Crazy-looking smartphones that push the envelope (roundup)

Handsets don't always have to be rectangular black slabs. As these devices will show you, they can be curved, circular or downright quirky.


Editors' note:This article originally posted August 13, 2012, and is updated periodically.

In a sea of black rectangular handsets, it's easy to understand why mobile manufacturers sometimes take a chance and design a smartphone that looks different. Most of the time, that amounts to either an uncommon color that diverges from the usual black and white option, or different materials, like the customizable Motorola Moto X Pure Edition (which has wood grain and leather backings.) But to really leave a mark, these devices below go beyond simple aesthetic changes. They take on different form factors altogether or lead the change on what handsets will look like in the future.

The Xperia Z5 Premium's 4K display is upping the bar on handset resultion. Rich Trenholm/CNET

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

In addition to its luxurious coat of gold paint, the Xperia Z5 Premium has another trick up its sleeve: it has an eye-searing 3,840x2,160-pixel -- otherwise known as 4K -- resolution. The idea of a 4K handset has been tossed around before with the ZTE Star 3, and whether or not that high of a resolution is even necessary is still up for debate. But with Sony's brand recognition and wide appeal, for all we know the future of smartphone display has finally arrived. Read the hands-on here.

The Galaxy S6 Edge Plus has a curved display that tapers down along both its sides. Sarah Tew/CNET

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+

As the bigger 5.7-inch counterpart to the 5.1-inch Galaxy S6 Edge, the Edge+ sports the same curves that run alongside both left and right edges of its bezel. Together, these two make one of the most interesting-looking (and expensive) mobile devices. In addition to being novel, the Edge Display software lets you easily view and interact with missed notifications and calls and pull up favorite contacts. Read the full review here.

It's easy to see why the Runcible is the most unorthodox-looking smartphone. Sarah Tew/CNET

Monohm Runcible

Earlier this year at MWC 2015, we caught a glimpse of one of the most novel and unique-looking smartphones we've seen in recent years. Known as the Runcible, this device has a polished and circular design, and works in conjunction with a Bluetooth headset to answer calls. It runs a Firefox-based mobile OS, features a rear-facing camera, and has interchangeable back plates made of different wood grains like bamboo. If you're interested in nabbing this pocket-smartwatch/phone, it aims to go on sale by the end of this year in Japan for $600 unlocked (£390 or AU$770 converted). Read the hands-on here.

With its bowed body, the G Flex 2 sets itself apart. Josh Miller/CNET

LG G Flex 2

Though its arched body isn't as prominent as its predecessor's, the G Flex 2 still has a visible curved design that sets it apart from other handsets. That arc also flexes, and you can push against its back side without fear of it breaking. For extra protection, the battery door features a "self healing," scratch-resistant coating to help against daily wear and tear. Read the full review here.

The dual-sided YotaPhone 2 offers a secondary e-ink display on the back. Andrew Hoyle/CNET

YotaPhone 2

Consider this handset the "Two-Face" of the mobile world (well, except without all the evil villain connotation). Sporting displays on its front and back surfaces, the YotaPhone 2 has a main 5-inch colored display with a 1,080p resolution and 440ppi that you'd see on regular smartphones, as well as a black-and-white, low-energy e-ink screen on the other side for Web browsing, gaming and reading e-books. This enables users to read text on their handsets for long periods without draining the battery. Read the full review here.

LG G Flex
Named YoYo, this is the one female anthropomorphic Aka phone. Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

LG Aka

To get users to connect with their phones on an emotional level, LG has injected individual personalities into its line of Aka handsets. With names like Eggy (pictured above), Wooky, YoYo and Soul, these colorful devices have digital eyes that can change expression, built-in interactive software and even backstories for users to explore. That's definitely one quirky way to stand out from others in the market. Read the hands-on here.

Do you have any favorites that didn't make this list? Chime in below in the comments.

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