I've been known to complain about phones that look too much the same, and that's something that designers hear loud and clear. It's also in their best interests to create a design that pops with wow factor. But sometimes the desire to do it differently, or to solve a space dilemma, ends in all sorts of awful. Here's where manufacturers fall short.
It will take more than a live appearance by magician David Blane to get us to forget the dual-screened monstrosity that was the Kyocera Echo. Unfortunately, Kyocera's unique design that folded out into a 4.7-inch screen didn't just push the envelope, it tore it. Turns out, split screen apps work well only in theory, and nobody likes a seam running through their display.
Small phones used to be trendy -- I get it. However, phones like the HP Veer, of the Palm Pre family line, turn toward the ludicrous with a 2.6-inch display barely large enough to tap (the QWERTY keyboard helped), a non-standard charging port, and a separate connector in case you wanted to use headphones. Veer, veer away.
I can respect a company's desire to bring niche devices to customers who really want them, but the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom takes "ridiculous" to a new level. Although its 10x optical zooming camera admittedly brings flexible shooting controls and 16-megapixel files, the woefully impractical smartphone/camera hybrid hulker takes some hardware shortcuts, is too heavy to hold for long stretches, and is too bulbous to fit into your pocket.
Oh, so you want to change the micro-SIM card on the Nokia Lumia 620? No problem. Step 1: Remove the back panel. Step 2: Take out the battery. Step 3: Locate the SIM card tray hidden in the side of the battery wall beneath the microSD card slot. Luckily, the Lumia 620 is a good quality, affordable smartphone in other respects.
There's nothing wrong with the HTC Status' Facebook button per se, but if you're going to sacrifice screen size for that physical keyboard, at least support landscape mode.
Apart from committing the sin of smallness, the main problem with Microsoft's Kin phones is that it completely bypassed basic features. Sure, it connected to social networks like a champ, but if you wanted to enter a calendar item, forget it. It also completely lacked an app store.
Dear phone-maker: If you are trying to sell a device with an interesting feature, such as a stylus, or want to position it to take memos, please include a stylus with the phone, as well as a place to sheath it. I'm talking about you, LG Intuition.
Oh, the rage that rained down on HTC when it unveiled the Rhyme. The handset itself was great: a perky, polished design sporting a custom version of Android. Instead, it was the light-up charm accessory built for ladies' purses that earned this grape-colored phone its wrath.
One word: Antennagate. It doesn't matter how gorgeous your phone design. If you have to instruct your iPhone 4 customers how to hold the handset so that they don't cover a crucial antenna -- and you insult them in the process -- you're doing it wrong.