OnePlus is allegedly toying with the idea of a smartphone with a single large rotating camera




Based off a patent from 2020 discovered by LetsGoDigital, OnePlus could possibly be working on a smartphone with a single primary lens that rotates independently, eliminating tilt while filming videos for more stabilized footage.

The details or the functionalities of such a camera remain unknown, although LetsGoDigital tapped into the talents of Technizo Concept to help render this idea to life. The results feel like a fusion of OnePlus’ later phones along with a camera that’s highly reminiscent of the Nokia Lumia 1020. The camera, according to the patent, isn’t like your pop-up camera, which featured on the OnePlus 7 Pro, but rather, uses a series of magnets to rotate in its place like a turntable. While the immediate benefits of such a shooting mode aren’t entirely apparent, it definitely goes a long way in eliminating jittery footage caused by the hands shaking while capturing videos. The rotating camera can keep the video 100% vertical or horizontal regardless of how you hold your phone (even if you switch orientations, the video still remains the way it was), and can even help effectively capture panoramas without any tilting. Combine this with the massive camera’s built-in image stabilization system and Hasselblad’s imaging tech and you’ve got a phone that packs an incredibly powerful shooter (along with what I can only assume is a large sensor to match) that gives you stellar images as well as shake-free videos.

A semi-detailed look at the camera system shows how massive the lens is in comparison with the ones seen on phones from the competition. Call it an ‘all eggs in one basket’ approach if you will, but the fact that OnePlus is even working on such a system shows their level of faith and commitment to the idea of an all-powerful single-lens camera. A larger sensor allows more light to pass into the camera too, making it easier to take ‘portrait blur’ shots, night-shots, and even high-speed photography. It’s worthwhile noting that the concept’s camera doesn’t pop in or out like a point-and-shoot. It stays just the way it is, with a camera bump that still feels respectably on the lower side.

While the concept certainly evokes a pretty strong reaction (you’re either going to be really intrigued by it or you’re going to hate it), let’s not forget that the concept is just that… a concept. Companies are always quick to patent technologies that they value as intellectual property, but it isn’t entirely necessary that every patented technology will make its way into a phone. The idea of a single-lens camera in the year 2022 seems decidedly bizarre (especially after OnePlus already announced the 10 Pro just this month with a multi-lens setup), but given the dizzying number of changes happening at OnePlus ever since their parent company Oppo decided to take over, it’s fair to imagine that the future for OnePlus isn’t going to be business as usual.

Designer: Technizo Concept & LetsGoDigital

Images via LetsGoDigital

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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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Samsung’s future vision is filled with screens that fold and bend




 

We’ll be seeing displays everywhere in the future, but some of them might be more than meets the eye.

We are already living in a screen-centric world. We do our work on computers, get our entertainment from TVs, and connect with other people through our smartphones. Even activities like reading books, listening to music, and staying healthy have become connected with devices like eBook readers, portable media players, and smartwatches. It probably won’t be a surprise if we one day wake up to a world filled with screens left and right, but Samsung is working to make those displays more interesting and, more importantly, more eco-friendly.

Designer: Samsung Display

Samsung is perhaps best known around the world for its smartphones and its TVs, and the company has been pushing the boundaries of its display technology for those consumer tech products over the past years. The most famous and most recent examples are perhaps the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3, currently considered the standard for foldable phones. Unsurprisingly, the company won’t be stopping there and will be bending and folding every display it can for almost any device.

On the mobile device side, Samsung showed off what it calls “Flex G” and “Flex S” displays that would allow an even bigger, tablet-sized screen to fold down to the size of a smartphone. Samsung will also be targeting laptops with its “Flex Note” screen, where a 17.3-inch display can fold in the middle to form a laptop with two 13-inch screens. The goal of these foldable displays, aside from boasting of the company’s prowess, is to increase people’s mobility without hampering their productivity, letting them bring along their work and entertainment anywhere.

You might have actually seen these before if you’ve been keeping tabs on unique and interesting display devices in the past years, but Samsung also brought something completely new to CES 2022. It showed off a smart speaker that seemed to have a cylindrical screen wrapped around it. But at the tap of a button on a paired smartphone, that screen unfurls and turns into a regular flat-screen panel, turning the smart speaker into a smart TV.

