible part of the screen will be exposed on the outside, which could raise concerns about durability. Given the non-trivial design, it will probably take some time before it even becomes reality, and TECNO isn’t saying anything about its prospective timeline to take the Phantom Vision V into production.

The post TECNO Phantom Vision V concept phone folds, rolls, and has plenty of screens first appeared on Yanko Design.

Actual prototype unit confirms exactly what the upcoming Google Pixel Fold will look like

YouTuber Dave2D got his hands on a dummy unit of the alleged Pixel Fold and here’s everything we know… and feel.

First off, this isn’t even scandalous anymore, given that Google has perhaps the worst track record when it comes to keeping upcoming smartphones a secret. Last year, the company prematurely revealed what the Pixel 7 would look like just for kicks, months before the phone actually launched… so when I see a YouTuber talking about ‘credible leaks’ of Google’s next product, my best bet is that they’re as credible as it comes! Anyway, earlier last year Jon Prosser debuted renders of the highly-anticipated Pixel Fold device, and it seems like Dave2D’s latest video confirms everything we know. Google IS indeed working on a folding Pixel smartphone with an inward-facing foldable display. Although just a 3D-printed dummy unit, Dave2D’s prototype is surprisingly slim, and has a shorter, stouter form factor, similar to Oppo’s Find N2 device.

Designer: Google

The dummy unit doesn’t really reveal much apart from the bare-bones design of the phone, but it’s enough to piece together a fair bit of information. When placed alongside the Pixel 7 Pro, the Pixel Fold is relatively shorter, making it easier to hold and operate with a single hand. When compared to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4, the Pixel Fold is MUCH more ergonomic, letting your thumb reach parts of the screen that you couldn’t with Samsung’s foldable. The device also has a new camera bump design, going for something more pronounced like the iPhone’s camera bump, unlike the Pixel’s curved bumper design. All indications show that the Pixel Fold will have the same 3-lens camera unit like the 7 Pro, although the flashlight seems to have migrated to the left of the lenses for some odd reason.

Perhaps the most interesting detail here is the screen, which Dave2D mocked up in post-production to reveal what the Pixel Fold’s actual screen sizes and resolutions will most likely be. The outer screen is expected to have a hole-punch camera, while the insides reveal thicker bezels on the top and bottom, and a camera built right into the upper bezel.

Closeup of the internal single-lens camera setup

Dave2D also speculates that aside from mimicking the Oppo Find N2’s smaller form factor, the Google Pixel Fold will have a similar hinge detail too, that causes the screen to recede inwards when folded shut, causing it to assume a more natural water-drop shape that gives it a longer life while minimizing the crease that tends to form with foldable displays.

A USB-C port on the bottom comes as no surprise, although there isn’t any word on wireless charging capabilities

Although there’s no official word from Google, we could expect the Pixel Fold as early as this year, alongside the Pixel 8 launch, or probably even sooner when Google officially announces the Pixel 7A. The Pixel Fold is also expected to cost an eye-watering $1700, although I’d probably hold my wallet if I were you. Given the company’s track record with axing products and services, we don’t want another Stadia on our hands, do we now?

The post Actual prototype unit confirms exactly what the upcoming Google Pixel Fold will look like first appeared on Yanko Design.

5 Reasons the Microsoft Surface Duo 2 Design Failed

They may be technological marvels, but foldable and rollable screens remain just that in consumers’ eyes. Foldable phones have been on the market for almost five years now, but they’re still considered to be expensive eccentricities and luxuries that only a few can really afford. Even if they were more affordable, most people would probably still not be able to justify such a purchase, especially considering some concerns regarding durability. The Microsoft Surface Duo and its successor tried to offer a less risky yet still expensive interpretation of the foldable design, offering two distinct screens rather than folding a single one. At first, it seemed that it would actually be a new mobile device category to stand beside typical foldables, but the rumor now is that Microsoft seems to have thrown in the towel. Although it did have its fair share of fans, the Surface Duo 2 just didn’t seem to click with the masses, even less than the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold, and these are five reasons why.

Designer: Microsoft

Identity Crisis

To some extent, the Microsoft Surface Duo is in a class of its own. You can’t really call it a smartphone, even though it does make calls since it’s rather awkward to actually use it as a phone unless you’re always wearing earbuds. You can’t even fold the Surface Duo 2 back completely now that it has a camera bump. You can easily call it a tablet, either, even though content can span both screens to form one single display that has a very noticeable cut in the middle. Even Microsoft itself avoids calling the Surface Duo by either name, preferring to just refer to it as a “dual-screen mobile device.”

