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Unique Mobile Phones - Ten of the Most Unusual Concept Phones

Updated on December 21, 2013

Although there is a huge variety of different things that you can do with your mobile phone, and many different types of user each with his or her own habits and preferences, for some reason most mobile phones today are almost identical to each other. Whether you buy an iPhone, one of the many Android phones or a Windows phone - most handsets look basically the same and most of the hardware is also very similar.

I think that this is a real shame, because there are many more possibilities that would make our mobile phones much more interesting and unique. I'm not the only one either - there are some excellent 'concept phone' designs out there produced by world class designers who are trying to re-envision the most ubiquitous, most versatile and most used piece of modern technology.- the smartphone.

Some of these designs are close to coming into production, meaning that we are likely to see something very similar on the high street before too long, whilst others are more fanciful. All of them, however, are radical, unique, surprising and interesting - I hope you agree and enjoy checking out the pictures!

The Modular Mobile Phone - Phonebloks and Ara

Probably the most exciting new mobile phone concept of 2013, and in my humble opinion the most likely to translate into a successful consumer product, is the idea of the modular phone handset.

The idea is actually very simple, although bringing it to life will undoubtedly involve some major engineering challenges. A modular product is one which can be built up out of a range of different 'modules'. This means that owners of a handset like this can easily swap out parts to upgrade a camera, replace a broken screen, and generally customize the handset to their hearts content.

Considering the fact that I currently own a Samsung Galaxy S4 with a broken screen, which I haven't yet found the money to get fixed (or the courage to try to fix it myself!) I for one love the idea of having a phone which would allow you to simply unclip the screen and then clip on a new one. Being able to customize a phone to your exact requirements also seems like a great idea to me. A range of different camera, speaker and sensor modules could be produced so that everyone could get the exact handset they want without having to pay for features they don't want or need. It also means that as technology progresses and improved hardware becomes available you don't need to buy a new phone - you can just switch over the relevant module to the latest module and keep everything else the same. This is both more economical and much more environmentally friendly.

I'm also a big fan of the open source and open hardware - which is when programming code and hardware designs are made freely available, and both tinkerers and other manufacturers are able to make their own alterations and develop their own modules. This concept is perfect for taking advantage of the opportunities the open source and open hardware movement presents, and it looks like Motorola is going to do just that.

The modular mobile phone concept took off this year when the Dutch designer Dave Hakkens posted a video of his 'Phonebloks' concept (see below) on YouTube. Hakkens' idea soon went viral, and the video itself has had over 18 million views in just a few months.

All of this attention drew the interest of some big players, and within a few weeks Hakkens had struck a deal with the Google owned mobile handset manufacturer Motorola to work with them on their own 'hackable' and modular design known as 'Project Ara'.

Phonebloks

Sneak Peaks at Motorola's Project Ara

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Projected Displays and Wearable Technology

I've seen a few concepts recently which combine compact wearable technology with a projected screen or keyboard to turn anything into a touchscreen. One of the most interesting and unusual examples is the 'finger touching' concept by Sunman Kwon.

Finger Touching

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Scroll Out OLED Displays

Another popular idea is to use super thin OLED displays which are hidden within the main handset until you pull them out. There are a few different design concepts which use this idea, and there is actually quite a lot of variety amongst them. Two of my own personal favourites are the LG Flutter, and the Chinese scroll phone which you can see in the pictures below.

Chinese Scroll Phone

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LG Flutter

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The Grass Phone

If you like to be environmentally responsible then his eco-friendly grass phone may appeal to you. It is actually made from compressed grass and is designed to naturally come apart after its 2 year life span and to be totally bio-degradable.
If you like to be environmentally responsible then his eco-friendly grass phone may appeal to you. It is actually made from compressed grass and is designed to naturally come apart after its 2 year life span and to be totally bio-degradable. | Source

The RollPhone

The Roll Phone also uses a pull out OLED display, but its unique feature is the fact that it is powered by a regular AA battery.
The Roll Phone also uses a pull out OLED display, but its unique feature is the fact that it is powered by a regular AA battery. | Source

Flexible Phones

One of the most popular themes for new concept phones these days is the flexible handset. Some big name manufacturers have jumped on board for this bandwagon and there is every chance that at least one or two of these will make it into production. One of my personal favourites is the Philips Fluid, which clips together so that you can wear it like a bracelet when its not in use. This seems to give the advantages of a smartwatch, but means that you can still unroll it to have a regular sized phone without having to carry another handset around with you in your pocket. In the summer months, when I'm not wearing a jacket, my pocket space is always limited, so having a phone with a reasonable sized screen which doesn't take up valuable pocket space is a great idea in my book.

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Brix

The Brix concept has a completely different take on the idea of 'modularity'. It has a 'full-face' screen and multiple handsets can be clipped together to produce a large screen.
The Brix concept has a completely different take on the idea of 'modularity'. It has a 'full-face' screen and multiple handsets can be clipped together to produce a large screen. | Source

The Soft Phone

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The Soft Phone is definitely one of the most unique concepts I've seen, utilizing entirely different materials to produce a flexible and compact handset.
The Soft Phone is definitely one of the most unique concepts I've seen, utilizing entirely different materials to produce a flexible and compact handset.
The Soft Phone is definitely one of the most unique concepts I've seen, utilizing entirely different materials to produce a flexible and compact handset. | Source

Cheers

Combining environmentally friendly alcohol fuel cell technology with a humorous design which looks like a hip flask, the 'Cheers Phone' by Tryi Yeh is more than deserving of a place on my top ten list.
Combining environmentally friendly alcohol fuel cell technology with a humorous design which looks like a hip flask, the 'Cheers Phone' by Tryi Yeh is more than deserving of a place on my top ten list. | Source

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    • josters profile image

      Janik D 3 years ago from Dresden, Germany

      That was awesome, really great Hub which I enjoyed reading. A very interesting topic and I really liked the way you presented it. Voted up.

    • electronician profile image
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      Dean Walsh 3 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Thanks josters, I'm glad you enjoyed it and I appreciate the comment and the up vote!

    • susi10 profile image

      Susan W 3 years ago from The British Isles, Europe

      Cool hub, electronician! I always wondered what the future of mobile technology would be, what's next but your hub has answered it for me. These phones are so futuristic, my favourite one is the Philips Fluid, it is almost as thin as a piece of paper and yet it is a touchable screen, amazing. Thanks for this hub, voted up and shared.

    • electronician profile image
      Author

      Dean Walsh 3 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Yep, the Philips Fluid is definitely very nice Susi10 - that's my second favourite after the Project Ara handset.

    • KDeus profile image

      Keely Deuschle 3 years ago from Florida

      I've very much enjoyed reading this hub! Wow! These are all pretty awesome! It's great to get a glimpse into the future of phones! Voted up and shared!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      I really like the idea of the modular pieces, as different portions break or get outdated at different rates. Some of the ideas are hust so out there I can't ever imagine myself using them, but them again decades ago we were all on landlines and 20 foot cords were the luxury. Great technology hub. Voted up +++ and pinning, sharing.

    • electronician profile image
      Author

      Dean Walsh 3 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Thanks for stopping by Flourish. I remember when they first started selling cordless landline phones which you could carry into a differrent room - and that seemed really high-tech!

    • electronician profile image
      Author

      Dean Walsh 3 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Thanks KDeus, I really appreciate it!

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