With LG’s vision of transparent screens and Samsung’s future shape-changing displays, we can probably expect our world to soon be littered with these bright surfaces in whatever form they may come in. That, however, might also mean an overall increase in power usage and carbon footprint, something that Samsung is thankfully aware of. Part of the company’s big spiel this year is on sustainability through its entire pipeline, from production to packaging.

For example, it is pushing its Eco2 OLED technology that reduces power consumption by removing unnecessary components. It recently also revealed a remote control that charges via Wi-Fi waves instead of electricity. With these, Samsung is trying to promise a future that is not only all about displays but, hopefully, also green.

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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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Safe Tag makes smartphones buying experience in stores convenient without sacrificing security

With the Safe Tag in use, you can walk into a smartphone retail store, pick up a phone of your choice and roam around the store testing it before buying without a store representative stalking you as if you were a thief.

There are a range of strategies and devices used by mobile phone retail stores to address the problem of shoplifting. One of the most prominently used is merchandising security that allows customers to pick and test a new smartphone while keeping it tethered to the display furniture. Some wireless mobile security systems, like the Safe Tag in use at the T-Factory retail store in Mapo-gu, Seoul in South Korea, have presented a workaround for this ugly user experience of anti-theft cables locking devices to the stand.

The Safe Tag for one allows customers to get rid of the shackles of cables holding the smartphones back – limiting the user experience – and allows them to freely pick up and tinker with the phone. The Tag, however, ensures the smartphone in the consumer’s hand is always protected by the wireless cradle that delivers a security alarm and sends location data directly to the store manager. It lets the staff remain assured that the phone will not be stolen and the resulting consumer experience is as smooth as silk.

This wireless security device for displaying mobile phones in stores is fashioned in two parts, the tag and the cradle. While the two, finished in a matte white hue, are designed to work in tandem, they can also pull off the job independently in case the tag is detached from the cradle. Using the Smart Tag is simple, the retailer can connect the tag to the smartphone’s charging pin and dock the tag into its cradle. The charging pin connected to the phone features a sliding hinge to ensure it can rock back and forth to accommodate smartphones of any thickness.

Once installed and placed on the display furniture, the Safe Tag is functional. It transmits a docked phone’s specifics to the linked e-ink display for user convenience and instantly rings a security alarm when a customer detaches the phone or the tag from the cradle. The alarm is accompanied by the location data, both of which are sent directly to the store manager who can then know the whereabouts of the phone. Interestingly, the alarm is also sounded if the phone travels – with the tag – beyond the specified distance from the cradle that features a built-in battery to run wirelessly, if required.

The Safe Tag is useful and effective as an anti-theft mechanism in retail stores for high-value devices like phones and deserves to travel beyond the bounds of South Korea. Though we are hopeful it will happen soon, there is no official word from the makers on this yet.

Designer: Kongtech Design Team

 

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Nothing phone (1) breaks the ice with transparent design and rear fingerprint sensor

Nothing’s smartphone is one of the most anticipated gadgets of 2022 that we hope revives the stagnant design status quo. This concept design gives us a sneak-peak of what could be coming our way, and the transparent aesthetics is what’ll set the Nothing phone (1) phone apart from the crowded marketplace!

Carl Pei embarked on a fresh new journey with Nothing after the huge success at OnePlus, and things have grown from strength to strength ever since we came across “Nothing.”  The brand focusing on breaking the barriers between people and technology, created quite the buzz with the debut product, the ear (1) TWS earbuds in white, and more recently the black version found many takers too. The London-based brand announced in October their partnership with Qualcomm and total funding of $74 million so far. Things are looking forward to the launch of Nothing smartphone in 2022, powered by the Snapdragon chipset, and the anticipation is running high as to when a radically designed smartphone will be released from the camp.

How the phone will look is anybody’s guess right now, but it could get the same transparent design treatment as on the earbuds. I just love the idea of a smartphone with a transparent back showing off all the intricate hardware components. Design student Osho Jain shapes our vision of a transparent Nothing phone (1), and how it would actually look. The concept revolves around the same design philosophy that’s apparent in Nothing’s vision and their first-ever consumer product. The phone has a clear back panel immaculately showing the wireless charging coil and the camera module in a cool sea green color. The fingerprint sensor moves to the rear – indicated by the tactile touch of a red button.