The Surface Duo’s unconventional design does warrant a different classification, though it’s not exactly original in the basic concept. LG tried to take a stab at a dual-screen phone with a case that you can attach and remove as needed. The experience, of course, was very different, more similar to how you’d connect a second monitor to a computer. The Surface Duo had that capability built-in, saving users from having to juggle accessories. It didn’t, however, solve the fundamental problem of exhibiting an identity that people can understand and relate to, which would have gone a long way in making the device more appealing beyond mere curiosity.

The device’s ambiguity meant that it was actually difficult, if not awkward, to use it like you would a familiar mobile device. It’s too wide to use as a phone when folded, and it’s unusable as a “full” tablet when spread out. Admittedly, it’s unfair to judge the Surface Duo by these standards because it’s neither a phone nor a tablet but a completely different device. Unfortunately, people will approach it from either direction because they’re more familiar with smartphones and tablets and might not be able to adequately wrap their heads around a new creature such as this, especially when they might not even understand what it is for. Unfortunately, Microsoft’s target audience makes it clear that it’s not for everyone in the first place.

Niche Business

The Surface Duo 2 can do almost anything a smartphone or tablet can do, especially if you use only a single screen. Those won’t take full advantage of the device’s capabilities, though, and you’ll have to make use of both screens at the same time. And therein lies the biggest question of the Surface Duo’s design purpose. While most people will probably want a bigger screen, how many will actually need two somewhat small screens instead? Why, those who use two apps at the same time, of course!

The School of Jobs and the smartphones that followed have conditioned our minds to use one app at a time, deftly switching back and forth between apps and screens as needed. This is admittedly very limiting, especially if you’re used to the multi-window world of desktops and laptops. There might be some who wish they could do things at the same time or see two apps simultaneously, and it’s exactly for that use case that the Surface Duo was designed. To be more specific, the dual-screen device is made for highly productive people who find themselves always switching between two or three apps.

The subset of mobile users that regularly do this, however, might be very small. Microsoft is clearly focusing its marketing on business users who’d have different documents or apps running at the same time to compare or even share data. There is also the case of some more social users who might be chatting away while watching a video together or browsing the Web. These are definitely legitimate use cases, but not common enough to make the idea of the Surface Duo to be so popular that it would drive sales. Because while the device does enable using two apps side-by-side, the unfortunate truth is that these apps and the Android platform, in general, were designed for single-screen use and remain stubbornly so.

Growing Software Pains

Whether it’s iOS or Android or anything in between, mobile operating systems have been designed from the start with a single screen in mind. And while Android did actually have the foundations for multi-window support, few outside of the likes of Samsung ever took advantage of that and evolved it. Now iOS, particularly iPadOS, has left Android in its dust, and devices like the Surface Duo or even the Galaxy Z Fold are having trouble shoehorning a different paradigm into the platform.

The first release of the modified Android system for the Surface Duo was pretty much disastrous, with plenty of instabilities and bugs marring the otherwise beautiful first-gen device. To its credit, Microsoft has been addressing those issues slowly but surely, yet the fact remains that Android apps always behave as if they’re the only show on stage. It doesn’t help that that stage doesn’t seem to push those actors to play well with others, even when all the facilities are there. It will take a Google foldable device for Android to really adopt all these features it already has, but that’s a story for another day.

To be fair, even Samsung’s foldables have this kind of problem, only that the phone maker giant has been working on its solution for years. Those flaws are more pronounced on a younger device like the Surface Duo. Despite being primarily a software company, Microsoft still has trouble adapting Android to its needs. And, unfortunately, it doesn’t exactly have a track record in that aspect, either.

Software is Hard

Just because Microsoft is adept at making software doesn’t mean it’s an expert at everything. Some might even refute how good it is at software development in the first place due to innumerable issues with Windows and Office. That’s even truer with platforms that aren’t its own, particularly Android, which it has been using ever since it ditched the idea of any form of Windows on mobile. It hasn’t had much success then, and it doesn’t seem to be having better luck now.

To be fair, Microsoft has shown better performance with the Surface Duo 2, at least as far as pushing fixes is concerned. Unfortunately, even those fixes leave some things to be desired, and the software still shows some of the problems exhibited in the first Surface Duo. Given the fast pace of Android updates, Microsoft is clearly lagging behind on that front as well. Confidence in Microsoft’s ability to fix those software issues isn’t exactly that high, and the latest rumors only serve to validate those doubts.

Microsoft switching to a single foldable screen for the Surface Duo 3 doesn’t make all those problems go away. It could, however, alleviate or even fix some of the problems, particularly when it comes to having to support two screens, something that Android at its core still doesn’t do well in the first place. Unfortunately, it does pretty much throw away all the rhetoric around the first Surface Duo devices, validating once again that Samsung’s design might have been right all along.

