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Christmas Gift Guide

Phone design disasters

Give it the finger

Two screens are not better than one

Too small to use

Too big to use

SIMs in hard-to-reach places

Nailbed damage

Half-baked functionality

Missing accessories

Insulting accessories

Blaming the victim

I've got to hand it to phone designers who try to do something different with their devices, who add a little something-something that pops with Wow factor. But sometimes the desire to get noticed ends in all sorts of awful. These are some design elements that have fallen flat with a smack.

Editors' note: This gallery was originally published on August 20, 2013 and updated on May 9, 2014.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

What's even worse than putting a fingerprint scanner on the back of a phone, where you have to grope around in order to find it, and manage to smudge your camera more often than not? How about placing it on the back of a phone as large as the 5.9-inch HTC One Max, which is almost too large to even hold with one hand, let alone swipe with it.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

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 through their display.

Here are a bunch of other phones with ill-fated dual displays.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

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.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

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.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

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.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Need to get to the dual-SIM holder, battery, or external storage slot beneath the Yezz Andy 5C's back cover? Too bad. Unless you don't mind tearing off a talon, you'll need to find a tool -- like a coin, knife, or flat-head screwdriver.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

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.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

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 to you, LG Intuition.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

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.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

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 therefore choke the cell signal, you're doing it wrong. Especially if you're insulting your buyers in the process.

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