back to article Meizu ditched hole-free phone because it was 'just the marketing team messing about', not because no one really gave a toss

China's Meizu has disowned its crowdfunded project to create a button-less and port-less smartphone as a daft publicity stunt. The "Meizu zero" was intended to create "the first holeless and seamless smartphone", according to its Indiegogo page, which sought $100,000 funding in January. The zero would have had no USB port, no …

  1. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Facepalm

    No surprises...

    "it's not something many people want"

    Considering that whenever a new phone is reviewed on here you can be pretty certain someone will make a comment about the lack of removable battery or SD card slot, I can't say that this response comes as much of a shock...

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: No surprises...

      Well I need to moan and whinge about something!

      You also missed the lack of a headphone socket, I love to moan about that considering I havent ever used my headphones on my Moto G3.

  2. TechnicalBen Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Price?

    Seems it was just too highly priced. As a choice, it's not a bad option. As a forced "the entire market copies it", it would be a worry. A bit like if everyone adds notches and ditches headphone jacks and removable batteries... oh wait.

  3. m0rt Silver badge

    I have a cube somewhere still that works.

    I loved that particular design aesthetic. The stuff in the last 15 years, no.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Yep. The idea of a single cable from the Cube to monitor that carries power, video, audio and usb for mouse and keyboard has taken a long time to come around again. It the solution to a clear problem, one vocalised by my father thus: "Won't someone rid me of this fucking snakes' nest behind my desk?!"

      Convection cooling too is a good concept.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        "You're using it wrong"

        Richard Sapper, designer if the first ThinkPads, also designed an articulated desk lamp. Unfortunately it was found that some users might rest the head of the lamp against papers on tnekrcdesk, and the lamp being Halogen (no white LEDs in the 1980s of course) and hot there was a clear fire risk. So the manufacturers were forced to add a little stalk to the lamp head to prevent it touching things. Why do I mention this?

        Well, the flat top of the G4 Cube was just too tempting a place for some people to place a paper document or cup of coffee. Users, hey? I guess the Trashcan Mac Pro's shape - also built around convection assisted cooling - discourages people placing folders on top of it, but might look like a nice place to keep ones coffee warm!

        Steve Jobs had previously sold two other cube shaped computers, both designed by Esslinger (of Wega, Sony, and Frog Design), but they were aimed at brain surgeons (Pixar Image Computer) or whoever the hell the NeXT was aimed at. And all we got was Toy Story, the World Wide Web and iD Software's Doom.

  4. Adrian 4 Silver badge

    I think it's a tiny but vocal minority that insist on an earphone and replaceable battery. They have use cases that demand them, but most don't. The first tough phone I got had rubber plugs on most orifices, which were a nuisance but with bluetooth earpieces and wireless charging a design could be completely sealed at least against low-pressure water.

    However, most phones I see in use seem to have cracked screens. Perhaps the users really, really want to get inside. It seems fairly pointless making them fully waterproof while screens remain fragile and expensive to replace.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      My phone looks like it has a cracked screen, but it's merely the replaceable glass screen protector. Assuming the protector has similar mechanical properties as the screen proper, it's saved me the cost of several new screens - i.e the original cost of the phone. Not to mention the drops in puddles, the bath and a stream which would have killed phones of old.

      1. Baldrickk Silver badge

        The protector will be weaker, and more likely to crack - but that's a good thing - it means that it breaks instead of your screen in a harsh incident, even if it is more likely to break than your screen alone.

    2. dajames Silver badge

      ... with bluetooth earpieces and wireless charging a design could be completely sealed at least against low-pressure water.

      ... or, indeed, fairly high-pressure water.

      If that were a design goal the inefficiency of wireless charging might even be acceptable.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        the inefficiency of wireless charging

        Someone recently lent me a wearable thing with a wireless charging cradle. One thing I can say is that plugging in the charging cradle does a truly excellent job of completely killing my DAB reception (even through a brick wall), and presumably putting a dent in the wifi as well, although I haven't checked it yet.

