Non-porous is the future of mobile phones? There are still many problems to be solved

We have seen such news more than once. Whether it is the concept phone APEX of vivo’s annual Betfair or Xiaomi’s four-curved concept phone, they all set the ultimate goal of mobile phone morphology development as "perfect without holes". Integrated form.

However, this is indeed the form that is most likely to become the final answer under the current mobile phone development path, and almost all manufacturers are aware of this problem.

OPPO has also been exposed recently, saying that it has made a completely non-porous prototype in the laboratory and has retained the wired charging interface with a special structural design.

In fact, as early as 2007, Apple had an engineering machine with a full body without any openings and buttons, but the technical level at that time could not make such a product.

The development trend of mobile phones over the years has made us feel that in the foreseeable future, mobile phones will definitely move towards such an integrated development.

From the early feature phones in different shapes: flip, slide, and even rotate, to touch screen + buttons later. Nowadays, in the era of full-screen smartphones, removing the headphone jack, hiding the sensor under the screen, and then to the under-screen camera, we are getting closer and closer to that "ultimate form".

How did the interface on the phone be killed step by step?

Although the current mass-produced machines have not been able to achieve "no holes", in order to reduce the number of "holes", manufacturers first use these interfaces on the mobile phones to "surge".

The first thing to bear is the disappearance of the headphone jack. This old antique that has been active since we were born was so easily "destroyed" by the iPhone 7 on the mobile phone. Nowadays, if you want to use a wired headset, you can only plug it into the Lighting/Type-C. On the interface.

This universal 3.5mm audio interface has existed in electronic devices for more than 40 years since it was first carried on the first-generation Sony Walkman Walkman. Almost all earphones, stereos, and various devices that can play music use this interface, and its versatility has always been unmatched.

But now, it is very difficult to find a product with a headphone jack in today's mobile phone market. Even if equipped with a headphone jack, most of these products are just entry-level products in mobile phones. The latest flagship models without exception cancel this interface, leaving Sony still insisting on this "faith".

There are different reasons why mobile phone manufacturers cancel the headphone jack. Whether it is water resistance or better sound quality of the data interface, they are actually untenable reasons, but now looking back, maybe this is only a necessary for mobile phone integration and non-porous. The road-wireless.

From wired phones to mobile phones, this may be the earliest "wireless". Later, the antennas of the "Big Brother" and "PHS" with antennas were built into the body of the mobile phone, which is an upgrade from wireless to integrated. The next wireless object is the last interface on the mobile phone-the charging interface.

The two main functions of this interface are charging and data transmission. In terms of transmission, the current Wi-Fi 6E and 5G speeds are already very close to wired. The wireless charging power has also exceeded 67 W, and even the actual charging time can be on the same level as wired charging. Although the current wireless charging is only short-distance contact, long-distance wireless charging can only be achieved in the laboratory, but in the future to solve the energy loss problem, wireless charging will be more practical than now, and we do not use wired charging. Reasons.

Therefore, it is completely technically feasible to remove the charging interface. It's just that wireless chargers are not as popular as wired charging, and it is difficult to emergency charge if there is no wireless charger around. Until the day when high-power wireless charging becomes popular, there may be manufacturers who dare to completely cut off the charging interface. Before that, even "cutting off" should only hide the interface.

Before starting to "de-hole", mobile phone manufacturers are already working towards "integration"

Don't mention the need for antennas, such as too old mobile phones, the ubiquitous physical keyboards that existed in the era of feature phones have gradually lost their usefulness after the appearance of touch screens. Whether it is the coexistence of the number keys and the screen, or the design of the sliding cover hidden inside the fuselage, they have gradually disappeared in the historical process of mobile phones evolving into smart phones. Even the representative of physical keyboards-BlackBerry has completely withdrawn from the stage of history.

As early as the birth of the iPhone, Apple had already begun to use an integrated body design with a non-removable battery, and the trend of an integrated design with no holes in the whole body had already begun to take shape at that time.

The benefits of the non-removable back cover can make the mobile phone more integrated, so that a larger battery can be packed inside the limited body, and the thickness and weight can be effectively controlled while the screen is getting larger and larger.

The buttons on the front of the phone were cancelled by Android manufacturers earlier than the iPhone.

Google made such an attempt as early as the Galaxy Nexus model, porting the virtual buttons of Android 3.0 from tablets to mobile phones. Although not all Android manufacturers have followed this design, before the arrival of the full-screen era, This has always been the most mainstream way of operating mobile phones.

Apple uses a recessed "virtual home button" on the iPhone 7. The vibration of a linear motor is used to simulate the touch of pressing down, which is fake. A considerable number of users have never discovered that the Home button on the iPhone 7 cannot be pressed down. They always think that the Home button will be locked after their iPhone is turned off.

