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How form joined function in smartphone design

Form is now every bit as important as function, and the two need to complement one another to ensure an even better smartphone experience, writes AKHRAM MOHAMED, Marketing Director, Huawei Consumer Business Group South Africa.

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When cellphones first entered the market in the 1980s, it was obvious that form had been sacrificed on the altar of function. There was nothing remotely aesthetically appealing about the good old ‘brick’, from its bulky body, to its scrawny pull-out aerial, to its bland black hue.  Luckily, the brick is long gone and has been pushed aside for sleek, colourful devices. Form is now every bit as important as function, and the two need to complement one another to ensure an even better smartphone experience.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

The journey of cellphone design enhancement has been a long one. The very first mainstream mobile phones were rather nondescript – black, formless, and cumbersome. In those early days, cellphones were primarily used as business tools and were exorbitantly expensive. Because it was a new technology, design was not the primary consideration for mobile phones; in fact, it wasn’t considered at all.

However, as cellphones became more mainstream in the early 2000s, and the consumer audience for this product grew, aesthetic appeal became far more important. Brands jostled one another for their share of the mobile phone pie, in an effort to secure and maintain their place on the winners’ podium.  One of their battle grounds was design. In the early days of the smartphone era, phone design was far less uniform, and each brand devised their own unique ‘look’. Users were also able to customise their phones to reflect their personality – phone colour, size, and shape variants all communicated something about the person who was holding the device. Consumers also expressed themselves through their choice of funky phone covers, colourful wallpapers, and distinctive ringtones.

Smart, beautiful, or both?

One of the smartphone designs that really caught the eye of design lovers all around the world was the Motorola RAZR. It was slim, sleek, and beautiful. This slender flip phone came in a range of striking colours and slipped easily into your pocket. Even its thin buttons were elegant. Unfortunately, it didn’t rate very highly in terms of technological advancement, but nevertheless became one of the top best-selling mobile phones of all time. This emphasised that users were demanding more of their cellphone aesthetics than ever before. Phones could be objects of beauty, and not just utility.

When the smartphone era really began to take off around 2007/2008, phones became ‘smart’ not only in their functionality but in their design too. Gone were the clunky keys of their predecessors; instead, they were replaced by ‘invisible’ keyboards, which only came to life when the user summoned them. As a result, their screens were larger, which not only made the phones easier to use but also highlighted a shift towards valuing the visual. The shape and size of the phones got even sleeker as technology progressed.

However, this technological advancement also brought with it uniform design, and these days it can be difficult to find something in a phone’s aesthetics that can uniquely distinguish it from its competitors. In contrast to most phone manufacturers, however, Huawei has increasingly delivered more in terms of device design. This is especially evident in our new Huawei P20 series, which is an exquisite combination of art and technology for the fashion forward. The aesthetics of these devices are striking, especially when it comes to colour, as they exhibit vivid and gradual changes in hue, rather than solid, motionless colour. This unique effect is caused by light refracting off the surface of the phone, and can be found in all of the colours in our range – Twilight, Midnight Blue, and Black. Another aspect of our Huawei P20 series that adds to the design experience is its FullView Display, which blends seamlessly with the phone’s rounded edges. This allows for an exquisite visual experience when viewing media on the device, or even just using an app.

It’s clear, then, that mobile phone design has come a long way since the era of the bulky, black brick. This design evolution is a promise of appealing aesthetics on the horizon, and it will be exciting to see where the next step in the journey takes us.

  • Akhram Mohamed, Marketing Director, Huawei Consumer Business Group South Africa

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Welcome to world of 2099

The world of 2099 will be unrecognisable from the world of today, but it can be predicted, says one visionary. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK met him in Singapore.

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Futuristic structures tower over the landscape. Giant, alien-looking trees light up with dazzling colours amid the hundreds of plant species that grow up their trunks. Cosmetic stores sell their wares via public touch-screens, with products delivered instantly in drawers below the screens.

This is not a vision of the future. It is a sample of Singapore today. But it is also an inkling of the world we may all experience in the future.

Singapore was the venue, last week, of the World Cities Summit, where engineers, politicians, investors and visionaries rubbed shoulders as they talked about the strategies and policies that would enhance urban living in the future.

As part of the Summit, global payment technologies leader Mastercard hosted a small media briefing by one of Singapore’s leading thinkers about the future, Dr Damian Tan, managing director of Vickers Venture Partners. The company’s slogan “We invest in the extraordinary,” offers a small clue to Tan’s perspective.

“We look as far forward as 2099 because, as a venture capital firm, we invest in the long term,” he tells a group of journalists from Africa and the Middle East. “Companies explode in growth because there is value in the future. If there is no growth, they won’t explode.”

The big question that the Smart Cities Summit and Mastercard are trying to help answer is, what will cities look like in the year 2099? Tan can’t give an exact answer, but he offers a framework that helps one approach the question.

“If you want to look at 81 years into the future, and understand the change that will come, you need to double that amount and look into the past. That takes us to 1856. The difference between then and now is the difference you can expect between now and 2099.”

Click here or on the page link below to read on: Page 2: Soldiers and Health in 2099.

  •    Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube

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Street art goes electric

Kaspersky Lab and British street artist D*Face have unveiled the first-ever “art helmet” design at the Formula E finale for electric cars in New York.

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The ‘Save The World’ helmets will be raced by DS Virgin Racing’s drivers, Sam Bird and Alex Lynn, as they traverse the New York street circuit during the final races of the Formula E season.

The announcement signals the first art helmet by a Formula E team, continuing the heritage of art in motorsport and the cybersecurity brand’s commitment to contemporary art, creativity and innovation. D*Face took inspiration from Kaspersky Lab’s tagline, “A Company To Save The World”, and hopes that his colourful work will inspire people to take positive action.

D*Face will announce his first-ever art car design with a custom-made livery for the DS Virgin Racing Team. Its design will be released at the “Art Goes Green” event after Saturday’s race. The helmets and art car are the latest installations in the “Save the World” collection, following a major permanent public mural that was installed in Brooklyn, New York, in May.

D*Face, whose real name is Dean Stockton, said: “It is exciting to work with Kaspersky Lab on this project and create art with a real message of hope for a better future. After all, this is our world and we need to look after it. It will take every one of us to make a real lasting, impactful change. I love the mentality of the DS Virgin Racing Team and that of Formula E by showcasing sport in a way that doesn’t harm the environment, but is still just as exhilarating and fun.

“It is time for us all to stand together and make a change… be that stopping data steals, climate change, plastic waste or using damaging fuels. I want everyone to make a pledge to do one thing that will help make a change.”

As a sponsor of DS Virgin Racing Team, Kaspersky Lab is responsible for protecting the team’s devices against cyber threats. The company sees the technical environment in the global sport of Formula E as the next frontier in furthering its research and development of new technologies to keep vehicles secure in the digital world.

Sylvain Filippi, Managing Director at DS Virgin Racing, said: “The whole team fully supports this great initiative and our thanks got to Kaspersky and D*Face for their collaboration. It’s an honour to have such an innovative artist bring his talents to bear in our team ahead of the season-finale; the car, drivers’ crash helmets and mural all look amazing.”

Aldo Fucelli Pessot del Bo, Head of Global Partnerships and Sponsorships at Kaspersky Lab added: “There is a need for innovation on a global scale, both in contemporary art and in the fast-growing sport of Formula E. Now, for the first time ever, Kaspersky Lab is proudly bringing together the two sectors in an effort to Save the World and unleash creativity, encourage freedom of expression and further innovation.”

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