At key places on the back, there are words etched on the panels covering the components. Things like “Rethinking Everything,” “Nothingness of this Universe” or “Power in Less.” The phone has a peculiar OnePlus feel to it, and I don’t blame Osho to go that way since Carl’s contribution in crafting the flagship killer has been pivotal in the brand’s success.

There’s no mention of the hardware specifications of the concept phone visualizing the future of Nothing, but we presume they are going to be flagship-level, at a much lower price tag. The focus of the concept here is on the form and the sleek shape of the phone’s rear. I can just keep staring at that back panel all day long, and not get bored, ever!

Designer: Osho Jain

 

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An incredibly cute cup warmer that heats your drink and charges your smartphone is the new winter essential

Power banks have become a must-have accessory for their portability and convenience to juice up your mobile device on the go. Now taking a leaf out of that book, a designer has visioned a desktop appliance, which is functionally a cool mug warmer (to keep the beverage inside at a drinkable temperature) and comes with a USB slot to charge your phone or a smartwatch like a power bank!

There is nothing that meets the pleasure of a steaming hot coffee or tea while working. You get an extra kick to stay productive for a few more hours. However, there are times when you tend to forget and that hot beverage is left to become a cold brew sitting on the table. This is where a cup warmer like the one conceptualized by designer Dadaism J comes into the equation. The functionality of this cup warmer is to keep your compatible cup heated from the bottom to ensure the beverage inside remains at a particular temperature. This ensures you don’t have to sip on cold brew when your mug should have had a piping hot beverage. When I came across this cup warmer, I did a little search and found that this domain is not saturated at the moment, not many recognizable brand names have entered the category, meaning there is time and requirement for innovation and this cup warmer with charging functionality does deserve to see the light of day.

This I believe for a fact because the mug warmers currently available on the market come with an induction plate to place your mug. It aims to maintain a specific temperature of the beverage for you. Dadaism’s design just betters on the idea with the inclusion of a USB port on the front, which can be used to charge a mobile device simultaneously. There is also a small digital display on this colorful mug charger – it’s designed in three lovely colors – that shows you the temperature at which your beverage is being heated. Presumably, the cup warmer with a charging function also has an adjustable timer and auto shut off, which is common in the cup warmers already on the market.

While this cup warmer is primarily designed for your workstation, it has to connect to an electric socket for power. Given the niche functionality, this could also be useful in the outdoors to heat your mug of water or coffee at a camp per se, and when required also juice up your phone so you can remain connected even when you’re in areas off the grid. For this, the cup warmer will need to be battery-powered or even solar-powered; hope Dadaism would consider my suggestion for the prototype!

Designer: Dadaism J

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This handheld console brings back the Microsoft Windows phone as a portable Xbox gaming device

An ideal carrier for the Xbox Game Pass, this console concept from Anestétique Projets shows what a portable Xbox would look like.

Titled the XBOX Series A, this little number hopes to be the Google Pixel of handheld gaming devices. Just as the Pixel was invented to showcase the Android experience in its true glory, the XBOX Series A is a handheld console that’s designed to unleash the true power of Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass. Designed to outshine all the handheld devices taking a stab at mobile gaming (practically aiming directly at the Razer Phone 2, ASUS ROG, and Lenovo Legion), the XBOX Series A literally puts the power of an Xbox in your pocket.

Interestingly, the Series A device isn’t a highly-specced smartphone moonlighting as a gaming device… it is, from the looks of it, a console first, and a phone later. It also isn’t a handheld computer, like Alienware’s absurd experiment with the UFO concept. The Series A is a sleek device with smartphone-ish proportions but comes with actual physical controls that appear through the screen, acting sort of like physical keys that sit right where you’d expect the virtual controls to be while playing a triple-A title game on your handheld touch-sensitive device.

The XBOX Series A comes in the console maker’s signature B/W colorway and minimal design, and just through its handheld format, reminds me a lot of a similar concept for a portable modern PlayStation. However, while Sony’s already had experience in the portable gaming domain (on three separate occasions), the Xbox famously hasn’t ever made any portable console in 20 years of its existence. Microsoft, on the other hand, has released a whole line of Windows Mobile devices through the acquired Nokia brand, before finally shuttering that project. Recently, Microsoft resurrected their handheld computing device line in the form of the Surface Duo and Surface Neo. Having already scaled down the Windows OS for those two devices, a portable Xbox gadget running Windows with the Xbox Game Pass definitely sounds like something Microsoft could pull off… even if it were as a vanity project, or as a way of stealing the limelight from Sony’s wildly successful PlayStation 5.