After this is the "full screen" era that we are most familiar with. Mobile phone manufacturers not only want to remove the interface, remove the buttons, and even remove all the openings completely. It seems that whoever takes the lead in making a "integrated" mobile phone can gain the first-mover advantage in the "full screen era" of mobile phones and get the ferry tickets of the next era.

Manufacturers first thought about the side volume keys. Mate 30 Pro uses virtual volume keys, using a high-curvature curved screen to design virtual keys in the traditional volume key position. Double-tap lightly to call out the volume adjustment, and swipe up and down to adjust the volume.

In order to give users an adjustment feedback, Huawei also uses linear motor vibration when users adjust the volume. Although it is difficult to simulate the feeling of actually pressing the volume button, the touch feeling of sliding up and down is like fluctuating a gear, but it is also very intuitive to let users "know" that they are adjusting the volume.

Vivo NEX 3 also uses this design, even the power button is directly abandoned, directly using the "pressure-sensitive button" + linear motor to simulate the physical button. However, in order to complete the simulation of the physical key, 7 sensors and independent circuits must be inserted under the pressure sensitive key to ensure that it can be used normally regardless of whether it is turned on or off.

In order to remove a button, it is not a long-term solution to "simulate" the button in a more complicated way. Not many manufacturers followed up with such a design. It may be too early to get rid of the side buttons.

Can the remaining "holes" on the phone be removed?

In fact, non-porous mobile phones are purely technically speaking, the current level of technology has been able to remove most of the openings. It's just that many non-opening "alternative technologies" experience are not good enough, so they are introduced to the market, and it is difficult to persuade users to buy such a product that may experience degradation at a higher price.

Since the era of full screens, the "hole" we most want to solve is actually the front camera. The light and distance sensor manufacturers next to it have long been able to put them under the screen.

Whether it is to make the "bangs" smaller or to make a lifting mechanism, the goal is to make the front area as small as possible, or even hide it, to achieve a perfect full screen.

With the advent of under-screen camera technology, we now really have a way to "hide" it.

ZTE Axon 20 is the first under-screen camera model to achieve mass production. But it is not perfect. Whether it is the screen strobe in the camera area or the lower resolution, it always reminds the user that there is a camera here.

In fact, this is one of the reasons why mainstream manufacturers still do not have real under-screen camera products on the market, but have released engineering prototypes and concept phones one after another.

As for the rear shot, the electrochromic technology of OnePlus Concept One can also completely hide its appearance. However, the problem of the raised camera may prevent the phone from using a too thick image module, otherwise the thickness of the body may make it impossible to look directly at it.

As for the speakers and earpieces, the screen sound technology can be used, and the exciter can be used to vibrate the screen instead of the sound unit. This is a technology that has been widely verified. Or is it bone conduction, or cantilever piezoelectric ceramics similar to the MIX generation. In short, it is not difficult to make sound without opening a hole in the mobile phone.

But how to hide the microphone is a difficult point. To transmit sound, it is difficult to achieve without opening the hole. However, the semi-permeable membrane technology can solve this problem by making small holes that are invisible to the naked eye but can be breathable.

Another difficulty is the SIM card slot of the mobile phone, but this is not a technical problem, but a problem of the interests of the operators. Now that eSIM technology is so mature, which manufacturer can persuade the operator to jointly launch an eSIM mobile phone? Probably make a truly non-porous phone first.

However, immature technologies such as the under-screen camera, pressure-sensitive buttons, screen sound, and hidden microphone are all concentrated on one product, and the actual experience is still unknown.

After the mobile phone is nonporous, will the next form be screen extension ?

The current development trend of mobile phones in the foreseeable future is to achieve "true full screen", and the next stage may be "true non-porous mobile phones." However, after these goals are reached, will the development of mobile phones stop?

Of course not, the entire development history of mobile phones is the history of mobile phone screens becoming larger and larger, and the screen-to-body ratio getting higher and higher. After the phone screen has taken up the entire front of the phone, the next step may be to expand the screen further.

Android manufacturers that have already sensed the first move have already begun the exploration of the "next stage" mobile phone form, folding screens, scrolling screens, splicing screens… they have tried everything that flexible screens can do at present, but in the end Which is the future direction of mobile phones?

And the most stable Apple still seems not to be in a hurry. Perhaps the final form of the mobile phone envisioned by the iPhone is a complete "glass", just like the "water droplets" of the Trisolaran, without a trace of flaws.

It is difficult to say what the future of mobile phones will be. Maybe it is a folding screen, or a scroll screen, which is another way to unfold the mobile phone screen, or a perfectly integrated mobile phone envisioned by Apple. Of course, the future of mobile phones will develop into what we can't even imagine now.

However, far-sighted manufacturers should have already begun preparations. Maybe they have a "future mobile phone" that they understand in their own laboratory.

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