If you've long dreamed of a day when Nintendo brought out its very own gaming-focused smartphone, then a new concept created by German design firm CURVED/labs may seem torturous. With a 4.5-inch display, 64 GB of on-board storage and running on Google's Android, the 'WiiPhone' isn't particularly striking at first glance. But when the control pad elements slide out from within the housing, a GameBoy-esque control pad is revealed, and naturally, the concept also imagines that classics like Mario Kart are ready to roll from the get go.
Nintendo has, over the past few years, been reluctant to align with the times as far as mobile gaming is concerned. Pitting its faith in the numerous adaptations of the DS, iOS and Android users have continued to pine for the likes of Mario Kart, Zelda, and the innumerate other favorites of yesteryear. The company does appear to be succumbing, with the first Nintendo smartphone game slated for arrival before the year's end, but even this apparent change of heart belies the more familiar motive of plugging the upcoming Nintendo NX handheld.
Added the fact that no ports of older titles will be headed to smartphones or tablets, and suddenly, Nintendo's touted move into the Modern Mobile Era seems very underwhelming. Not to be disheartened, though, CURVED/labs has delivered a concept that, while clearly borrowing from the GameBoy and DS blueprint, is also aptly designed for its WiiPhone moniker.
As you'll see from the video below, the physical controls are tucked away through a sliding design, which is sure to cause division among seasoned gamers. Taking some obvious cues from the old Xperia gaming phones that Sony used to churn out, the form factor does seem a bit dated at a time when almost every handset consists of a large touchscreen and a few assorted hardware buttons around the edge. The fact that the WiiPhone does offer proper buttons will surely be celebrated by the hardcore gaming fans, though, many of whom still find the touch-based environment to be limiting.
Specs-wise, the WiiPhone offers a 4.5-inch GorillaGlass display, 4G LTE, NFC and GPS. As shown within the clip, there's a retro button layout option as well as a more contemporary, Wii-esque configuration, although anybody old enough to remember the original GameBoy will surely opt for the former.
Along with wireless charging, there's an 8-megapixel rear camera with dual-LED flash, a 5-megapixel front shooter for selfies, and fascinatingly, there's even a slot for the reading of standard Nintendo DS cartridges. As noted, Google's Android is the driving software force behind the WiiPhone, and as would surely be the case in the event that this device was brought to market, there's a custom Nintendo 'Wii' overlay to add the company's own UX.
Eventually, Nintendo could well grace us with a smartphone of its own. But this won't be happening any time soon, and speculative hope that the Nintendo NX might run on Android has also recently been crushed.
Looking at what CURVED/labs has created, would you buy such a device at the right price? Check out the video of the concept in all of its glory, and let us know of your thoughts in the comments.