The phone of the future has no charging port (or any other openings)

The phone of the future has no charging port (or any other openings)
It's like the Monolith from 2001, only glossier and with rounded edges. It also has HAL 9000 a helpful AI assistant built-in

With a steady pace, the industry is moving toward the perfect smartphone. Or at least, what would be considered perfect in the short term. After years and years of bezels, chins, and foreheads, in 2017 the industry started transitioning to nearly all-screen designs with the wider adoption of various types of "notches." This was hardly a perfect solution, however, with many unwilling to accept the notch even as a stopgap on the way to the true bezel-less device. So, here we are now, less than two years later, with 'hole punch' displays on our hands – the next big step that will bring us closer to the design peak of the rigid form factor.

But why get excited by holes, when Meizu is about to launch a... holeless phone. Okay, that sounds weird now that I've written it, but really, that's what the company is teasing – a holeless phone. But putting this rather uncouth attempt at a marketing buzzword aside, the premise of Meizu's project is actually very interesting and goes far beyond the camera display hole.

What Meizu is teasing a device that has no openings on it – no charging port, no headphone jack, no speaker grills, no creases or hard edges. Just a smooth, uniform surface all around. Vivo is also working on a similar device (likely the Apex 2019) that the company has already teased in a short video (shown below). It does look quite sleek with its uninterrupted curves and glossy finish, or as prolific Twitter leaker @UniverseIce aptly puts it, "it's like a metal soap."


Vivo Apex 2019 – "It's like a metal soap"

All jokes aside, this design has its merits. Although many people would be against the idea of removing any more ports from the smartphone — the 3.5mm headphone jack is still a hot topic for some, thought its remaining days in the smartphone world are numbered — but making a phone with zero "holes" could offer some benefits. For one, it could allow for even better dust- and waterproofing, which would make it more resistant against the elements.

On the other hand, you won't be able to use the phone while it's charging wirelessly, unless, of course, Vivo does the sensible thing and provides a slim wireless charger that snaps magnetically onto the phone's back so you can still hold it and use it while the battery is juicing. Another downside would be the worsened repairability of such a device. With this design, if something happens, your only hope would be warranty.

Reaching the peak of smartphone design



Meizu just teased us with this image. Brightening the image reveals a hidden message in the black bar – "holeless phone"

Making a bezel-less phone without a screen camera punch-hole is easy. Just look at Xiaomi and Honor who've both done it with the Mi Mix 3 and the Honor Magic 2, respectively. Just make the screen slide down and voila – no camera hole. However, this design is not compatible with Meizu's and Vivo's concept, which is for a phone that has no openings or moving parts whatsoever. So, what would be the solution then? The answer is, a real in-display camera.

When Samsung last year announced a new round of "Infinity" displays for mobile devices, one of them sparked a lot of interest online. Three of the displays were notched or had an opening for the camera – the Infinity-U, Infinity-V, and Infinity-O is what Samsung calls them. But during the announcement, a fourth model — dubbed "New Infinity" — was shown that seemingly had neither a notch, nor a punch-hole. Unfortunately, the company didn't provide any details about it on stage.

However, this was enough for the "New Infinity" display to spark discussions about the future of smartphone design. We even took an extensive look at the tech that would make under-display cameras possible, which may be similar to what Meizu and Vivo are using for their "holeless" phones.

The future unfolds



Concept design for a Samsung foldable phone by LetsGoDigital

Achieving a true bezel-less design would be the peak for the current phone form factor, but where do we go from there? Well, according to Samsung, the next step would be to change the form factor itself – to transition from rigid to foldable devices.

Since 2011, Samsung has been working on flexible displays, and over the years its flexible phone prototype has become a bit of a joke online. After being teased for years on end, short glimpses of the phone at various trade shows highlighted unfortunate technical shortcomings. However, after close to eight years in development, Samsung now deems the technology ready (or almost ready) for prime time and is reportedly preparing to launch a flexible phone this year.

What's more, the company seems certain that the future of smartphones is foldable. In a recent editorial, Senior Vice President and Head of the Visual R&D Team at Samsung's mobile division Hark-sang Kim revealed his firm belief in the foldable form factor:

"We expect to see a sea change in the smartphone form factor in the coming years. From rollable and stretchable devices to the devices that can fold in multiple ways are no longer beyond the realms of reality. Samsung is ready to usher in this future and create meaningful experiences for consumers that help them do more of what they love."


Remember this crazy ad from 2013?

But whichever way the future actually unfolds, we are sure to encounter a lot of variety in the coming years. Asian companies are toying around with wildly innovative ideas, each trying to achieve its own vision of the perfect phone. We've already seen the notch problem mitigated by camera punch-holes, and though they're not even commonplace yet, companies are thinking of ways to get rid of them as well. As mentioned above, the "slider" design is making a comeback and it is currently the easiest way to make an all-screen phone, its many shortcomings aside. And then there's Vivo and Meizu who are working on "holeless" concept phones. 