An Answer in Search of a Problem

The biggest problem with the Surface Duo design is that there was probably no problem, to begin with. While some will say that this applies to foldable devices as well, it’s even more poignant with a dual-screen mobile device. The Surface Duo 2 is slick, beautiful, and innovative. Unfortunately, it is also incomprehensible for the majority of consumers, even those that can actually afford one. Microsoft tried to offer a device that seemed less fragile than a Galaxy Z Fold but unfortunately slapped a price that is just as inaccessible anyway.

Microsoft did have a clear audience in mind, but it might have overestimated its own clout in that industry. It might have envisioned a large army of mobile users who depend exclusively on Microsoft apps and services, but that ship has long sailed. Without support for other “normal” apps, the overall experience was clunky, awkward, and sometimes even unusable. The Surface Duo 2 definitely has fans that are now disillusioned at the path that Microsoft is rumored to take, but those fans won’t be able to help turn the device into a profit.

While the Surface Duo 2 is admittedly an interesting innovation, at the end of the day, it’s still a product that has to bring Microsoft money. By turning away from the dual-screen design, the company is effectively admitting that it failed to accomplish that. The “innie” foldable screen first used by Samsung is by no means perfect, but it’s also more usable for both regular and power users. It remains to be seen how much of the Surface Duo user experience will remain in such a different device and whether or not it will even be worth investing in a Microsoft mobile device that could suffer the same fate as other Microsoft mobile devices.

The post 5 Reasons the Microsoft Surface Duo 2 Design Failed first appeared on Yanko Design.

MOFT elevates mobile life at CES 2023 with new stands and mounts for iPhones and iPads

The tech frenzy in Las Vegas may have finally died down, but the CES dust has far from settled. There are more than a few products and prototypes that can be unpacked beyond our 35 best designs for CES this year. Despite the wide range of consumer electronics and technologies showcased, all of them have the common goal of improving human lives as well as helping our planet heal. That can be as grand as four-seater flying cars that will take commuting to new heights, literally, or something as simple yet as effective as making it easier to use our gadgets today. That kind of meaningful improvement is what MOFT is offering Apple fans with a new set of accessories designed to take their iPad and iPhone use to the next level, almost literally as well.

Designer: MOFT

Whether it’s for consuming content or creating them, tablets are often used at the desk level, which is the most uncomfortable angle for using them for long periods. While there are a few stands that try to raise the tablet screen to a more ergonomic level, the new MOFT Snap Float Folio easily outclasses them in design and versatility. Inspired by origami, the Japanese art of paper folding, this protective cover can set the iPad as much as 3.6 inches higher, while its four versatile angles let you use the iPad in various ways. Even better, the folio is made of fiberglass from recycled materials and a premium leather-like PU surface that makes it lightweight yet luxurious.

It’s not unusual for people with MacBooks to keep their iPhones nearby, though usually lying on the desk or propped up on a stand below eye level. Either way, switching back and forth between MacBook and iPhone is sure to strain your eyes and neck. The Flip Laptop iPhone Mount easily solves this by making your iPhone seemingly float beside your laptop screen. The mount attaches to the back of a laptop, and its arm can flip out in three different orientations to magnetically hold the iPhone securely. The mount is made from soft faux leather, and the adhesive can be removed without leaving a mark on your laptop’s stylish lid.

Sometimes, your quality of life doesn’t exactly require an ergonomic height but instead focuses on everyday carry convenience. The new Snap Stand Power Set offers this portable flexibility with a battery pack and a stand and wallet, both of which can magnetically attach to an iPhone, either together or alone. The minimalist design and scratch-resistant faux leather give these accessories a luxurious appearance that adds to your iPhone’s prestige, even when they’re riding on the smartphone’s back.

If you’re going to carry your iPhone around, though, you might want to take a gander at MOFT’s new Sling Case. Making you look hip while swinging your iPhone along, the case’s hidden strap connectors let you securely attach an adjustable lanyard of any length. The soft-touch faux leather case is compatible with MagSafe accessories and gives you even more reasons to save yourself the awkwardness of bulging pockets.

The post MOFT elevates mobile life at CES 2023 with new stands and mounts for iPhones and iPads first appeared on Yanko Design.

Motorola wants to replace Blackberry as the ‘business phone’ brand with their ThinkPhone

Lenovo’s captured the enterprise audience with their series of ThinkPads and ThinkBooks, and Motorola (somewhat of a Lenovo subsidiary) believes that it can do the same for the smartphone market. The demise of BlackBerry definitely left a void that really hasn’t been filled yet – the void of the business-phone, which the Lenovo ThinkPhone (by Motorola) fits perfectly into. Designed to look like a handheld version of the Lenovo laptops, the ThinkPhone is Motorola’s version of making a fun, appealing, and secure phone for the working individual.

