Nowadays, mobile phone manufacturers and car companies seem to be trapped in a strange circle. Mobile phone manufacturers build cars, and car manufacturers build mobile phones. Both parties go back and forth, and everyone who looks professional is doing work that they are not professional in.
Just now, NIO held the NIO IN 2023 NIO Innovation and Technology Day at the "Golden Stove·China Baowu Steel Expo Center" in Baoshan, Shanghai.
In addition to sharing the layout of NIO's full-stack technology, this NIO Technology Day also released an important new mobile Internet product release – NIO Phone, NIO mobile phone.
More than a year after the project was established, NIO’s smartphone is finally here.
NIO Phone, the flagship phone for NIO car owners
Regarding the most frequently asked question "Why does NIO build mobile phones?" Li Bin, who carries two NIO Phones in his pocket, can finally say this with confidence today: "Our users need a phone that is compatible with NIO." A mobile phone that seamlessly connects to the car.”
Born for NIO car owners is Li Bin’s direct response to the controversy over NIO’s mobile phone manufacturing.
NIO, which has always emphasized that it builds high-end electric cars, chooses to use the "standard configuration is the flagship" approach to talk about making mobile phones, so it must at least use the universal standards of flagship phones in the industry to demand itself.
Therefore, the NIO mobile phone is naturally equipped with Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen2 SoC, with up to 16GB + 1TB memory combination. The front is a 6.81-inch OLED curved screen with 2K resolution and supports 120Hz refresh rate. The whole machine supports IP68 It is dustproof and water-resistant, equipped with a 5200mAh battery that supports 66W wired fast charging and 50W wireless fast charging. It also supports wireless charging and provides a wireless reverse power supply function.
As the CEO of a new power car company, Li Bin commented on this mobile phone processor: "Unless you develop it yourself, this is the best thing you can buy."
Since this phone is designed for NIO car owners, its design style must naturally be inherited from NIO cars. Therefore, NIO Phone adopts a skyline design to distinguish the slightly raised imaging module above from the body below. The 3.9mm curved surface height difference still gives NIO phones a better grip.
The colors of the 4 performance versions are derived from the exterior colors of NIO models. They adopt a matte integrated glass five-curved shape and are available in mirror pink, stratosphere blue, star gray and star green. The colors of the 2 flagship versions are derived from the interior of NIO. , using ceramic logo inlay technology, nano-microcrystalline ceramics and environmentally friendly plain leather are precisely spliced, showing edelweiss white and distant mountain daisy correspondingly.
In addition, there is a special version of EPedition. The upper part of the skyline is a nano-microcrystalline ceramic laser-etched texture, while the lower part has the ceramic logo embedded in plain leather, interspersed with classic red elements to embellish the skyline of the fuselage, highlighting the EP's classic red line. design style.
The car and the mobile phone are of the same color, which should hit the hearts of some obsessive-compulsive disorder users.
Although it is a car company that manufactures mobile phones, NIO inevitably dedicates a separate chapter to the imaging part of NIO phones to talk about it.
The three rear cameras are all 50 million pixels. The wide-angle is an IMX707 sensor with an equivalent focal length of 23mm; the ultra-wide-angle is an IMX766 with an equivalent focal length of 15mm; and the periscope telephoto is an IMX890 sensor with an equivalent focal length of 65mm.
The fly in the ointment may be that the focal length of this 2.8× periscope telephoto lens may be a little short?
As a mobile phone made by a car company, the creativity of NIO mobile phones in imaging lies in how to take good photos of cars, that is, "making the car the focus."
For this purpose, Weilai mobile phones provide two sets of filters: focus color filter and speed filter. The former can automatically identify the car being photographed, and then only retain the color of the vehicle, and change the surrounding environment into black and white, automatically making the car the protagonist; the latter can also identify the car being photographed, and then intelligently process the surrounding environment into a dynamic blur. Make the car look like it's speeding.
On the whole, Weilai mobile phones do use flagship-level configuration standards and truly appear in the world as a flagship mobile phone. If this configuration is launched in September 2023, there won't be much that will refresh consumers.
Li Bin was also quite direct, saying that Nio’s phones have everything a high-end flagship phone should have, and the technical content is actually not that high, so there is no need to applaud.
After talking about the hardware configuration, the conference is not over. Obviously, the NIO Link panoramic interconnection technology in the second half is the core competitiveness of NIO mobile phones.
Becoming a more useful mobile phone car control key for NIO is the primary purpose of NIO’s mobile phone. Based on UWB technology, NIO mobile phones can completely replace car keys and support unlocking within 48 hours without power.
Li Bin said that many NIO owners own more than one NIO car. NIO mobile phones can achieve precise distance sensing very well. You can control multiple vehicles with one mobile phone and unlock whichever one you are close to.
