Although the iPhone is currently the chic number-one in terms of mobile phone design, fashion moves very quickly in this market, meaning the next big thing is only just around the corner. But consider for a moment the more exciting prospect of a timeless piece of mobile phone design hitting the market; something ground-breaking but not over-styled, something unique and individual without becoming boring next week when everyone owns one. Who would make a phone like that?
Pagani is the Italian supercar manufacturer responsible for the Zonda, a masterpiece of car design costing hundreds of thousands of pounds, who should design a mobile phone worthy of accompanying their gorgeous car. The Zonda’s interior is almost perfect, swathes of hand-stitched leather caress the solid billet instrument binnacle and centre console, where several tactile switches reside, and the cabin should be imitated by their phone.
Imagine a phone with a carbon casing, solid aluminium front panel, a sculpted D-pad and the Zonda name engraved above the screen complete with tiny perforations for the hidden speaker. Imagine a matching delicate leather case, trimmed to match the leather in your Zonda and a ringtone of the Mercedes V12 engine itself. This is just a small idea of what could be possible if only Horacio Pagani and his team decided to add an exclusive mobile phone to their brand.
Maker of fine writing instruments since the late 1800’s, Cross are masters of understated design and beauty while incorporating perfect usability – characteristics which we also want to find in a mobile phone. Looking at their current range of pens, the Ion and Ion Metal make an interesting choice for evolution. These cigar shaped pens have a window which indicates the colour of the ink in the gel-refill currently fitted and a unique slide-up design to enable the pens use.
The Ion Metal is a beautiful chrome item and with the slider design already part of the product, could become a mobile while retaining a link to its ancestors. The visible gel-refills could be easily adapted to become personalisation items akin to Nokia’s Xpress-On covers, the ergonomic base-grip would aid stability while dialing plus that futuristic design would make it stand out from the crowd like nothing else available today.
Out of all the above choices, this could be the one that makes both the biggest impact and breaks the most new ground. Anyone familiar with Nike’s watch and sunglass range will have come across Phil Frank Design’s work as will any PlayStation players, thanks to their Nike ONE car design featured in Gran Turismo 4. These collaborations make them ideal to head up a Nike phone project, based squarely in future technology.
The phone could take an interesting turn if we take another future-based innovation that came about in dreaming up the revolutionary Nike ONE, that of the Spark Suit. Basically clothing that stores and produces energy from muscle movement, this would negate ever having to charge your phone again as it would only need to be on your person or connected to your clothing to get the power it would need. Add all manner of sports associated programs (pulse, heart rate, kcal’s burnt, steps taken etc) plus Phil Frank Design’s incredible visual talents and you have a mouth-watering prospect.
Never heard of them, right? Unless you are in the market for a bullet-proof car then it’s not surprising, but if you do need a little protection, then these guys are the ones to go too. So why would they make a phone? Well, they are in the business of protecting life and today, the mobile phone has been responsible for saving quite a few too, so who better to make the ultimate safety-conscious phone.
Rather than create something beautiful, CAV would make something tough and functional. How about a super-resilient, water-tight casing and a Kevlar pouch, crack-resistant touchscreen and GPS for starters? They could also incorporate a homing beacon for kidnap situations and a body-statistic reader, similar to this watch, which could alert emergency services should they drop below a certain level. It could even be used as a transponder key for starting a car or setting a house alarm. A CAV mobile phone should be akin to a bodyguard in your pocket.
Computer manufacturers are obvious mobile phone makers, having access to big brains and lots of technology, but aside from Apple, few care much about design – something that is very important in a mobile phone. Alienware however, make massively powerful PC’s and have some of the coolest looking cases ever seen, so imagine just how good an Alienware phone would be.
Their ‘Grey’ inspired company logo would make an excellent speaker atop a handset, with the eyes doubling as status indicators (green for connected, blue for Bluetooth activation and so on), and the display and keypad could be a cross between something found in David Cronenberg’s Existenz movie and H.R. Giger’s insane artwork. Alienware’s dedication to high-performance gaming could make this a real challenger to the much-rumoured Sony PSP Phone.
Although a modular mobile phone has been speculated about before, it seems that a step down from super hi-tech would be more LEGO’s style. Instead of having lots of modules available which could be built into a dream PDA, what about a back-to-basics approach? A sealed screen and keypad base kit would be standard, plus a range of specific LEGO Phone bricks, all compatible with regular LEGO too of course, allowing the customer to create their own phone.
Instead of being very practical (LEGO has a habit of coming apart, remember), this would bring a sense of fun back into the industry and would be great for kids – how much would they love taking their own, fully personalised, pay-as-you-go LEGO Phone to school – which could be taken apart and rebuilt once they got bored. Cynical marketing exercise or potential phenomenon? You decide!
So, forget the Prada’s and D&G’s and such like, the mobile phone world needs proper innovators and exciting designs to remain fresh. Who would you like to see market a phone?