Designer: Motorola

The ThinkPhone looks a little different from the other kinds of phones Motorola offers, especially the Razr. Designed less for individuals and more for organizations, the phone takes on a rather white-collar demeanor with an aramid-fiber backplate that has the words ThinkPhone written on it in the signature 45° angle as the ThinkBooks do. The phone’s all-black design is punctuated by the use of a deep orange in a bespoke button on the left of the screen, synonymous with the red nub or TrackPoint found on ThinkPad laptops. Apparently, Motorola’s teamed up with Microsoft to provide unique features for this button including a ‘walkie-talkie’ mode that works with Microsoft Teams to aid better communication. The ThinkPhone will also ship with Microsoft 365, Outlook, and Teams mobile apps preloaded, making it pretty enticing to companies buying phones in bulk for their employees.

The phone’s designed for enterprise use in mind, with a whole slew of software features that are less for the average consumer and more for professionals. The device is protected with built-in advanced hardware-based and premium A.I.-based security solutions such as Moto Threat Defense and Moto Secure. Additionally, the ThinkPhone arrives with Moto KeySafe, a separate processor running on Android, that adds an additional layer of security to better protect the most sensitive data in the smartphone. “It isolates PINs, passwords, and cryptographic keys, storing them in a tamper-resistant environment protecting the data from the inside out,” Motorola mentions.

What’s impressive about the ThinkPhone is that it reimagines what a smartphone is to the enterprise. Sure, it’s a great phone for regular users, it has a pretty capable 50MP camera on the back for photos, boasts of a 36-hour battery with 64W TurboCharge, and it’s also running the latest version of Android… however, the phone’s user experience is tailored almost perfectly for business use too.

It integrates seamlessly with ThinkPad laptops, including Lenovo’s flagship ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11, and also has a few rather impressive tricks up its sleeve, like the ability to instantly discover your PC and connect with it over the same WiFi network, the ability to sync notifications and even clipboards, a File Drop system that works just like Apple’s AirDrop, and an Advanced Webcam feature that turns your phone’s camera into a webcam for your laptop – yet another Apple-inspired feature. The ThinkPhone also runs 5G, offering instant hotspots to your laptop with a single click.

“I’m excited to launch the Lenovo ThinkPhone, a device that truly embodies the trusted quality and purposeful design of the ThinkPad while also bringing unique productivity tools, and industry-leading security and device management capabilities.”, says Sergio Buniac, Motorola President and Lenovo Senior Vice-President. “With its premium specs and seamless integration with the ThinkPad, the ThinkPhone will maximize the experience for business customers for years to come.”

Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola will be available in the US, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Australia, and select countries across Asia in the coming months. Pricing hasn’t been revealed yet, but I assume it isn’t a detail that customers will really have to involve themselves with, given the fact that the phone’s targeted more as a company-specific device than a solo user-specific one.

The post Motorola wants to replace Blackberry as the ‘business phone’ brand with their ThinkPhone first appeared on Yanko Design.

TCL just announced a pair of sleek AR Glasses along with a bunch of other tech devices at CES 2023

While the AR glasses stopped us dead in our tracks, the company also unveiled a host of other devices from TVs to soundbars, ACs, refrigerators, tablets, phones, TWS earbuds, and a VR headset.

I was today years old when I learned that TCL is USA’s 2nd largest TV seller. The company clearly is doing something right, with its high-quality display units that are also exceptionally affordable. The company revealed this fact at their CES 2023 keynote, before highlighting all the innovations it has planned for the year. It debuted 2 ranges of new TVs, the S series of smart TVs that also double as monitors, should you choose, and the Q series of QLED TVs with more dimming zones and better brightness, and the flagship QM8, a Mini QLED television that can go up to 98 inches in size to provide a whopping 5000 dimming zones. The company also unveiled a set of sub $300 soundbars in S and Q series too.

Designer: TCL

A pioneer in displays, TCL also debuted two tablets that rival the iPad Pro with their sleek and functional designs. The NXTPAPER 12 Pro comes with a 12.2-inch 2K display that feels just like paper. It has four speakers, stereo microphones, and dual 8MP front-facing cameras to rival Apple’s own tablet, along with the ability to snap onto a wireless keyboard for a laptop-like experience. The NXTPAPER 12 Pro also has support for a stylus and runs Android 13 on an 8000mAh battery that gives it 13 hours of use.

The Book X12 Go was also announced as TCL’s new hybrid laptop with a detachable keyboard for ultimate usage flexibility. It too runs a 12.2-inch 2K screen but runs Windows 11 instead of Android 13. It also has a 30Wh battery that provides 14 hours of productivity with also the ability to reverse-charge.

The company’s displays also now benefit the everyday user thanks to TCL’s 40 series of smartphones that contain 3 different models, all with 90Hz displays and built-in 5G, and a special 2-in-1 ‘hyper-camera’ on the 408 model for photography nerds.

