You know Carl Pei? Does his name mean anything to you? Make a note of it. He could be a key figure in the future of technology in his way. He is a cosmopolitan: born in China, raised in Sweden, perfected at work in India. The co-founder of OnePlus (this name I guess tells you something, instead) now "threatens" to transform the form factor of smartphones with a concept that promises to be truly original.
With the smartphone Nothing on the horizon, expectations for what could emerge from Carl Pei's team are at an all-time high. Is it possible that this “Nothing Phone” is something memorable that opens a new cycle in the industry?
A gold-paved avenue of sunset
For some time now, death knell has been rung for the smartphone. The sirens of the future tell us that the integration between some kind of headset and wearables like smartwatch or smartring will replace it.
Maybe. It is also true that this platform (from the first smartwatch in 2006) has just turned 15 and will not abandon us instantly. Its sunset is destined to see, as it was for the old pre-smartphone cell phones, a series of technical and even philosophical attempts at 'adaptation'. Evidence that perhaps will also be an inspiration for the future.
In this sense Carl Pei is a pioneer. Knowing he's working on a new form factor and new concept means expecting serious news. No special effects, mind you: innovation these days means sustainability. A truly innovative smartphone today should be transparent, repairable, modular, and avoid waste.
The form factor is the child of ethics
Not much news about Carl Pei's new prototype is filtered out. An insider close to the entrepreneur, Evan Blass recently shared a photo of Pei in a conversation with Qualcomm's CEO Christian Amon, while showing him a smartphone never seen before. When you zoom in on the image, you can barely make out the profile of the device and a "hump" of the camera on the back.
In the coming weeks we will know more, but in the meantime the designers have gone wild with hypotheses of design starting from this little information.
How could the form factor of the Nothing Phone be? Two hypotheses
Among these the reconstructions of Nothing Phone are those conceived by the designers Osho Jain e Povilas Grigas the ones that gave me the most ideas. Both display a truly overbearing form factor. And for a noble purpose! To show with simplicity and clarity the individual parts of a phone that is easy to use, to repair, to recycle.
I love the idea that the philosophy of a technology that improves our lives without hindering them can take hold. A non-invasive, non-invasive technology. A light technology as if it were not there. Nothing. Without compromising on comfort and ergonomics, these smartphones use less material, and they show it. Indeed, they recover intrinsically nostalgic elements: visually and physically separating the microphone from the speaker, the design re-proposes in a renewed form the "handset" that belonged to old household phones.
The energy equivalent of a “Nothing” choice will come from innovative batteries, much smaller and faster with the same autonomy: I am thinking of those with gallium nitride.