At last! A smartphone designed to be flexible, instead of just bending by accident if you sit on it too long. The Blu smartphone, currently seeking funding through Indiegogo, could be a revolutionary step in the right direction for flexibility in smart devices. This phone literally wraps around your wrist, making workout bands a thing of the past.
Or it could be more crowdfunding shenanigans. More on that in a second.
First off, let’s start with the obvious — the flexibility factor. Other companies have tried it. Tried and failed? No, they tried and died. Arubixs, your thunder is officially stolen. The Blu looks to achieve similar goals (wearability, convenience) while keeping you from looking like you have Boba Fett’s or the Predator’s control gauntlet strapped to your arm. Blu’s added one more letter to the Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) acronym – F, for Flexible. The display itself is made from plastic substrate (as opposed to glass, as in LCD screens) and combined with a flexible battery and printed circuit board, the 10-inch long, 2-inch wide phone can roll into a circle 5.5 inches in circumference. For a little extra flash, Blu even has a light panel on the side that works as your notification light (with more functions to come).
The battery gives us pause, of course. Batteries are a thorn in the side of smartphones, and this one presents more questions than answers. Per the site: “Our Flex-ion battery contains a 2,400 mAH capacity. Our device being nearly double the length of a standard smartphone, we endeavor to use either two 2,400 mAH batteries or developing [sic] a new 4,800 mAH battery.” Oh, we’ll just smoosh a second one in. Or build something twice as big. Sure. Good luck.
If you’re thinking, “I’m going to immediately break this thing,” don’t worry, however. Blu is supposed to have survived hammer attacks, falls, and even scissors (so if someone tries to assault you with scissors, you can use it as a gauntlet). For general wear, it has a layer of Willow Glass made by Corning to keep it flexible but strong.
Blu is wireless – as any smartphone worth its salt should be – but not in the way we’re used to. Its only external port is a micro SIM slot. Charging is done via wireless power induction, and file transfers via NFC (Near Field Communication) or online methods. It will come with a USB dock that lets you sync with a PC. For speakers it uses audio transducers mounted to the shell of the phone to produce vibrations, turning ultrasonic sound into wavelengths we can hear and providing what’s essentially a 360 degree speaker. The lack of ports lends to its structural integrity; the circuit board is sealed, making it waterproof. Make sure you have your Bluetooth headphones handy.
Flexibility aside, this will only work as a phone if the specs keep it competitive. And for now, Blu is pretty competitive. Under that 5.3 inch 1,080 × 1,920 screen, it’s running a Snapdragon 810 processor, with an Adreno 430 GPU, all with 128 GB storage and four gigabytes of RAM. Bluetooth is 4.1, Wi-Fi is two-stream 802.11 n/ac, and it has a 13 MP camera. And of course it’s unlocked so your cell carrier won’t shun you, accepting 4G, UMTS, EDGE and GPRS Micro communications. And Blu runs Android, of course.
With stats like this, we’ll forgive the fact that it shares its name with an electronic cigarette (they’re looking into changing the name). Besides, flexibility in touch-screen devices has been long coming, and we’re so glad it’s here — or will be, in August of 2016. Maybe.
There’s the issue of the Blu campaign’s two Kickstarter suspensions to contend with. When asked what happened, Blu’s Durrell Pita told Digital Trends there was confusion over the use of rendered images and an oversight in filling out the bio form, though the creative team is introduced in the video. Tired of the back and forth with the big K, Blu moved its campaign to Indiegogo. Is that assurance enough? Maybe, maybe not. Keep in mind the perennial issue with crowd-funded projects: If something sounds too good to be true, trust your instincts.
Blu isn’t proposing the impossible, however. The tech was showcased years ago, and is definitely real, though few real products exist on this scale. So cross your fingers and wait — or contribute and wait, if you choose. A lot of work needs to happen before it can all be put together into the pretty package Blu has created. The Super-Early bird specials are all gone, but the rest of the Indiegogo deals are still available. The goal is one million bucks, so every donation will help.