2019 is bound to be a very interesting and eventful year for smartphones. The notch is likely going to make way for display punch-holes, more phones with in-display fingerprint sensors are coming out, Samsung is launching a flexible device, Chinese companies are continuing to experiment with crazy technologies. This, of course, is just a prelude to what is going to follow. With technology evolving at such a breakneck speed, imagine where we'd be a year from now.

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25 Comments

1. Dejan92

Posts: 141; Member since: Feb 06, 2014

Pointless

2. sun0066

Posts: 266; Member since: Feb 12, 2011

What is the harm to have holes ports , etc

24. Settings

Posts: 2943; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

No holes but no IP rating.

3. osterrich21

Posts: 186; Member since: Apr 14, 2017

The more "innovate", the worse it gets. Examples: rear glass, 3.5mm withdrawal, notch, all screen (only one drop the device breaks). The previous meizu had excellent design. And more ...

7. osterrich21

Posts: 186; Member since: Apr 14, 2017

And more expensives!

4. notfair

Posts: 719; Member since: Jan 30, 2017

apple will steal this and call it innovation, their love for dongles has no limits.

11. Elvis358

Posts: 219; Member since: Mar 25, 2018

Seriously this definitely must be the most "original" comment.

18. AViator

Posts: 47; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

He gets boner when bringing up apple. Smh

13. AngelicusMaximus

Posts: 669; Member since: Dec 20, 2017

What dongles can you use with a "holeless" phone?

5. I_have_boxes

Posts: 74; Member since: Jun 02, 2018

Seems impractical, but I still want to see what the end result is like.

6. osterrich21

Posts: 186; Member since: Apr 14, 2017

Hole in the screen reminds a fly on the screen, eternally ...

8. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Yeah, let's all switch to inefficient and slow wireless charging. I rather keep my port and the features it comes with.

9. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3100; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

Reminds me of this: https://imgur.com/gallery/iNyOb Old but gold

10. morgeus09

Posts: 104; Member since: Aug 19, 2018

Ummm... What happens if i have a 2000$ non-wireless speaker? What im gonna do with it? There is no port??

12. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3122; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

Buy a $3,000 wireless speaker. That's what the manufacturers want, for you to spend more and more money.

14. Vadermando

Posts: 24; Member since: Dec 19, 2011

you're already calling 'the benefits' of having a phone with no ports, there are NONE, you turd5

16. 7thlvl

Posts: 59; Member since: Dec 09, 2018

Only thing I can see this having an advantage is if they can make it ultra water proof like sea diving proof.

15. Raito

Posts: 79; Member since: Aug 15, 2014

When Sams**t use this design for their phone,everyone will be “it’s innovation!,Samsung ‘s great! Blah blah,and when another brand use this design for their phone,everyone will be “it’s pointless” Talk about Samsheeps on PA

17. master-mkk

Posts: 214; Member since: Aug 27, 2014

If true wireless charging can be achieved ( can charge from 5m+ ) then I'm ok with that charging ports take so much space which can be used for bigger battery

21. BuffaloSouce unregistered

Battery is only an issue if you're a tard who stays glued to their phone

19. monoke

Posts: 1157; Member since: Mar 14, 2015

It's more style over substance. I admire the concept but too many compromises need to be made. Sure u can get by without ports/buttons, but user habits would have to adjust quite a bit.

20. LEEDAQ

Posts: 173; Member since: Aug 07, 2018

Wasting time and money lol, only their staff will need to buy the junk

22. Techzalot

Posts: 19; Member since: Dec 19, 2018

The only thing holeless for me is gonna be my wallet because I am skipping that dumb idea. I need my headphone Jack to use my audiophile headphones that no bluetooth headphones can even remotely touch in fidelity and not having a charging point kills it for anyone playing pokemon go... and if I ever see a microphone hole in that device, that's already false advertisement.

25. Gavin_Moore

Posts: 1; Member since: Oct 09, 2018

Glad to know I'm not the only one who wants the 3.5mm jack to stay so I can listen to my audiophile headphones on my phone.

23. CreeDiddy

Posts: 2146; Member since: Nov 04, 2011

I love the concept. This could be the future. Turning up the volume is easy with a swipe up and down similar to AirPods on the left side. No need for a toggle switch as you flick the top left corner of the phone to do this. I don’t use my charging cable as wireless charging is available. The only necessity of holes are for the speakers. This can be imbedded within the casing for a smooth look and finish. This could be Apple’s future by 2022. Lol!

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