TCL also announced the MOVEAUDIO Air, their pair of TWS earbuds with an AI-enhanced quad-mic system for the clearest call quality. The earbuds also weigh a stunning 4.4 grams and boast of a 32-hour battery life (with the charging case) and IPX4 waterproof rating.

The RayNeo X2 was perhaps the most anticipated new tech in TCL’s lineup. Designed as a successor to the company’s previous NXTWEAR S, the RayNeo X2 are the world’s first binocular full-color microLED optical waveguide AR glasses. That’s just fancy talk for the fact that they have the best displays ever built into a pair of AR glasses as small as this, with 1000 nits of brightness and displays in both eyepieces for the perfect AR experience in indoor and outdoor applications. The glasses sit on your face without really occupying too much real estate, and can provide real-time subtitles just like Google’s demo concept from earlier this year, thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 chipset on the inside. They even have cameras built-in, capable of taking FPV photos and videos like Facebook and Ray-Ban’s Stories glasses.

Finally, TCL also revealed the NXTWEAR V, a flagship-level VR headset with 4K+ displays in both eyes offering 1512 PPI resolution for optimal clarity, along with a 108° FoV and 6 degrees of freedom – a feature that’s come to be expected from all good VR headsets. Two cameras on the front also enable the headset to have a ‘transparent mode’ that lets you basically use the cameras as eyes to see what’s in front of and around you as you move around.

The post TCL just announced a pair of sleek AR Glasses along with a bunch of other tech devices at CES 2023 first appeared on Yanko Design.

vivo iQOO 11 Review: An excellent flagship that will go unnoticed

PROS:


  • High-end specs in a "vanilla" model

  • Large, fast-charging battery

  • Decent cameras especially at night

CONS:


  • No dust or water resistance rating

  • Limited availability

  • Forgettable design (Alpha variant)

RATINGS:

AESTHETICS
ERGONOMICS
PERFORMANCE
SUSTAINABILITY / REPAIRABILITY
VALUE FOR MONEY

EDITOR'S QUOTE:

The iQOO 11 delivers a remarkable bevy of premium features in an affordable package you won't be able to easily buy in most markets.

The year is almost over, but smartphone manufacturers aren’t exactly done yet. Coming up at the last minute is vivo’s performance sub-brand iQOO, presenting to the world what is actually one of the first entries into the next generation of smartphones that will be arriving next year. This gives the brand the opportunity not only to end the year with a bang but also to start the next one on the right foot. But with so many smartphones already in the market and more yet to come, one has to wonder if every new model has what it takes to even get a bite out of that lucrative yet crowded market pie. That’s the challenge facing the nascent iQOO 11, so we take it for a test drive to see if it can stand out and rise above its peers.

Designer: iQOO

Aesthetics

Designing the appearance of a smartphone can be a delicate and unrelenting balancing act. On the one hand, you need to be noticeable at first glance, even from afar, to attract attention and potential buyers. On the other hand, the market’s high and rapid turnover of designs means that it’s difficult to pick out brands and even models just by looking at them. This tug-of-war between individuality and brand recognition is an ever-present struggle for most smartphone makers aside from Apple, and it seems that iQOO has tried to play it a bit safe this time around.

The iQOO 11’s basic design is pretty much standard among phones, with large rectangular camera islands taking up an obscene amount of space on their backs. To its credit, iQOO has been using this structure on a large number of its phones, varying only the arrangement of the lenses and the placement of the bump’s “chin.” To be fair, the iQOO 11’s appearance isn’t as obnoxious as others, but at the same time, it might also look a tad plain to the eyes, all too common in a sea of smartphones with large rectangular boxes housing their cameras.

Granted, that’s only true for the black “Alpha” variant we’re reviewing. This model gets an AG frosted glass for its back that makes the phone look stylish yet subdued. The other “Legend” variant, however, has more personality, thanks to its BMW M branding. That is expressed in a predominantly white back with the motorsports’ iconic red, black, and blue stripes running down its back. Beyond appearances, however, there is also more variety in materials used here, including vegan leather for the majority of the surface and fiberglass for the stripes. Not everyone will like this more active design, but it’s hard to deny it is more memorable and identifiable as well.

The iQOO 11’s back curves at the edges to meet the premium aluminum frame, a bit of a holdover from the days when curved was fashionable. In contrast, the phone’s display is completely flat, which is the current trend on most devices, with some exceptions. The large 6.78-inch screen is surrounded by very thin bezels, leaving plenty of room for content. As they say, content is king, and the bright and vibrant display definitely enthrones it in the best way possible.

Ergonomics

Considering how we use our smartphones for long periods of time every day, it is paramount that they are comfortable to hold in our hands. Given how expensive they have become, it’s also important that they allow a firm grip on the device to prevent it from slipping or falling off our hands. Unfortunately, the design of some phones and the materials they use don’t always work towards that goal.

