I came to a startling realization the other day. I don’t know how it happened or why it manifested itself in me in this way, but the truth is really undeniable. I feel no shame nor guilt in feeling this way and I don’t care if you want to judge me. I feel the way I want to feel. I don’t know if it’s a product of nature or nurture, but I have accepted this part of me for what it is. My name is Adam Doud, and I love crazy phones.
The Legend of the Blue Taco
I think it started long ago when I fell in love with a blue taco. I know what you’re thinking – a blue taco can’t possibly be good any more. It probably got left in the fridge too long or something. Just move on. But I’m afraid I couldn’t move on. I was enamored. This phone was so ridiculous it just had to work. The Nokia 3300 was my first venture away from the “norm” which at the time was flip phones and bricks. But it didn’t end there.
I’m not going to go through my litany of silly looking devices. I’ve had phones of all different shapes, sizes, and colors, and I ain’t gonna apologize for any of them. But the two that have come across my desk recently are getting pretty close to the fringes, which is where I like to hang.
Zoom, zoom, zoom
The first is a Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom. That’s right, it’s the phone with a camera super glued to it. I got it so I could take photos with it because due to a recent boating accident, I no longer had a normal camera. So now I have this. Is it the best camera money could buy? No, absolutely not. But it’s one of the only cameras that can play Clash of Clans, so there. I plan to use this as a daily driver at some point in the near future, just because it’s so ridiculous I need to.
The second phone is an Alcatel OneTouch Pop Mega, which is a midrange 6” behemoth that looks like every other 6” behemoth out there. The difference is this phone comes with a tiny little “buddy phone” which connects via Bluetooth. You can use this buddy phone to make and receive calls and texts, plus some additional functionality like a camera remote control, etc. There will be a much more in-depth analysis of this phone in a future piece.
Boundaries are for suckers
But the underlying theme here is that these phones are breaking the boundaries of what society has said smartphones should be. Samsung is notorious for making and releasing phone after phone that pushes those boundaries further and further. Whether or not those boundaries should be broken is another conversation, but that’s not important right now. What is important is that as much guff as I give Samsung for releasing three more phones in the time it’ll take you to read this, I respect it for trying.
Form factor is such an important detail in smartphones today. That form factor is the slab. How it got to be that way, I don’t know. But the slab is actually a very accurate way of defining that form factor. The word itself “slab” just sounds boring. And so are slab phones. Don’t get me wrong, what’s under the hood is very important, but for the most part in the most general sense, your slab phone is going to look like every other slab phone to the average person. Sure readers of sites like these will be able to tell what phone you’re using by looking at the camera viewfinder, but to the everyday person, it’s all the same.
If at first you don’t succeed
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I love that some companies – Alcatel, Samsung and others – are trying. They’re giving us something to talk about instead of the latest piece of blacktop to come out from under the steamroller. I for one love to support companies that are bold enough to do that.
It won’t always be a form factor thing, even Nokia colorful phones are outside the box, and I love my yellow Lumia 920. Maybe it’s just my personality, but I want to give credit where it’s due. Any product design team could walk into a boardroom, draw a square on a whiteboard and say, “This will work.” But it takes outliers to really kick start innovation, and that’s what this industry needs. Once upon a time, a slab phone was an outlier too. Back in the day of slabs, slide out keyboards and Blackberrys were the cream of the crop. Someone tried something and it took off.
Is a camera superglued to the back of a phone a great idea? Probably not. Is shipping a Verne Troyer Bluetooth phone along with an Andre the Giant phone the answer to all of our problems? Well, you’ll have to wait for that article to see. But I love that they exist, and maybe that’s enough.
Alcatel Image Source: Android Central