A small Chinese startup will ship out 100,000 bendable smartphones this year, reports Bloomberg, and its taking flexible screens to the next level by creating a smartphone-smartwatch hybrid.
The upcoming, categorically challenged devices are made by the Moxi Group, also known as the Chongqing Graphene Tech Co., and will cost $765. The display technology behind the phones is limiting to say the least: It’s only in black and white and probably won’t be able to play video. It does, however, turn the smartphone into a wearable.
Talk around bendable screens has been circulating for years. Both Samsung and Apple have patents for bendable display technology. And the very awesome Fluid wraparound phone design was commissioned by Philips way back in 2012. But one of the biggest barriers to making a phone as wearable as a slap bracelet is that, no matter how flexible a screen is, batteries and hardware can’t bend (although a new flexible battery might solve half of that problem). Moxi’s fairly bulky wrist-worn phone is designed with the stiff hardware on the ends of the device, and the ends can then be connected around the users wrist.
The move from phone to wearables won’t happen anytime soon, though. Moxi’s phone is more of an expensive novelty than anything else, because who would want a black-and-white touchscreen phone? And future color options are only maybe coming in the future.
“The color model power usage is also much higher than that of the black and white unit,” Chongsheng Yu, Moxi Group’s executive vice president, told Bloomberg. “We’ll sell in China and if there’s a demand overseas, we’ll look into it.”
Yu told Bloomberg that the phone uses the same e-ink that the Kindle uses, but better. No matter how good that e-ink is, though, it wont offer the resolution or be able to do anything close to what people expect out of their smartphones.
Moxi debuted a color prototype in April.
Wearables are all the rage these days, whether it’s sweat-reading headbands or shoulder-mounted cameras to help blind people get around. Yet smartwatches are hardly the wearable super machines commercials make them out to be. Smartphones, on the other hand, have become a necessary part of life.
What would really kick off a rush to buy smartwatches would be if they could actually replace our phones. Hence, Moxi might be showing people a glimpse into the future of both wearables and phones.
The Moxi phone isn’t the future, but it could be a hint at what might come.