An important hardware feature that makes NIO mobile phones a car-specific mobile phone is the independent "car control button" on the side. Existing as a physical button, you can access preset car control functions with one click. When Li Bin began to introduce this button, cheers and long-lasting applause immediately broke out in the Weilai car owner area.
After replacing the car key, NIO Mobile also considered how to surpass the car key, so in addition to remote car control and near-field car control, they even added in-car control. In the cockpit, NIO Phone can automatically switch the car control card according to the seat where the phone is located, accurately adjust various seat functions and zoned air conditioning at the seat, and can also help other passengers adjust.
Hand-car interconnection is a very important function for smart cockpits. Based on NIO Link, NIO mobile phones can map the mobile phone screen to the car screen through the "Sky Window" function.
Li Bin said: "At this time, everyone will know why we made the central control in the car into a vertical screen form. This has also been prepared for mobile phones long ago."
What is more interesting is that it does not simply mirror the mobile phone screen to the car central control screen, but is equivalent to extending an independent screen for the mobile phone. The central control screen will run an independent clone of the mobile phone, supporting dual applications on the central control screen and the mobile phone to run different applications in parallel.
NIO mobile phones are equipped with an operation interface called Sky UI, which is deeply optimized based on the Android system. While emphasizing privacy and security, it also directly provides an experience with zero system advertisements and zero commercial pre-installation.
Regarding this, Li Bin joked at the press conference: "When the internal team was discussing, I already asked them to cut off the advertising interface. I said, how much money can we make by using advertising? And to be honest, our mobile phone sales can How many units have been sold?”
In terms of configuration price, NIO Phone provides three configuration options:
- Performance version 12GB+512GB: 6499 yuan
- Ultimate version 12GB+1TB: 6899 yuan
- EPedition 16GB+1TB: 7499 yuan
*3 configuration models can support up to 10,000 points redemption and payment
At the same time, NIO launched the NIO Phone Care comprehensive protection service for 699 yuan (supports full points payment), and the NIO Phone 1TB cloud service for 38 yuan/month (cooperated with Tencent, does not support points redemption).
Weilai’s full technology stack, self-developed swordsmanship
Contrary to outside rumors, NIO’s mobile phone was not the only highlight of the conference. Li Bin talked about NIO’s full-stack technology framework in the early part of the conference.
"Full stack of NIO technology", including chips and vehicle-mounted intelligent hardware, battery systems, electric drive systems, vehicle engineering, operating systems, mobile Internet, intelligent driving, intelligent cockpits, smart energy, intelligent manufacturing, artificial intelligence, global digital operations, etc. The 12 key technology areas will meet NIO’s research and development needs in nine major elements in three dimensions: intelligence, electric, automobiles, products, services, communities, multi-brands, multi-platforms, and multi-regions.
Weilai will insist on using research and development in exchange for long-term gross profits.
At the press conference, Li Bin emphasized the importance of self-research to NIO and talked about the results of self-research in various fields.
In terms of self-developed chips, in addition to the 7nm self-developed cockpit chip that was exposed not long ago, Li Bin also revealed that in April this year, the development of NIO’s first self-developed lidar main control chip NX6031 was completed and will enter mass production in October. stage.
According to Li Bin, after forming the NIO chip self-research team, the current production process was quickly sorted out. After completing the combing, the team first selected the lidar chip to "test it out". The NX 6031 chip is equipped with an 8-core 64-bit processor, which provides powerful computing support, and is equipped with an 8-channel 9-bit ADC with a sampling rate of up to 1GHz, which can efficiently capture the original data of the lidar sensor, and the point cloud processing capacity reaches 8 million/ seconds, reducing power consumption by 50% and latency by 30% for lidar.
Based on the powerful processing capabilities of the chip, AD defines richer point cloud features to further improve the accuracy and reliability of the sensing system; the effective ROI coverage of 120 degrees horizontally and 9.6 degrees vertically and the 8-echo processing capability also enable AD to support More complex and even harsh driving scenarios.
Li Bin believes that NX 6031 is one of the best lidar main control chips in the industry. Inspired by the arrangement of lidar, NIO's internal team officially named this chip with excellent performance "Yang Jian".
When it comes to batteries, although Weilai uses the world's first ternary iron-lithium battery system, Weilai also admits the difficulties of self-developed batteries. Li Bin further revealed that NIO’s new battery research and development is progressing steadily, which may include the long-rumored development of solid-state batteries.
Going deep into the underlying operating system, NIO officially announced the release of Tianshu SkyOS, a full-vehicle operating system. This is also the first underlying operating system released by a car company, covering multiple fields such as vehicle systems, assisted driving, smart cockpits, and mobile Internet. . Tianshu SkyOS solves the problem of software, hardware and service integration by building a "1+4+N technology cluster", and can also solve the security, real-time and other issues of different "domains" of the car.
