Belkin’s 2-in-1 wireless charger comes with a built-in Bluetooth speaker to fuel your Netflix binge sessions

Raise the battery level and drop some tunes!

Belkin’s BOOST↑CHARGE™ Wireless Charging Stand + Speaker turns that smartphone into a makeshift multimedia device that you can comfortably watch Netflix on… without having to reach for the charging cable or your AirPods. The wireless charger lets you easily dock your phone in place, while its upward-firing Bluetooth speaker and built-in microphone take care of the audio end of things, making it perfect for anything from video calls to binge sessions, and from watching that recipe tutorial on YouTube to following dance or workout videos online. Modeled on Belkin’s BOOST↑UP wireless charging stand, the BOOST↑CHARGE lets you dock your phone in both landscape as well as portrait. Providing 10W of power, the stand fits phones of all makes and sizes and the fact that there’s now a built-in speaker on the back just makes things so much better! (The BOOST↑UP notably didn’t have any speaker)

The BOOST↑CHARGE comes in two colors (white and black) and is available for $49.99 on Belkin’s site. Keep it on your desk, nightstand, kitchen counter, or mantelpiece. The BOOST↑CHARGE gives you a wireless charger and a multimedia device set-up all wrapped into one gadget!

Designer: Belkin

The dual-purpose stand holds your phone in vertical as well as horizontal orientations. Its universal design supports any phone and the charger works with any wireless-charging-enabled smartphone. There’s no MagSafe on this, although keep it on the stand and it automatically aligns with the charging coils.

A speaker module right behind the phone is what sets the BOOST↑CHARGE apart from the ocean of wireless charges on the market. A 40mm audio driver on the inside gives the speaker punchy audio (which is more than what I can say for most wireless chargers), and a built-in microphone offers crystal clear audio input, allowing you to even use the BOOST↑CHARGE for video calls too.

The Belkin BOOST↑CHARGE wireless charger + speaker comes in 2 colors, and with a 2-year limited warranty on the device.

Oneplus’ $15 wireless Gaming Triggers turn your Android smartphone into a Nintendo Switch

Good News: They work with Android as well as iOS devices. Bad News: They’re currently only being sold in India.

The Gaming Triggers from OnePlus dropped randomly out of the blue when company CEO Pete Lau tweeted about them. According to Lau, they’re solid, responsive, and pleasingly clicky – and they’re built to work with any smartphone (regardless of their make), because “the best product design is one that leaves you free to make your own choices.”

The Gaming Triggers work like an extra set of fingers. Hit the trigger and a plunger taps a part of your screen. Designed to sit on the upper edge of your smartphone as you game in landscape mode, the triggers are specifically targeted towards players of Battle Royale-style multiplayer mobile games including PUBG, Call of Duty, Free Fire, although mounting and using the triggers sacrifices a small portion of screen estate as they physically cover your smartphone display.

The OnePLus Gaming Triggers’ price point is exceedingly low for most gaming hardware (even mobile ones), although that’s purely because they’re completely analog and have no electronics on the inside (instead, they have capacitive pads that tap on your screen when triggered). This also makes them compatible with any touchscreen device including your Android smartphone, iPhone, and even your iPad, as long as the device in question is under 11.5mm in thickness (case included).

The triggers can be independently placed on any side of the phone, and they come with a bilaterally symmetric design. Depending on your on-screen buttons, you can distribute them on the left or right, or use them both on one side of the phone. They can be used in portrait mode too, although the ergonomics of that arrangement is really up to the user.
Fun Fact: You could potentially even use them to activate your camera shutter, giving you a real, tactile camera button that’s much easier to press instead of awkwardly tapping your smartphone display with your thumb.

The tactile capacitive buttons work remarkably fast, offering zero lag as compared to wireless controls. OnePlus uses industry-leading Omron switches inside the Gaming Triggers, providing users with that reliable clicking sound and much better tactile feedback as they play. The switches themselves are made from a Zinc alloy, for that cool metallic touch, and they sit within a PolyCarbonate enclosure for that rugged, long-lasting build quality. Sadly, the triggers are only available to customers in India through the OnePlus website for a price of 1,099 rupees (a little under $15). OnePlus hasn’t really mentioned anything about global availability yet.