The iQOO 11’s 208g weight isn’t much, especially for a phone with this big a screen. It gets a bit less wieldy, however, when you consider the size of the device, the material on its back, and how you’re forced to hold it for some operations. The black Alpha’s frosted glass is nice to look at and feels good in the hand, but it’s also slippery and almost precarious. Fortunately, iQOO does ship its phones with a clear silicone case as a protective measure. Unsurprisingly, the Legend doesn’t have this problem thanks to its more textured leather back.

One small but important consideration is the placement of the fingerprint scanner on the screen used to unlock the device or authenticate logins and transactions. On the iQOO 11, it’s a little too low for comfort, forcing you to place your hand lower, which could make it slip from your hand, or use a finger from your other hand. It’s definitely doable but not exactly comfortable.

Other than those considerations, though, the iQOO 11 is definitely a joy to hold in your hand or hands. The curved edges of the back cover don’t cut into your hand, though the ergonomic benefits of such a design are now being contested by flatter designs. Given the power that the phone offers and the experiences it unlocks, you might easily forget about such considerations, at least until you feel the soreness in your hand or, worse, accidentally drop the phone onto the pavement.

Performance

Manufacturers often reserve the best specs for “Pro” models, leaving vanilla or base models to be flagships only in name and appearance. That’s what makes the iQOO 11 an unexpected but much-welcomed surprise because it bears most, though not all, of the features you’d expect from a high-end and expensive premium phone. That starts with the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, which needs no introduction. Together with fast UFS 4.0 storage, the phone exhibits chart-topping performance, whether you’re just browsing the Web, playing games, or even creating content such as videos and images.

The 1440p 144Hz AMOLED display is also a big surprise, literally and figuratively. It is simply one of the best panels around, reaching high brightness levels and displaying accurate colors that you can tweak to your preference. That high refresh rate, though, feels more like a marketing stunt than an essential feature since very few apps other than benchmarks seems to be able to use it. For the most part, the phone intelligently switches between 60Hz and 120Hz depending on the content, ensuring that videos and games will be buttery smooth while prolonging battery life for other tasks.

To support all this power, the iQOO 11 has a pretty large 5,000 mAh battery that is responsible for most of the heft you’ll feel in your hand. With moderate “regular” use, you’ll find yourself left with just a little under 50% at the end of the day, and even an intense day of watching and gaming will still see you through until you need to recharge at night. And when it does come to recharge, you only need around 24 minutes to go from flat to 100%, thanks to the included 120W charger. Suffice it to say, you won’t be wanting for anything when it comes to all-day power and performance.

iQOO did seem to cut back a bit on the cameras, though not in any way that ruins the iQOO 11’s winning streak. On paper, the trio of sensors that live on its back sound middling or mediocre, but in practice, only one of those fits that description. The 50MP main camera produces very good images, whether under bright light or on overcast days. The 13MP 2x telephoto camera is hardly perfect, but it is able to manage on its own quite well. It’s the 8MP ultra-wide sensor that’s the black sheep of the family, resulting in images that are “good enough” but never notable. Overall, the phone does remarkably well in this area, considering the hardware it has to work with. Part of its success likes in vivo’s V2 imaging chip, which can be credited for the camera’s excellent nighttime performance that makes a dedicated Night Mode almost superfluous.

Sustainability

If the iQOO 11’s design looks common, its sustainability is just as similar as other phones in the market. That is to say, there isn’t much to talk about it, especially in a positive light. It has the usual blend of non-sustainable materials, both inside and outside, though the use of vegan leather on the Legend edition might be a point in its favor. There’s also little to no word on the company’s commitment to sustainable practices, even in packaging. The fact that it ships with a charger might even seem detrimental, though you’d be hard-pressed to find a compatible 120W charger anyway.

What makes the phone’s situation a little worse is that it has no advertised IP rating for dust and water resistance. While phones are always manufactured to a certain standard of durability, there is no assurance that they all have the same survival chances against small particles and liquid. Granted, an official IP rating is quite expensive and sometimes unnecessary in light of a manufacturer’s assurances. Sadly, iQOO doesn’t even make claims to assure buyers of the device’s long-term survivability.

Value

The iQOO 11 definitely checks all the right boxes when it comes to smartphone features, at least for those parts that interest users. It might not look impressive unless you grab the BMW M-branded variant, but many won’t mind that if they can get a high-performance device without overspending. Again, the iQOO 11 aims to please with a price tag that amounts to around $540, significantly lower than most premium flagships.

The problem, however, is whether you can get your hands on one in the first place. Unlike its parent company, iQOO has an even shorter list of markets that it serves, mostly in China and Southeast Asia. That means that despite all the power and performance that it can deliver, you won’t be able to experience a single one of those. You could try your luck importing it from other retailers, but network compatibility concerns make it a rather expensive gamble. You’ll be better off buying something that’s actually available in your area, even if it doesn’t have the same features.

