Why is the “touted” non-porous mobile phone so difficult?

Starting from the iPhone 7, Apple cancelled the 3.5mm headphone jack. To the current iPhone 12, Apple no longer comes with a mobile phone charger. I believe that in the next step, Apple will most likely cancel the charging interface directly. The next development path may be towards As the ultimate evolution goal of mobile phones, non-porous is running wildly.

Starting from the iPhone 7, Apple cancelled the 3.5mm headphone jack. To the current iPhone 12, Apple no longer comes with a mobile phone charger. I believe that in the next step, Apple will most likely cancel the charging interface directly. The next development path may be towards As the ultimate evolution goal of mobile phones, non-porous is running wildly.

Recently, Xiaomi released a concept phone with Siqu waterfall screen. The concept phone seems to have completed this goal. Not only has the borders around the phone been cancelled, but also almost all external interfaces on the phone have been cancelled. The non-porous phone seems It’s about to be realized.

Why is the “touted” non-porous mobile phone so difficult?
Xiaomi Siqu Waterfall Screen Concept Machine|Xiaomi

Coincidentally, Samsung has also issued design drawings of the same concept phone before. It can be seen from the design drawings that its exterior design is similar to the concept phone released by Xiaomi this time, but Samsung has not made a non-porous design.

Why is the “touted” non-porous mobile phone so difficult?
Samsung Concept Phone Image | LetsgoDigital

Difficulties of non-porous design

In order to achieve a non-porous design, several conditions must be met. We can first take a look at which interfaces still exist in the mobile phone, such as earphone jack, power jack, microphone, speaker, power button, volume button, SIM card slot, etc.

The headphone jack in the mobile phone is mainly a 3.5mm headphone jack. Apple took the lead in canceling it in the iPhone 7 era, which also led to the prosperity of TWS headsets. From the perspective of user experience, the cancellation of the 3.5mm headphone jack causes users to be forced to use the headset with the charging interface, and they cannot play while charging. Of course, Bluetooth headsets can also be used, without being restricted by the headset cord, and basically no sense of grip. Influence. However, the disadvantage is that due to the limitation of wireless transmission technology, it is difficult for many mobile phone game users to play games with earphones. High latency will have a greater impact on game operations.

The cancellation of the power interface can be completely replaced by wireless charging. Nowadays, the wireless charging power can reach more than 60W, and the charging speed will not be slower than wired. Coincidentally, both Xiaomi and Motoroa released a wireless charging solution in the front-end time, which allows the device to be charged at a distance of 1 meter or more from the charger.

Today’s wireless charging basically uses electromagnetic induction, and the wireless magnetic circuit through the magnetic field replaces the wired wire to realize the transmission of electricity. And when charging, both the charger and the device to be charged need to be equipped with coils. At the same time, the coils of the two need to be aligned, and the charging can be completed at a very close distance.

Long-distance wireless charging uses electromagnetic resonance to transmit wireless signals through the built-in antenna of the charger. The antenna of the charging device receives the wireless signals, and then converts the wireless signals into electricity to achieve charging. This method can realize long-distance wireless charging, the distance is as long as several meters.

Radio frequency transmission itself is not a novel product. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NB-IoT all work based on radio frequency, while radio frequency wireless charging only converts wireless signals into electricity. The real technical difficulty lies in the problem of conversion efficiency. For example, Xiaomi’s air charging solution has a charging efficiency of only about 5-10%, which is a huge waste of energy.

Of course, in addition to Xiaomi and Motorola, there are many companies involved in air charging technology. For example, Ossia demonstrated an air charging device Ossia Cota in 2017, which can charge up to 32 devices at the same time within a range of 9 meters. , And this device has also passed the FCC certification in the United States. Energous’s WattUp wireless charging system can support a charging distance of up to 4.5 meters. Hearing aids using WattUp wireless charging technology will be available in 2019.

There may be a problem here. When the mobile phone is completely out of power, or the battery has entered the dormant state due to a loss of points, how to turn on the battery? Previously, the battery can be activated by wired charging. Can wireless charging do this? It’s still unclear.