Designer: OnePlus

BlackBerry is still alive… And its latest smartphone will have 5G and even a physical keyboard

It seems like BlackBerry still has some fight left in it! After being unceremoniously dumped by TCL following a failed 4-year license agreement, BlackBerry partnered with OnwardMobility, a mobile security company, to work on its upcoming line of smartphones. In August last year, OnwardMobility issued a press release highlighting that they would be launching a “5G BlackBerry Android smartphone with a physical keyboard in North America and Europe.” The company even stated that they would be partnering with Foxconn subsidiary FIH Mobile Limited to design and manufacture these smartphones. As we gradually approach the launch of these phones, Jermaine Smit (better known as his internet alias Concept Creator) has partnered with LetsGoDigital to envision what these phones will probably look like… and let’s just say, they’re about as long as a meatball sub.

Ask any Max-sized iPhone users what an annoyance it is to reach the back button on the top-left corner of a screen and you’ll probably figure out that smartphones are already pretty big to begin with. The Blackberry Key 3 concept adds a further 1.5 inches to the smartphone’s height with a dedicated, physical, touch-sensitive keyboard. Now I don’t mean to dunk on the Key 3, the physical keyboard has always been BlackBerry’s schtick… but maybe a slide-out keyboard would work better for a smartphone in today’s world. That aside, the Key 3 looks rather impressive.

The BlackBerry Key 3 concept comes with a profile that’s reminiscent of the Note 20 Ultra. It features a flat surface on the top and bottom, while cascading edges on the sides result in a phone that’s comfortable to hold, along with a waterfall display, there may be a chance of the phone registering accidental palm touches. The camera setup on the back features 3 lenses and a flash, looking quite similar to the one found on the OnePlus 8, and sitting right beneath that is the familiar BlackBerry logo. Flip the phone back over to the front and it kind of looks slightly meme-ish. It’s obscenely long, considering the screen’s already 20:9 to begin with. Adding to that is a slight forehead bezel (which features a single front-facing camera) and a massive chin, which houses a full QWERTY keyboard. The QWERTY keyboard, from what I can tell, is a part of the display, but it’s always there… even when you don’t need it. Sort of like the soft keys often found on Android phones, the keyboard is static in its position, and can easily be used when you need to type. This ideally means a keyboard never blocks or overlaps elements on the screen, so you’re always treated to a full-screen interface all the time. I’m not entirely sure if the keyboard’s layout is dynamic, i.e., whether it changes to reveal emojis or other languages, but if I were a betting man, that would honestly be a pretty remarkable feature. I could even imagine having app-specific controls, like playback controls for YouTube and Netflix, or gaming controls while you play games (reminds me of the LG Wing if I’m being honest). There are a few undeniable perks to owning a BlackBerry phone, and I’d say the Key 3’s no different. Aside from the keyboard, BlackBerry phones are known to have a much higher security standard than your regular Android or iOS device. If you can somehow look past the length of this phone, the Key 3 could actually be a compelling device to a certain subset of people. Besides, look to the base and you’ll even notice a 3.5mm headphone jack!!

Designer: Concept Creator (Jermain Smit) for LetsGoDigital

A closer look at the camera module, which looks heavily borrowed from the OnePlus 8. There’s no reason to believe that the original BlackBerry phone will sport the same camera module, so we can write this one off as Concept Creator’s own personal touch. That being said, if the BlackBerry did have a camera that was as good as the OnePlus 8, it would still be leaps and bounds ahead of what they’ve currently got.

From the looks of it, the phone sports a brushed metal back, which would probably mean no wireless charging. There is, however, a Type-C port on the base… and I may be sounding like a broken record here, but I’m still pretty impressed by the fact that flagship phones in 2021 can still have 3.5mm jacks!

There’s no indication of what this concept’s dimensions are, although it’s worth remembering that the BlackBerry Key 3 is just a fan-made concept phone. OnwardMobility announced that BlackBerry would launch its 2021 smartphone sometime in the first half of the year, so if things are still going according to schedule, the phone should ideally be announced in the next 2 months or so!

Image Credits – LetsGoDigital

An iPhone with a Nokia-style sliding keyboard would make more sense than a folding phone

It’s the year 2005, and Nokia’s E-Series phones have a cult following that’s difficult to ignore. The phones came with a relatively large-ish screen, but what really sealed the deal was the fact that you could slide the screen to reveal a nifty, usable QWERTY keyboard underneath. Before the iPhone became the computer in your pocket, the Nokia E-Series phones were the computers in everyone’s pockets. The E stood for Executive, and it wasn’t uncommon to see businessmen in suits strutting down the road with Nokia phones in their hand and Jabra earpieces in one ear. It was the iPhone and AirPods combo, nearly 15 years prior.

