IT’S a new twist for mobile communication — bendable smartphones!
Moxi Group, a little-known Chinese start-up company, aims to roll out 100,000 of the devices in its home country at $1064 a pop.
The malleable phones will also serve as a fashion statement as they are meant to be rolled into a bracelet and worn on the wrist, though their touchscreens will only feature a black-and-white display for now.
“Black and white phones are much easier to make,” Moxi executive vice president Chongsheng Yu told Bloomberg. “The colour model power usage is also much higher than that of the black and white unit. We’ll sell in China and if there’s demand overseas, we’ll look into it.”
The springy screens are based on “graphene” technology, in which carbon atoms are lined in a specific pattern to make them more conductive and resilient.
The Chongqing-based company crammed the battery, processor and other parts into one end of the gadget, enabling the display to almost bend into a full circle.
But a major question is how good the screen will be, tech experts said.
“If they’re using flexible e-ink then it’s a real loser,” said Roel Vertegaal, director of the Human Media Lab at Queen’s University in Canada, which used the technology to produce a prototype five years ago.
“It was the only flexible technology we could get, but the colours are poor, the contrasts are poor and you can’t play videos on it,” he added.
Mr Yu said the bendable phone was indeed based on e-ink — which Amazon uses in its Kindle devices — but is an improvement because it uses a better touchscreen system.
Moxi, whose corporate name is Chongqing Graphene Tech Co, hopes there will be a demand for the devices to help boost sales as the market takes a downturn.
Smartphone sales in the $423 billion industry fell for the first time ever in the first three months of the year, according to Strategy Analytics.
Moxi aims to upstage Samsung Electronics, the hi-tech behemoth that has begun tinkering with flexible-screen technology. It is unclear yet if the phones will be available in the United States.
“If you make a working, bendable phone then it’s a massive market,” said Aravind Vijayaraghavan, a graphene researcher at Manchester University. “If they’re going to release it commercially this year I’d be thoroughly impressed. If you have a low-resolution black and white screen that is not terribly reliable, then that’s not a commercial prospect.”