When it comes to design, it’s inevitable that, along with some stellar results, there are gonna be some…not-so-stellar results. The mobile world is no exception to this rule. So we took a look into the history of and rounded up the strangest — and sometimes outright horrible — cell phone designs we could find. Some are just concepts that (thankfully) never saw the light of day; but others actually made it onto shelves.
Rivaling the size of a television remote control, this is by far the longest cell phone concept we’ve ever seen, reminiscent of that iPhone parody that surfaced about a year ago. The phone includes a retractable, flexible OLED screen intended to help users make the most of their mobile experience. To boot, the phone doesn’t need to be plugged in: the case lets the thing charge its battery just by sitting in the sun.
Remember those slap bracelets that were all the rage in the 90s? Well, they’re back … sorta. The tag phone is made of shape-memorizing rubber, along with a super flexible screen, so when your phone isn’t in use, you can just wrap it around your wrist. (At least you won’t have to worry about forgetting it in the backseat of a cab after a night on the town.)
The Finnish phone manufacturer has always been known for its simplistic phone designs. This is not one of those. Resembling a test tube more than an actual cell phone, the idea behind this was that, instead of finding an outlet to plug your phone into, all you need to do is pour in some soda and a chemical board converts it into energy. But uh, we’d be much happier carrying a compact portable charger than a six pack of soda.
Designed by Je-Hyun Kim, this “Natural Year” phone is any hippie’s dream come true. Resembling a brick of weed more than a cell phone, it’s not very likely the thing will ever see the light of day. While it may be good for the environment, it’s probably the least durable phone ever created. Never mind accidentally sitting on your phone; a strong enough breeze would probably destroy this one.
If a phone and pill case had a baby, it would be this monstrosity that made its way onto China’s mobile market several years ago. The Zen device included an actual piece of jade, pearl powder lacquer, and a glossy 24 karat gold coating, all of which are extremely important phone attributes, making the $1,750 price tag well worth paying.
Modern smart watch creations are able to pack in a ton of features without sacrificing on design. However, back in the day, models like this F88 Wrist Watch Phone, from China Electronics Corporation, were chunky and awkward, and not likely something you’d want strapped to your wrist all day, every day. It seems less like a phone and more like a Power Rangers zeonizer…but if we had to choose between the two, we’d take the latter.
We’re all about coming out with cutting edge designs, but we can’t help but wonder what the folks at Nokia were smoking when they came out with the Nokia 7600 back in 2003. (Perhaps they took a few hits off the Natural Year Phone?) We’re happy that the ridiculously small phone trend that was starting to take off lost steam before it got out of control.
It’s easy to lose your phone, and even more challenging if your phone wants to lose you. The Chamelephone has the ability to automatically take on the color and mock the texture of whatever you place it on top of. Seems like a good idea, right? We do have to admit, the fully touchscreen device does have a certain appeal, but only if it comes with a homing beacon, just in case.
Love the beach? This faux diamond–studded phone will make sure everyone knows … you do? We can’t imagine this phone fits comfortably in your hand or that using it would be the least bit pleasant. But it certainly stands out in the crowd, so that counts for something, right?