Verdict

The vivo iQOO 11 is the epitome of how looks can be deceiving. Although it is by no means unattractive, its rather common design might get it easily overlooked by potential buyers looking for something more noteworthy, even without a case or skin. The BMW M Legend edition does have more character, but not everyone will fall in love with the sports car branding. If you manage to look past appearances, though, you will find a very capable device that will get you through a day with aplomb. Whether it’s for serious business, distracting games, or even content creation, the iQOO 11 has enough muscle to support your every need and whim.

That said, they also say that the devil is in the details, and small nitpicks here and there could make it look less attractive, not to mention completely unfeasible. The cameras are good but not excellent, and the lack of IP rating could nag people’s subconscious minds. There’s definitely plenty of room for improvement and plenty of opportunities for an iQOO 11 Pro to steal the spotlight. Unfortunately, neither phone will be available on a wider global scale, making all of these nice things ultimately moot for many people.

The post vivo iQOO 11 Review: An excellent flagship that will go unnoticed first appeared on Yanko Design.

OnePlus 11 phone is coming next week with an eye patch camera design

Before there was Nothing, the darling of the smartphone world, at least on the Android side, was OnePlus. It arrived on the scene with guns blazing, challenging the status quo of feature-rich smartphones that only the rich could comfortably afford. It’s arguable whether the company has been able to maintain that mission, especially with its rising prices and the way its peers have started carrying the same message. That said, every new phone under its brand is still a matter of interest to many Android fans, and its next flagship might not be an exception. The OnePlus 11 is set to launch in China next week, and it will be bearing a camera design that is both unique yet also mildly excessive, blending different styles together.

Designer: OnePlus

OnePlus’ design philosophy focused more on bringing components and materials that are usually found in more expensive brands to a more affordable handset. There was even a point in time when it offered different materials and styles for replaceable back panels, including a variety of wood as well as Kevlar-based carbon. As far as the overall design goes, however, OnePlus didn’t stray far from current trends, but it has been trying to create its own visual identity of late. And based on the company’s own pre-launch teasers, its next flagship will definitely be distinctive in terms of its camera design.

As camera hardware gets more sophisticated and bigger, so, too, do the modules that hold them. There has been a variety of designs used by different brands ranging from the discreet to the obscene. Some designs seem to build off on others, like how the OnePlus 10 earlier this year seemed to have taken some of the elements from the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s “Contour Camera” design, making it look like half a visor or one of those sci-fi cybernetic eye implants.

The OnePlus 11, based on the company’s own teaser photos, takes this a step further by planting a circle right on top of that camera module while also rounding one of the edges. This design subtly hides the fact that the camera module is actually taller than it normally is due to bigger hardware. To be fair, OnePlus has made the design look fluid and smooth to mitigate the visual disruption such a large shape would have on the back of the phone. It’s definitely eye-catching, though not necessarily in a good way.

OnePlus hasn’t disclosed much of the hardware aside from the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor and fast LPDDR5X RAM and UFS 4.0 storage technologies. It will most likely have cameras that will make that rather overstated design worth the space it occupies. It also seems that OnePlus is teasing the return of its popular sandstone material for at least one model, though its availability is, of course, uncertain at this point. The OnePlus 11 will be announced in China on January 4th, but global availability won’t happen until a month later.

The post OnePlus 11 phone is coming next week with an eye patch camera design first appeared on Yanko Design.

Top 10 Apple concepts of 2022

Since its foundation in 1976, Apple has been always been at the peak of modern innovation! And let’s take a moment to appreciate all the awesome products and inspiration Apple has provided us with. The groundbreaking tech giant never fails to surprise us, we always find ourselves biting our nails and squirming with curiosity, whenever Apple announces a new product launch! Their ingenious and mesmerizing designs and design philosophy have inspired and influenced designers all over the world, resulting in some pretty unique Apple-inspired designs. And we encountered some pretty amazing Apple-inspired concepts in 2022!  From a folding iPhone that Apple didn’t announce during the keynote but they should have to an Apple Car 1 concept that embodies the brand’s award-winning design philosophy and an exciting self-driving function – these mind-blowing designs are the best of the lot and a dream for every Apple lover. We can’t help but just hope that Apple converts these into a reality in 2023!

1. The iPhone iFold

Meet the iPhone iFold, a concept foldable from the mind of Michal Dufka. The iPhone iFold (although Apple would probably call it the iPhone Dynamic Clamshell) follows the format of the MotoRAZR and the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip, with a clamshell-style folding design that gives you the benefit of a compact iPhone with a generously large screen. This is the first iPhone to have two displays. With a smaller display located just to the side of the camera bump, the iPhone iFold lets you access essential stats and notifications without opening your phone. Sort of like having the convenience of an Apple Watch, this secondary display gives you the gist of what’s up.

