Ahem. Flip phones are not dead. Or at least, that’s what Gionee will have you believe. They have just announced the W909, and it’s shaped like a clam shell.
Really. This lends new dimensions to the word, gimmicky.
Get this. They have slapped two 4.2-inch, 720p displays on either side of the phone; front and back. There’s also a 16-megapixel camera just above the fingerprint sensor at the back of the device, with the 5MP front camera sitting above the interior display. Basically, you have to open up the phone and show the world how poor your taste in phones is, every time you want to take a selfie.
Now, does anybody want to guess how much they’ve decided to charge for this Rose Gold (or pink, depending on how you look at it) clam shell? 4000 Yuan. That’s around $615 at today’s exchange rates.
Gionee is not a lone culprit though. Samsung made a similar android flip phone with 2 screens last year, and called it the W2016. How creative. A South-African ODM called AG Mobile put a curve at the bottom end of the front face of one of their phones, in an attempt to differentiate it. Blackberry made a phone with a physical keyboard that slides out, in 2015.
What do all these have in common? They bring to light just how difficult it is to stand out from everyone else, since the entire smartphone space got…iPhone-erized. Don’t believe me? Here’s a picture of what smartphones looked like before and after iPhone.
On one hand, consumers really can’t tell the difference between most phones at first glance, and on the other hand, any attempt to deviate from the familiar form factor will be met with vicious resistance. This is why I laugh when people tell me Apple does not innovate. I mean, what has everyone else been copying all this while?
The market is crowded by many players, doing exactly what everyone else is doing and fighting to see who can make the best phone at the cheapest price. This is why I think the smartphone space is a never-ending race to the bottom.
Still, this is no excuse for Gionee. 2003 called, and it wants its design back.