First, they took away our keyboard, then the buttons below the screen, then the headphone jack. Now turn the smartphone into a monolithic bar without a single hole and port. Vivo Apex 2019 and Meizu Zero are the first signs of a new “holeless” trend. Are you ready to abandon USB, speaker, volume keys? Vote in our large poll.
Manufacturers have a couple of years have everything you need to produce smartphones such as "rectangle with a display", that is, without physical interfaces. Minijack instead of Bluetooth, USB functions take over the "cloud" and wireless charging, and as the speakers – a vibrating screen. The keys become touch, the fingerprint sensor goes under the glass of the display – and voila! – monolithic smartphone in your pocket. But is humanity ready for it? Let's try to imagine a device without physical interfaces in real life. How will he cope with his usual tasks and will he have to sacrifice something to the owner of such a gadget?
Bluetooth instead of headphone jack
By the loss of minijack users have become accustomed. But so far they still have a siding – an adapter with USB or Lightning to headphones. In the case of a monolithic smartphone, this trick will not work: you will have to connect a wireless headset.
First of all, the decision is not for music lovers who are accustomed to listening to music in high quality, with clear sound conducted through the DAC. Consequently, they will either remain supporters of classic smartphones, or will find an alternative in the form of a Hi-Fi player.
Is the disappearance of the headphone jack critical for you?
Magnetic connector and Qi analogues instead of USB charging
Hardly anyone would argue with the fact that the current standards of wireless charging fail in the role of the only opportunity to replenish battery life. After all, Qi and analogs work godlessly slowly.
Vivo and Meizu solved the problem in their own way. The first equipped the device with a magnetic power MagPort connector. He must not only charge the battery at plus or minus the usual pace, but also transfer files, as with a standard USB. In Meizu, according to their statement, they modified the technology of inductive charging and equipped the smartphone with a docking station with a power of 18 W. Probably, it also speeds up the process, but it is hardly necessary to count on communication with a PC.
Is the disappearance of the connector for charging and data exchange with a PC critical?
Cloud services instead of memory cards and OTG
Someone is no stranger, but for some, the lack of a memory card slot is a big problem. In the case of monolithic smartphones, there is no alternative: how many gigs the manufacturer laid into the device, so much is allotted for photos, videos and music. Even classic flash drives through OTG can not be connected – there is no connector.
Cloud files will come to the rescue. Residents of large cities in general, no difference: 4G coverage is dense, Wi-Fi is at home, at work, in the subway and in general anywhere. But it is necessary to get into the area, as with the Internet interruptions begin. Sometimes it is even difficult to download music from the service, not to mention YouTube videos in Full HD and movies from the home server. In other words, you can live, but you will have to keep the coverage map of your mobile operator in mind.
Can I live without a memory card slot?
Calls and mobile Internet or eSIM, which is not?
Not only can you not insert a memory card into a monolithic smartphone – there is no place for a SIM card either. We'll have to switch to eSIM, a technology that no Russian operator currently supports. And whether it will support soon is a question. The Law on Communication is now considering eSIM as a SIM card cloning, which is prohibited.
It remains to hope for the gradual spread of eSIM in the world thanks to the latest generation iPhone, Apple Watch and Vivo and Meizu smartphones. You see, this will push our legislation and the mobile market in the right direction.
Can we live without physical SIM cards?
Vibrating screen instead of classic speaker
In pursuit of framelessness and solidity, manufacturers will abandon the usual speakers, under which holes are cut in the case. Vivo and Meizu have developed Body SoundCasting and mSound 2.0 technologies – the essence of both is that the sound is transmitted through the vibration of the display.
There are many questions to the invention, but the answers will be given only by testing. Will the interlocutor sound as clearly as in a normal speaker? Do not hear a personal conversation around? And, on the contrary, is the speakerphone adequately implemented? And how to listen to music and watch movies at home?
Can the vibrating screen replace the speaker?