2. Apple Car 1 Concept

The core idea of Apple’s concept car gravitates around a minimalistic and elegant form. That Magic Mouse resemblance is deliberate, defining the flowing lines of the next-generation car that’ll most probably be an evolved self-driving vehicle. The Magic Mouse inspiration lends the Apple Car 1 a dropping motion to the front and rear for balanced volume. Another inspiration comes from the Airpods Pro for a heightened sense of power and dominance on the road – hence the bulged-out wheel section for muscular profile and overall contrast.

3. The Apple Watch Series X

Titled the Apple Watch Series X, this quirky concept gives you a smartwatch with a larger folding screen, allowing you to use it as a de-facto iPhone. After all, your watch can make phone calls, right? The Apple Watch Series X is your regular foldable, in the sense that it comes with a primary screen on the front, and opens like a book to reveal a ‘larger’ secondary screen on the inside. Obviously, I use the word ‘larger’ rather loosely, considering how small the Apple Watch’s form factor is, to begin with. Designed to sit on your wrist, this foldable concept turns the square-shaped WatchOS interface into a more traditional landscape one, unlocking the possibility for a lot of regular apps to make their way onto the wristwatch, including better Netflix and YouTube-watching experiences.

4. Kim’s Apple Glasses Concept

The Apple Glass prototype that we have seen fluttering on the internet is currently believed to feature a plastic frame. Apple could though consider something that Eunho Kim has conceived in his concept: A detachable metal frame that clips to the temple of the round glasses. As we learn, Apple will be placing a LiDAR scanner on the right temple, and the clip-on arm may take some tinkering. Still, since Apple is reportedly refraining from using any other camera on the glasses, it could be an option to consider.

5. The Apple Car

Meet the Apple Car, from the mind of an AI. Designed by Dall-E 2 based on a text prompt from designer, educator, and YouTuber John Mauriello, this Apple Car is fascinating for two prime reasons – the car’s design itself, but more importantly, the underlying AI technology that ended up creating the car. The genesis for this idea came from Marques Brownlee’s own efforts with DALL-E 2. In a YouTube video, Brownlee demonstrated how simply typing the words “Apple Car” resulted in a car that looked like the apple fruit.

6. Apple AirPods Pro 2022

In line with the leaks and speculations about Apple’s upcoming flagship earbuds, designer Konstantin Milenin has created this concept AirPods Pro 2022 model to give our imagination a tangible form. The stemless design of the audio accessories looks minimal and compact. The charging case also gets a flatter design to accommodate these little earbuds. Unlike the current version, these lay flat on their belly like a clamshell design, and don’t have an upright stance. This will mean, a lot less space needed to stash them in your pocket or keep them in the bag pack.

7. All-screen Apple MacBook Concept

This different species Apple MacBook will, Antonio defines, support TouchID (as a slide button), a trimmed version of FaceID, and a gorgeous AirPen to scribble neatly on the generously big screen. All-display foldable Mac may lack a physical keyboard but the design here makes provision for the choice to pull up a digital keyboard with haptic feedback for the real typing feel. Fanboys may or may not fancy the idea of an all-screen MacBook, but there is little denying the fact that such a device will have dual usage. An iPad role to play when folded and a full-fledged laptop when open.

8. iPhone V

This modded iPhone folds in half and is called the iPhone V. In addition to the folding function, the modder has been able to keep the phone pretty authentic by running iOS, and a screen as good as the Retina display. It’s an interesting concept that however substantiates the fact that foldable phones with more screen real estate look good but only if the folding mechanism and the thickness can be perfected.

9. The Apple Car AVA

The Apple Car concepts we’ve come across have ranged from practical ones to completely crazy ones. This one lies in the former pool with its well-sough out design. The designer envisions the concept for the year 2026, so it’s not far off the rumored timeline. The AVA concept has the familiar contoured silhouette on the corners, and the streamlined flowing aesthetic associated with the Apple product line-up; especially the current iPhone 13 flagship. The balanced aerodynamic front and rear built of the four-seater sedan looks attractive and highly practical, to say the least.

10. The Apple Magic Charger

Looking somewhat like the iPhone Lightning Dock, the Apple Magic Charger is based on a metal stand, which features a metallic puck integrated within its square rim. The device is likely made of anodized aluminum while the round charging area within is rubberized. Interestingly the aluminum stand allows the charger to be pushed into a vertical position to charge the connected iPhone. Reportedly, and as suggested by the available images, the Magic Charger was designed to keep the connected iPhone upright and in a horizontal position; perhaps this limitation of use could have been a reason the magic was never done outside of the Apple production lines!

The post Top 10 Apple concepts of 2022 first appeared on Yanko Design.