The past few years have brought amazing innovation to mobile phone design, with the iPhone leading the way and competitors introducing new features in an attempt to dethrone it. This concept video from China introduces the Line Phone, a remarkable and slick-looking phone with some very awesome features. However, much like the concept cars that are unveiled every few months, there’s no plan for this phone to enter production anytime soon. Heck, the video itself is just a render of what the phone could be like rather than a prototype in action.
Real or not, this phone is still worth plenty of “ooh”s and “ahh”s. Starting off with traditional Chinese music and a calligraphy theme, once the phone is introduced we get shiny blue light and explosions. Pretty cheesy, yes, but that’s quickly forgotten. The wafer-thin phone is shown with a strangely elongated design, looking to perhaps be about 3:1. Split vertically down the middle by an on-screen line, the main menu has a scroll bar on the right which can be manipulated by touch. Turn it sideways and open up your music app and you get to browse your albums and songs. Sliding your finger along the edges lets you edit volume, fast forward, and even do some DJ scratchwork.
The part I find most interesting is the use of gestures, much like the mouse gestures found in Opera or as an add-on for Firefox. Type up a text message and then slide your finger vertically to send it off. When reading a new message, you can do a sort of checkmark gesture to bring up the reply screen. A gesture along the outer edges of the phone will even let you re-edit the message you sent. The Internet browser looks painful, although their example of Facebook browsing seems to work. The size and dimensions of the screen seem as if they’d make any realistic web surfing awkward at best. Picture browsing and photography are shown next, with typical zoom and edit features, although again using the edges of the phone to do these tasks.
The last section is where things get a bit too unrealistic, in my opinion. To share between phones, you just let the edges touch. Then you can drag-and-drop between phone screens to exchange files. Connect three phones together and you can enter ‘PC mode’, running Photoshop as one example with the larger screen created by three contiguous phones. The most laughable concept, however, is the video gaming one. By linking five phones together, you end up with a wide screen, which is unreasonable enough on its own. But wait! A sixth phone can be used as a motion controller, as shown with a racing game playing on the five-phone screen with the sixth as a steering wheel. Unless these phones would only cost $20, which I highly doubt, I can’t imagine any game developers wanting to produce for something so gimmicky and expensive. With the three main gaming consoles out there all featuring some form of motion control, and the popularity of the Nintendo DS and PSP for portable gaming, something tells me that this phone (or, rather, this half dozen phones) isn’t going to be the gaming hub of the future.
This is still a fantastic concept video to watch, and it would be nice to see something like this actually produced. If nothing else, it would be nice to see other companies integrate some of the ideas into their own mobile phones. For more fun phones, check out this Flip Phone Concept or the Blackberry Empathy Concept.