        I solved the problem by loosely wrapping the charger in foil, which seems less than ideal, but will have to do for now.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: the inefficiency of wireless charging

          And charging my phone over USB kills my FM radio reception, as does some LED light bulbs.

          I could wrap the light bulb in tin foil I suppose, but it'd rather defeat the object.

          1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

            Re: the inefficiency of wireless charging

            You could try putting the wireless pad in or underneath a biscuit tin, maybe. An aluminium foil disposable baking tray also might suit. Don't do anything leading to electric shock.

            The LED light bulb, hmm, metal lamp shade? (prob not a good idea to get creative with the aluminium foil)

  5. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Deal...

    Just make us phones with big batteries, an SD card slot, headphone jack, reasonably timed security updates for at least 3 years, and without big ugly fucking notches.

    1. Vulch

      Re: Deal...

      And with a decent sized bezel so you can actually carry the thing round (OK, so I play Ingress) in your hand without continually triggering accidental touches on the screen.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Deal...

        You can retrofit a bezel to any phone: it's called a 'case'. You choose a case to suit you, slender, chunky, one with a pop out hand grip, one with a little stand for watching TV...

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: Deal...

          You can also retrofit a big battery onto any phone in a similar manner.

      2. Clive Galway

        Re: Deal...

        And it's inherently less likely to break

    2. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: Deal...

      I have seen at least Motorola with the G7 Power look at this, must admit I am tempted but sad the battery is "non-replaceable".

      I assume other makers must be following this trend.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Deal...

        But some Moto phones do have swappable (and hot-swappable at that!) batteries via their Moto Mod system.

        I can't help but think that if every poster here who cries out for swappable batteries actually bought said handsets, Moto would be selling a lot more phones.

        As it is, one gets the impression that posters here just want a cheap way to keep using old phones. That is sensible and indeed laudable. However, it should be fairly clear to them why phone vendors aren't designing phones with their wishes in mind.

    3. cream wobbly

      Re: Deal...

      You're asking for OS and firmware updates for 3 years *from launch*. I bought my Moto-X about 4 1/2 years ago and it hasn't been getting updates for about 3 years. Probably more. I'm ready to replace it in the next year or so, probably 2.

      I shouldn't have to put up with an insecure device for most of the time I own it.

      Totally with you on the big battery thing. I mean, they gave this pos a curved back so it can't lie flat. I have to hold it. Just make it rectangular! Fill the gaps with cells!

      I've never had a need for the low resolution front-facing camera either. It's totally pointless. Nobody uses cyberpunk video phones anyway.

      1. sofaspud

        Re: Deal...

        I used to think this myself, but then discovered that my wife has been video chatting with our 5-year-old niece while away on business trips. Both of them love it.

        I have perforce been overruled and all future phones we get will have front-facing cameras.

        (Can't say I'm too miffed about it, at least they're not using it for selfies, I suppose.)

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Deal...

          I found myself using my phone's front facing camera to locate a screw hole underneath a cabinet the other day. It was handy to have, since I didn't have a mirror in my pocket.

        2. Baldrickk Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Deal...

          I remember when you didn't have a front facing camera on phones.

          I have, somewhere, a little periscope device for using the rear camera as a front facing one - ok it also requires a tool to flip the camera 180 degrees, but it worked fine.

  6. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I could live without a headphone socket and any buttons, but I wouldn't want to rely on wireless charging only as I use my phone as a GPS sat nav when in the car which zaps the battery really quickly unless it is plugged in to power. And my phone battery is quite beefy 4000mAh one.

    1. MonkeyBob

      Get a QI charging phone holder for your car, such things are available.

      1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Wireless charging is inefficient.

        I think Meizu could have come up with something better. I would be quite interested in something that had pins for charging.In fact, a single hole with a plug for a USB/SIM/SD/hard reset button would be acceptable.

      2. Dave 126 Silver badge

        The Qi standard alone might not supply enough power for that use case. Individual vendors such as Samsung and Google have wireless charging solutions that can supply more power than the Qi baseline but you need to research which charging mat first. Example: to fast charge a Samsung phone wirelessly you need a compatible charging mat fed by a compatible power source.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Just to say: there are 3rd party charging mats/docks that can wirelessly fast charge Samsung phones other than the overpriced Samsung ones. But research first.