I think the fundamental problem with the smartphone touchscreen isn’t its size, it’s how we use it. Screens have a finite amount of space for infinite amounts of data, which makes designing interfaces really complicated, and using them even more so. In that regard, just empirically, a bigger screen on a smartphone doesn’t make it ‘better’… which is why this concept by Johan Gustafsson feels so refreshing. In a world where smartphones are finding new ways to push more pixels into a smartphone, Gustafsson’s iPhone Q brings a level of sensibility to that computer in your pocket – by simply making it a miniature computer!

The iPhone Q (named after the fact that it comes with a dedicated QWERTY keyboard) presents a bold ‘new’ vision for the iPhone. I use the word ‘new’ in air-quotes because while adding a dedicated tactile keyboard to a phone isn’t new, it’s new for the iPhone, and more importantly, it presents a new format as smartphone companies desperately try to make their phones look less blockish and more gimmicky. In a world of folding phones with creased displays, pathetic battery-lives, and clunky bodies, the iPhone Q feels like that perfect premium, enterprise-grade smartphone to pair with the iPad Pro or the MacBook Pro. The phone comes sans a notch, but makes up for the lack of a front-facing camera with a complete tactile keyboard right underneath the screen. The screen slides upwards in landscape mode, revealing the 42-key keyboard below, which can be used as a much more functional alternative to the on-screen keyboard, allowing you to quickly replay to messages and send out emails in a jiffy. A dual-lens camera on the back reinforces the fact that the iPhone Q is less of a multimedia device, and more of a piece of functional hardware, designed for a niche of executive users.

Sure, the iPhone Q is just a concept, but even conceptually, it feels much more contextual and sensible than a folding iPhone with a larger screen. Quite like the iPhone Pro, designed for professional media-creators, the iPhone Q serves a niche group of users, becoming a perfect alternative to people who still use BlackBerries. Sure, they may be a small group RIGHT NOW, but if the iPhone did sport a dedicated slide-out keyboard, I’m pretty sure a lot of executives and office-goers would promptly make the shift!

Designer: Johan Gustafsson

This sleek foldable phone’s practical form factor is designed to boost smartphone photography!

Foldable smartphones hit the scene in a big way a couple of years ago, but they have failed to make any major inroads (as speculated when they first burst into the scene) in the highly competitive segment of the phone market – yes, I’m talking about the flagship segment. The form factor so far has been limited to the clamshell of the Moto Razr, the Galaxy Z Flip, or the bigger tablet-like folding form of the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and Huawei Mate X. To liven up things and give consumers a sneak peek at how foldable smartphone technology is going to shape in the near future, concept phones refresh the monotony of the predictable designs that we are used to.

The Compal CHEESE is the latest to catch our eye, and it seems good both on the practicality front as well as form and function considering what the end-user actually looks forward to. This smartphone is designed to satiate the cravings of photography fanatics with a very compact form factor that justifies daily use-case-scenario. CHEESE has only one camera module on the top, and the upper third half of the phone folds to be used as a selfie shooter. While you might be sucked into believing that it is similar to the Asus Zenfone 6 or Zenfone 7, but they have a rotating camera system and not a folding display like the one on the CHEESE. Without being too bulky or wide (like Samsung or Motorola), the phone manages to balance out the daily phone usage with photography perfectly.

The thing here to note is that the phone folds as the dual cameras face outward in the phone mode. The major half of the screen is for you to use as a viewfinder and photograph composition, and if you’re clicking a portrait of your friend, he/she can see themselves in the folded part of the screen facing them. Furthermore, the side edges of the display act as the camera shutter or be used for other functions like zoom or even to display notifications when you’re not clicking pictures. While it’s still a blueprint of what Compal could make in the future – pricing of anything under $1,200 will keep prospective buyers interested.

Designer: Compal

World’s first carbon-fiber smartphone is ‘lighter than a bag of Doritos’

The term ‘Carbon Fiber Monocoque’ was, up until now, reserved mainly for automobiles and aeronautics. With the Carbon 1 Mk Ⅱ, that term now sees itself being used in the world of smartphones too. The material isn’t entirely new to smartphones. Makers and manufacturers have often used small amounts and trims of carbon-fiber in smartphones (mainly as a marketing feature), not just because it’s much more expensive than aluminum, but also because of its ability to block radio waves. Germany-based startup Carbon Mobile, however, has figured out a way to make a phone with the entire body crafted out of a single piece of carbon fiber.