According to NIO’s official introduction, the “1” in “1+4+N” refers to SkyOS-H, a management program that supports the needs of multiple operating systems in the cockpit and autonomous driving domains and provides a secure base; “4” It includes Tianshu SkyOS-M and SkyOS-L, which are highly secure, highly reliable, and high real-time operating systems based on microkernels, SkyOS-R, which is a high-performance operating system built for complex application scenarios, and SkyOS-C, which is deeply customized based on Android. ; "N" is SkyOS-core middleware self-developed.
In addition to the advancement of global control, we have also responded quickly to scene interconnection. NIO simultaneously released NIO Link full-scenario interconnection, which is based on hardware and uses software and hardware integration and device-cloud collaboration to achieve a full-link secure and open new car-centric mobile interconnection method.
The first feature of NIO Link is "unrestricted and wide range". It is not limited to traditional vehicle interconnection. It goes beyond the simple link between the vehicle and the mobile phone and completes the seamless connection between the vehicle and the surrounding environment through mobile phones, wearable devices and even road facilities. Seamless interaction, extending a broader application space; the second feature is "autonomous controllability, deep integration", NIO Link will be deeply integrated with data to enhance the car experience such as digital keys, automatic parking, cockpit control, etc., and carry out comprehensive Content exchange of directions.
Li Bin mentioned that for a long time, he had expressed strong concerns about the introduction of third-party content into NIO cars.
However, thanks to NIO Link, NIO’s smart cockpit content can be greatly enriched. Combined with NIO Link's deep data integration, NIO's smart cockpit will introduce the "App Mall". By the end of September, the App Mall is expected to have more than 40 apps online, 7 of which are industry premieres. It is worth mentioning that NIO In the future, NIO Phone users will be provided with exclusive Feishu meetings, Tencent meetings, DingTalk meetings, etc. to meet users’ business office needs.
NIO has also launched the mass-produced cross-domain integrated supercomputing cluster CCC, which can realize the computing power call between the ADAM NIO supercomputing platform and the 8155 chip, realize the sharing of computing power for smart driving, cockpit and vehicle control, and also supports Perception data is shared across domains and with low latency to further enhance users’ smart cockpit experience.
Through 4D R&D, local operations of global R&D, technology investment and incubation, joint R&D with partners, and cooperation with universities, NIO has achieved long-term development and innovation in various technical fields of vehicle R&D, actively promoted technological changes in smart electric vehicles, and continued to provide Provide users with better product and service experience.
In fact, whether it is mobile phones or the results of self-developed systems such as NIO Link and SkyOS, behind them are NIO's new thinking on the closed loop of the automotive ecosystem. When cars and mobile phones have become two super-intelligent terminals in daily life, NIO is more willing to take the initiative to control its own destiny instead of getting involved in commercial games with third parties.
NIO mobile phones can currently only attract some NIO car owners
Today's NIO IN basically answers the question "Why does NIO make a mobile phone?" After today, what NIO will answer will be the question "How does NIO make a good mobile phone?"
However, the current NIO Phone can only attract some NIO car owners to buy it. For those users who have never purchased a NIO car, the NIO Phone cannot bring a fresher experience.
For NIO car owners, the NIO Phone is not perfect. There may be some car owners who are unwilling to give up the iOS ecosystem and switch to the Android camp. There may also be some car owners who think that the imaging capabilities of NIO phones are not "far ahead".
Of course, Li Bin also clearly realizes this, so NIO's logic for making mobile phones is not to directly compete with mobile phone manufacturers such as Huawei and Xiaomi, but more like NIO Life, aiming to focus on NIO's automotive business , to meet the needs of car owners.
Here, Weilai mobile phones still need to connect well with users, satisfy the emotional value of car owners and users, and make the car experience more satisfying.
The final pricing is basically in line with the rumors, and 10,000 points can be used for deductible payment. The points in the hands of car owners have new uses. If the mobile phone is regarded as an optional configuration of NIO, then the price is not too expensive.
Li Bin said in July last year: "We are definitely not comparable to companies that sell 100 million mobile phones now. It is not difficult to make mobile phones now, but it is still challenging to make easy-to-use mobile phones. What Weilai has to do is, The goal is to create a useful mobile phone for Weilai users, and develop a mobile phone every year, just like Apple.”
If we look at the user experience of NIO car owners, NIO mobile phones currently have a very obvious flaw that does not meet the vision of "rechargeable, replaceable and upgradeable", that is, it does not support battery replacement.
*This article was jointly written by Xie Dongcheng and Deng Zefeng
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