5 Android phones that dare to be different from Candybar Block

5 Android phones that dare to be different from Candybar Block

Before you start humming the well-known 50 Cent song featuring a Candy and go off on an entirely different tangent, let me play the spoilsport and bring you back. We are alluding to the form factor of most of the Android smartphones today. The candybar design has become a bit of a default go-to design for most Android phones today. The race has been to try and to make the slimmest, lightest and the best-looking candy bar smartphone. There have been experiments with materials, using glass, polycarbonate, metal, perhaps even composites being used in some combinations. Yet, the innovation on the hardware front on Android phones has been very limited. We have recently seen LG up the game with two sweet products in the form of the LG V10 and LG G5, and that is what got us thinking about players other than LG who dared stand, even if they failed?

A part of the reason for the failure has been the success enjoyed by the iPhone. Most manufacturers just seem to be happy playing an improviser on Apple’s game. The idea is whatever Apple does, which inevitably works thanks to the perfect marketing and product design balance, do it a little better. What happened to the famous ‘jump the curves’ theory that every VC vomits out in his keynote? History has it that most of the trends in the mobile world today have been set by Apple. Apple made it fashionable to have a Dual LED tone flash, ugly antenna lines, fingerprint scanner, a home screen button and the list goes on. And most Android phones in one way or the other followed the lead. Yet, there were a few who dared to be different. Maybe it was a case of being different for the sake of it, but at least, there was an attempt, and today, we want to give them the limelight that they deserve, even if it was just for trying to stand out from the traditional block design with a camera at the back.

Sadly, not a lot of these phones caught up well nor did their trend either, because Apple did not bring it mainstream, or they were not marketed properly, or just simply were not implemented as well as they should have. But it was a step and a step must be recognised. So here is our pick of five Android phones, recently launched that dared to be different.

BlackBerry Priv

BlackBerry is an insignificant player when it comes to Android, maybe it’s an insignificant player altogether, but the Priv is perhaps one of the most daring devices out there. The recently launched BlackBerry flagship dares to bring back a tradition that long died in Android phones, that of a physical keyboard.

BlackBerry Priv

BlackBerry Priv is the latest Android smartphone with a physical keyboard

I can barely think of any Android phone post the Desire Z or the Motorola Droid, which came with a keyboard despite us using our modern smartphones pretty much like a computer today. We have all written long emails on our phones and not one OEM came up with an attached keyboard. We did see an attractive accessory in the form of Typo, but nothing beyond. I would love to see more OEMs attempt to bring a keyboard, yes the phone may no longer be the slimmest one to walk the ramp, but imagine the enhancement to the productivity?

HTC One M8

The HTC One M8 was a gorgeous device; it was perhaps the best built Android phone ever. Yet, beyond its physical beauty and brushed metal design, what set the phone apart was its Dual Camera setup. Here, one camera was used as a depth sensor while the primary camera took photos.

HTC One M8

HTC One M8 sports Dual Camera setup to enhance image results

It was an interesting concept to make your photos look a little fancier by allowing you to selectively focus post shooting. While the idea was good, it was a bit of a gimmick and never really pushed on because HTC failed to show it to people its real powers. It is now rumoured that the iPhone 7 would come with a Dual lens setup, if that does happen, watch how much of a trend would that simply become.

Samsung Galaxy Beam

You remember this one? Highly doubt it, because we, ourselves had to really go back and cross check the name. But, Samsung had announced the Galaxy Beam, which came with an inbuilt projector back in 2012. Nobody followed up with the technology until Lenovo recently announced the Yoga Tablet Pro.

Samsung Galaxy Beam

Samsung Galaxy Beam came with a projector on the top

Having a projector on the phone is quite a fascinating concept especially given the amount of digital content our phones hold today. Want to share an album with family or show a video clip? Just project it. With mobile to TV connectivity, still very much an issue and Smart TVs well beyond the budget of a middle-class man, having a projector on the smartphone could be interesting. Samsung did not really push the phone, and a potentially interesting feature died in the foetus.

YotaPhone

The Yotaphone basically combined your Kindle reader and your Android phone. The phone had a Dual screen display, with a standard capacitive display on the front and an always on, e-ink display on the back.

YotaPhone

YotaPhone offered two worlds in one, with a standard display on the front and an e-ink display on the back

Since e-ink is a battery-friendly technology, you could just switch to the back of your phone for intensive reading and turn back to your primary display if you wanted to interact with the apps or do your regular stuff like watching multimedia. The implementation was not the best as the phone was uncomfortable to hold on to and you ended up smudging the display. Imagine if the trend would have caught up and the e-ink display could be on the backside with a keyboard closing the screens, like the old Navigator? That’s a win there.

Sharp AQUOS Crystal

The Sharp AQUOS Crystal was never really a commercial device. In fact, it was not even rolled out in markets like India, but from distance, the device looks super impressive. The Crystal comes with a perfect edge to edge display with no top bezel. There is not even a cutout for the earpiece.

Sharp Aquos Crystal

Sharp AQUOS Crystal featured a bezel-less design

You have a microphone slot at the bottom to transmit the voice but that is that. You hear when you take a call, as the phone senses your ear and then transmits sounds in the form of vibrations. The phone dared to do away with a component that nobody thought you could do without. Obviously, the phone was not a commercial success and suffered from issues regarding implementation, yet the effort was commendable.

You may have noticed that other than perhaps the HTC M8, none of the above devices were the commercial success. With the LG G5 daring to be the first ever semi-modular phone, the ride is bound to be bumpy especially as the phone is so heavily dependent upon the ecosystem of accessories. However, it is these experiments which one day will bring us to the next curve, and we will look back upon the likes of those mentioned above as being the first ones to thrust us in the direction of future success.

The author is managing the digital marketing efforts at price comparison website Pricebaba.com.

Categories: Analysis