The Carbon 1 Mk Ⅱ uses a monocoque design – which means the phone’s external body also comes with integrated supports on the inside, increasing its overall strength while reducing the number of parts needed to make the phone robust. This helps bring the Carbon 1 Mk Ⅱ’s weight down to a ridiculous 125 grams (a bag of Doritos weighs 150 grams), proving that most of a smartphone’s weight lies in its use of dense materials like metal and glass. While the carbon-fiber does drastically bring the weight of the phone down, it does raise the question regarding carbon fiber’s ability to block radio waves. To avoid this problem, the startup spent 4 years developing a new kind of carbon composite called HyRECM (Hybrid Radio Enabled Composite Material). Woven right into the carbon fibers is a special composite material that allows radio waves to pass through, giving the Carbon 1 Mk Ⅱ 4G LTE capabilities, along with WiFi 5, Bluetooth 5.0, and NFC capabilities.

Its lightweight construction is reinforced by the fact that the Carbon 1 Mk Ⅱ is just 6.3mm in thickness. On the front, the phone comes with a sprawling 6-inch display (it does have bezels, however) and a 20MP camera, and on the back, a dual-camera setup gives your images clarity and depth, although don’t expect it to match up to a flagship phone like the iPhone 12 Pro. The phone runs Android 11 (as of Q2), and comes powered by a MEDIATEK P90​​ Octa-Core chip, with 8GB of RAM, 256GB internal storage, and a neat 3000mAh battery. Given how slim the phone is, it obviously doesn’t come with a headphone jack, although there is a fingerprint scanner built right into the edge of the phone, right below the volume button. The Carbon 1 Mk Ⅱ is up for pre-order with a relatively steep price of €799 ($952), although at that price, you’re pretty much paying for the world’s first carbon-fiber smartphone that’ll never ever succumb to #bendgate !!

Designer: Carbon Mobile

This iPhone camera inspired mirrorless digital camera makes your photography session distraction free!

Apple’s smartphone cameras remain some of the best when it comes to smartphone photography. While the argument for the best smartphone camera could easily go on for hours, the iPhone’s camera is trusted by many for its high-performance ISP and fast shutter speeds, among other defining features. Taking the best qualities from the latest iPhone camera and transferring them to a digital camera, Nuno Teixeira recently debuted his Apple camera concept that takes on a mirrorless design for a lightweight carry and speedy performance grade.

Mirrorless digital cameras essentially work without a reflex mirror, an angled mirror that reflects light from the lens into the viewfinder. When a digital camera takes on a mirrorless design, light passes directly through the lens to the digital sensor, which displays the lens’s captured image on the camera’s LCD screen. Opting out of including a reflex mirror means a few things. Teixeira’s mirrorless Apple camera would have a much more lightweight feel, a more compact body, and could be a lot more efficient at snapping quick photographs on the go as well as videos. Like the iPhone camera, mirrorless cameras don’t come equipped with a bunch of extra hardware, so some smaller details are left out of the build, making for a digital camera that’s ergonomic in design and easy to carry. In addition to its mirrorless design, Teixeira’s camera also offers a full-frame sensor which means that no part of the image captured will suffer from crop factor due to the camera’s sensors being too small. Best of all, no silly notifications to disturb you while taking that amazing shot!

Supplementing all the perks of a conventional digital camera, including flash, zoom, video-recording capabilities, light meter, and shutter speed adjustment dials, Nuno Teixeira’s Apple camera concept also comes with a waist-level LCD viewfinder for those stealthy shots ready to be taken at any given moment. Built from carbon steel, these cameras have been rendered in white steel, baby blue, and charcoal and even come with in-camera charging features.

Designer: Nuno Teixeira

Designed with Carl Zeiss details, Teixeira’s Apple camera concept was designed for the creative workflow.

Teixeira’s Apple camera concept comes with a large LCD screen.

Teixeira’s Apple camera has a nonslip, diamond-etched carbon steel body, allowing for a secure grip and durable build.

Teixeira’s Apple camera concept has been rendered in baby blue, chrome white, and charcoal black.

A waist-level LCD finder helps to show you exactly what your captured photograph will look like.

In-camera charging features equip Teixeira’s Apple cameras with the ability to be charged anywhere there’s an accompanying outlet.