Speculation aside, the XBOX Series A concept is quite the looker, with a slick design and practically flush or countersunk controls that make it easy to slip the gadget into your pocket without the joystick catching any fabric. The device comes with all the controls you’d need on-screen, including two joysticks, a D-Pad, action keys, and function keys, but look over to the other side and you’ll even see L1 L2 + R1 R2 buttons on the edge of the device. On the opposite edge lie power and volume buttons, a sim tray, a USB-C charging port (for easy charging while you’re gaming), and a 3.5mm headphone jack, much to the joy of seasoned gamers.

The device also comes with a camera, placed along the middle of the device, so your finger doesn’t brush against the lens while you’re gaming. I’d imagine it also makes AR gaming a possibility, allowing you to use the camera DURING gameplay. If you look carefully, there’s a hole-punch camera on the front too, located not in its conventional position, but rather along the longer edge of the phone, so it’s on the top when you’re holding the phone in landscape – a feature that could possibly allow gamers to capture themselves while online streaming.

The XBOX Series A is, much to my chagrin, just a fan-made concept. Designed to appeal to the hardcore gaming fan base (although seasoned gamers famously detest the idea of mobile gaming), the Series A hopes to provide some sort of fusion between a console and a smartphone, basically allowing you to play games even while on the go. It definitely isn’t, from Microsoft’s business model perspective, a practical or feasible idea… so let’s just admire this little work of art and hope that Microsoft IS, in fact, planning on building a portable version of the Xbox.

Designer: Anesthétique Projets

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Nifty gaming accessory turns your smartphone into a renegade Nintendo Switch OLED

If you don’t have the moolah for a handheld gaming console, the Gravitation Controller turns the one device you’ve got into a capable gaming rig. With an expandable ergonomic design, the Gravitation transforms your smartphone into a high-definition gaming device, relying on your phone’s powerful GPU and its high definition screen (grab yourself the latest flagship and you’ve got yourself an OLED display too, to rival Nintendo’s latest offering)

The expandable design of the Gravitation controller serves two purposes. Firstly, it provides a platform-agnostic gaming experience, allowing you to play on Android and even iOS devices alike. The expanding grips work with small and large phones, and can even grasp onto phones with cases, covering a wide variety of devices. Secondly, the controller even expands sideways, turning a relatively compact handheld gaming rig into something more expansive and immersive. When stretched longitudinally, the Gravitation lets you play first and third-person racing games with a steering-wheel-style ergonomic design. Moreover, a stabilizer built into the controller’s design lets the two grips rotate independently while keeping the smartphone perfectly horizontal. If that isn’t the most kickass feature I’ve seen on a third-party handheld mobile controller, I don’t know what is!

The Gravitation is a winner of the iF Design Award for the year 2021.

Designer: Compal Electronics

This funky wireless charger with Twitch emote keys lets you react to livestreams as your phone charges

Call it probably the most Gen-Z product ever, but the Wireless Charger for Twitch really helps pass a few hours as your phone’s battery gets charged. The wireless charging dock lets you rest your phone at an angle that’s easy to view, and a keyboard comprising 11 mechanical keys lets you send emojis right into the Twitch chatroom while you’re watching a stream. Call it the most entertaining wireless charger ever made.

The design was developed around emotes that best capture Twitch’s unique meme culture. Each key is emblematic of an emoji, and the keycaps can easily be replaced to choose which emojis you want on your keyboard – a feature that translates right into the app, letting you customize your inputs. The minute you dock your phone in place, a tiny NFC chip beside the charging coil connects the Twitch keyboard to your phone. The keyboard works as a Bluetooth input device, letting you comment in memes and emojis as you watch a stream. Spare keycaps can be turned into keychain attachments, letting you wear your Twitch allegiance as a badge on your person.

Designed as a promotional content piece for Twitch Korea, the Wireless Charger for Twitch is sadly just a concept… although any engineer worth their salt could easily hack together a gadget like this and publish the schematics on Reddit. If you do, however, happen to build this little bad boy out, don’t hesitate to drop us a line and share your creation!

Designer: FM Communications