Pressure sensors instead of physical buttons
More recently, the consumer asked why the NTS and Google Pixel sensitive side faces? The function, of course, is convenient, but with physical or virtual buttons it is redundant. The situation changes radically, if you follow the navigation keys to remove the power and volume keys.
Standard capacitive buttons as an alternative are hardly suitable. And finding the physical to turn off the sound in the middle of the night or during an important meeting is a matter of a second. Capacitive, even with relief, not found in a hurry.
But sensory areas with tactile response and pressure sensors are another matter. First, functionally, they can completely replace physical keys. Secondly, they are responsive and take up enough space on the case so that the user has the opportunity, for example, to quickly turn off the sound. Finally, they can perform the function of a hard reset, if suddenly the smartphone hangs.
Lack of physical buttons – the norm?
Standard microphone → no replacement yet
The question that remains open (in all senses) is microphones. In the Vivo and Meizu devices, these are the only interfaces that have retained the usual form factor and forced the engineers to make small holes in the case.
Perhaps in the near future they will solve this problem. Because they allow the technology to make microphones in the form of ultrathin filaments or plates, which theoretically can be placed directly on the surface of the body. But this is still an experiment – they will only be on the market in a couple of years.
It remains the only "hole" in the smartphone, and that – conditional. Nothing?
Absolute water tightness instead of moisture protection with reservations
If you close your eyes to the holes for microphones, from which there is no way to go, the monolith is devoid of holes, gaps and even joints. The exceptions are a block with a camera (it can be covered with the same glass as the whole body) and a fingerprint sensor (if it is not placed in the display like the Vivo Apex 2019).
Hence, the case is easier to protect from moisture and dust. Due to the tightness of the consumer will get a more reliable device that can work in dusty, dirty places and survive a long immersion in salt water (for example, if you want to click on beautiful pictures in the sea).
Do you need absolute waterproof smartphone?
Maintainability will improve (or not)
When vendors massively abandoned removable covers, people resented. Say, how do you order to change the battery? There was an alternative: contact the service center or with blogger help to open the smartphone yourself.
Now, in which case, you will have to carry the device into service. However, smartphones will probably break less often. At a minimum, common problems associated with the USB connector will be a thing of the past. And the fall in the water "endless" smartphones are not terrible.
Dare to buy a smartphone that can not be fixed on their own?
The lack of a USB connector, in turn, seriously limits the capabilities of those who don’t feed them with bread – let them roll out custom firmware. Well, if a connector like MagPort is provided: since it provides a full connection to a PC, then there will be no problems with OS preparation.
Logic suggests that the only alternative for devices without such an interface is a wireless connection. The appropriate set of tools will be needed in any case: for developers and service center employees. Therefore, access to them is a matter of technique. Another question is how it will be implemented. But than to dream, it is easier to wait for the release of such devices and see it live. One thing is clear: "sew" such smartphones will not be easier. But if something goes wrong, you get a neat and beautiful "brick".
Dancing with a tambourine will be a hundred times more complicated – scary?
When can I just take and buy a smartphone-monolith?
In the history of the industry there is a clear trend. Almost all innovations are tested in niche experimental models before leaving for the mass market.
There are a lot of examples of manufacturers' courage:
- fingerprint sensor ( Motorola Atrix , 2011);
- fingerprint sensor in the display ( Vivo X20 Plus UD , 2018);
- frameless display ( Sharp Corner R , 2016);
- rejection of 3.5 mm connector ( LeEco Le2 , 2016)
- Sound transmission using bone conduction effect ( Xiaomi Mi Mix , 2016)
Most likely, already in the early 2020s, one of the legislators of the smartphone mod will release a flagship monolith. Ideally, all the listed technologies will be brought to mind by that moment, and the transition to monolithic smartphones will be painless. There, you see, and the Russian operators with eSIM will catch up. Or even with 5G, but this is not accurate.