Is the Flip concept phone the future of mobile?
A while back I brought up the topic of how many smartphones are beginning to look alike. Though many thought it was a petty argument, manufacturers have pushed creativity to the wayside and found themselves digging a rut using the same form factor for everything. It's not a major ordeal; people will still buy phones if manufacturers continue to pump some impressive specifications into the same ol' design. But what if something entirely new was brought to the market?
A while back RIM was granted patents for a dual-screen device, somewhat resembling a Nintendo DS. While that isn't exactly going to appeal to many people, it's the concept behind it that might. Over the past three years – since the launch of the original iPhone – smartphones have taken on a very generic look. A display with a few buttons along the edges of the device and a couple buttons below the display on the face. That was fine for how we used phones then, but we are using our phones less and less for calling and more for text messaging, media consumption, and instant access to information. This basic design still works fine, but it could be much better.
Earlier this morning, Engadget shed some light on a concept Android phone conjured up by Kristian Larsen. A tri-flipping, glossy masterpiece. Looking at the device face-on, you wouldn't think it had anything special to offer. However, it has three flexible Super AMOLED displays covered in Gorilla Glass, steel mesh hinges, and a physical keyboard all wrapped in an aluminum case.
In the video (found by either source link) there are several different configurations that can be used to your advantage. You can prop the device into a “triangular prism” shape and view videos on both outward facing displays, where more than one person can watch a video at the same time. Keeping the device in the same configuration, rather than panning up and down on a web page by dragging your finger, you can just rotate the device – not sure if that's effective, but it could definitely be useful in various cases.
My initial reaction to this device was that this was way over the top. Three displays, a physical keyboard, and who knows what else this thing would have under the hood. But the more I look at it, the more I watch the video, the more it makes sense. And to be honest, I want this thing...now!
Remember, this is just a concept phone – a render. It's not an actual working model, but it's cool nonetheless. It probably isn't the best implementation either. As of right now, smartphones are still fragile, Gorilla Glass or not. Imagine how much more money is on the line when you add two more displays. Until the price of small, capacitive displays come down, it won't be likely to see a dual- or triple-display on a phone. Regardless, I love this concept.
Is this what we should expect to see over the next couple of years? I have no idea. But I would be ecstatic to see some more innovative designs and concepts come down the pipeline. It'd be nice to see some manufacturers deviate from the worn out path and try something new for a change. Would you like a phone like this? Is it too much? Who would you like to see this phone made by?