          Google got flak because their Pixel phones would only fast charge wirelessly if the mat gave the right DRM handshake.

          Wirelessly charging a phone which is already in a potentially hot place (a car dashboard) isn't a great idea.

          Consider making an old phone or cheap 7" tablet a dedicated car GPS, even without a data subscription it can get live traffic dsta from your primary phone. This way you don't have the faff of plugging in your phone, you don't care about high temperatures reducing your battery life, and in the case of the tablet you have a bigger display.

          1. Baldrickk Silver badge

            Hmm. I have a Nexus 7 that could do this.

            I'll need to flash a new OS onto it first though. The last official update it got tanked the performance

          2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

            Good point about old phones but beware - batteries and high temperatures may not matter too much, but the one I used to use, an old LG G4, had a tendency to lose GPS when it got hot. This despite being placed well away from direct sunlight and air vents.

            It would be useful, I think, if people reported their experience with different phones as satnavs. The usual testing doesn't tell you but surely nowadays it's one of the commonest uses for phones?

  7. Groaning Ninny

    I know I'm a heretic, but....

    ...I think this is quite a sweet idea. Yes, it's non-expandable, unfixable and becomes basically a disposable device (with all the bad karma inherent in the throwaway culture we have), but it sounds - well, elegant.

    Of course, as the proud user of a Motorola V235 (with extras for when it fails) I'm hardly the main audience.

  8. DontFeedTheTrolls

    "While a hole-less, port-less, slot-less phone is certainly feasible in 2019, it's not something many people want"

    I'd suggest there is actually a huge market for such a device - if the price was right. If I was a betting man I'd put money on the next iPhone having such a version, with QI charging, AirPods and Apple Sim

  9. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Niche use case

    A seamless, portless phone would be easy to sterilise. Heck, in an all glass case the phone could sterilise itself with some integrated UV lamps. I don't know if there's anywhere in the healthcare sector that would benefit from this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Niche use case

      Would be ather a magical phone being able to shine uv through opaque circuit boards.

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Niche use case

      You'd never trust it to sterilise itself, but a properly sealed unit could possibly even be autoclaved, if designed with care.

      1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: Niche use case

        That would be clever as once you're over 70C, your lithium battery may decide to run away thermally (depending on its excess temperature over surroundings), the glue that holds things together goes soft below 100C, and consumer grade electronics doesn't usually like a non-operating case temperature over 110C.

        Even switched off 80C will do for most lithium batteries.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Niche use case

          I wasn't thinking of heat as the sterilisation method, but rather UV or chemical - there would be no nooks or crannies for microbes and viruses to hide in.

          However heat could (though maybe not should) still be used without damaging the battery, since to sterilise it is only necessary to heat the exterior to a high temperature. If the temperature is high enough the duration of heating can be so low as to not raise the temperature of the phone's interior appreciably. That said, I can't see any advantages of using heat over say a quick dunk in peroacetic acid.

          1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

            Re: Niche use case

            An awful lot of organic acids attack plastics. Back in the day we had a small armoury of them for disassembling moulded products as part of quality management.

            The gpp mentioned autoclaving. That normally entails around 121C for 15-20 minutes, hence the numbers I mentioned. Flash surface heating has its own problems - aluminium is a very good conductor so heating enough to kill spores on glass might have no effect on any spores on the aluminium surface.

            Having said all that, given the use of phones in a medical environment, I suspect alcohol wipe would be adequate. Unless you have a forgetful surgeon who sometimes sews his up inside patients.

  10. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    It was a non-starter without a wireless-tethered shoulder-surfing selfie-drone anyway.

  11. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Silent switch

    Probably the most used part of my Plus One. A rapid, no faff way to err put the phone on silent.

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Silent switch

      If you have a good memory, yes. I don't and never remembered to turn mine on again until irate emails started arriving.

      The Android option for silence for a varying period is the best thing from my point of view.

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