How to hide the microphone is a difficult point. If you want to transmit sound to the microphone, the best way is to open a hole in the body. If you want to hide the microphone, perhaps you can use the same method as the camera under the screen, placing the opening under the screen. As for the speaker design, you can refer to the cantilever beam of the MIX generation, or use bone conduction for sound transmission, which is enough to hide the speaker in the fuselage.

The second is the power button, volume button, mute button and other physical buttons. These buttons can be solved through the interactive mode of the screen. With the pressure sensor and the waterfall screen, it can be implemented in the visual area on both sides through UI design.

But if there is no physical button and no wired connection, in case the phone enters a dead state or the system crashes, how to perform fastboot, how to flash the phone, and how to save the data stored in the phone will be a new difficulty.

Finally, the easiest and most difficult point is the SIM card slot. The simple reason is that eSIM technology is now very mature. There are already eSIM-enabled mobile phones in foreign countries. There are also many domestic companies that have mature eSIM solutions, such as OnePlus. , Meizu’s smart watches are already equipped with eSIM functions, and there is basically no difficulty in transplanting the eSIM cards into mobile phones.

But why this is a very difficult point, because the three major domestic operators do not support mobile eSIM, and users who use eSIM-equipped mobile phones can switch between the operator’s networks at will, perhaps for commercial considerations, and it has not yet been officially established in China. Open mobile eSIM.

Is nonporousness the future of mobile phones?

With the breakthrough of touch screen technology, mobile phones have evolved from simple mobile communication devices for making calls and texting to today’s mobile smart devices. We can use mobile phones to complete many operations such as entertainment, social interaction, and daily consumption. At the same time, with the breakthrough of integrated circuit technology, mobile phones have more powerful computing power. The definition has also changed from auxiliary smart devices to portable productivity tools. Begin to develop towards a higher degree of integration.

So is non-porous design the future of mobile phones? For manufacturers, the non-porous design can undoubtedly greatly improve the waterproof and dustproof capabilities of mobile phones, expand mobile phone usage scenarios, and increase the service life of mobile phones. In contrast, the integrated body also increases the difficulty of repairing mobile phones, which may be a good profit growth point for manufacturers, but for consumers, if the mobile phone is damaged, it will pay a higher price for repairs.

Of course, the elimination of the external interface can also make more space for the internal design, and can put a larger battery in a smaller body. Nowadays, when the battery technology has not been able to break through, increasing the battery capacity of the mobile phone can be effective. Improve battery life and enhance user experience.

At the same time, the integrated fuselage can reduce the digging of the material while ensuring the yield of the product. This also brings more imagination to the fuselage material. Many excellent materials that were limited by processing technology in the past are possible. Become a new body material.

From the perspective of the upstream supply chain, the non-porous design will also make the functions on many mobile phones need to be integrated with other devices, such as under-screen fingerprint technology, which integrates fingerprint recognition with the screen, and under-screen camera technology will also Integrating the front camera with the screen also means that the upstream supply chain will also be forced to undergo a certain degree of integration. Of course, this is for downstream manufacturers, they will enjoy the same many functions in the past at a lower cost.

So is non-porous design the future of mobile phones? This is not necessarily true. Although many technologies for non-porous design are mature for manufacturers, and the cost can be made lower, the reason why it is not popular today is because the domestic experience is not good.

In the past few years, Meizu designed a non-porous mobile phone Zero, which has removed the charging port, physical buttons, speakers, SIM and other interfaces, and the hand feels very round. But this phone has one of the biggest shortcomings. Since eSIM cards are not currently supported in China, the absence of a SIM card slot means that the phone cannot be connected to the mobile network, which makes this phone similar to Apple’s iPod Touch.

On the other hand, limited by the object characteristics of sound transmission, if there is no microphone and speaker, the use of cantilever beams or bone conduction for sound will cause the sound to diverge, so that everyone around can hear the sound on the phone, which lacks privacy.

Therefore, when the technology is not yet mature, non-porous mobile phones are not so much the future of mobile phones, as they are only a direction for the future design of mobile phones.

summary

If there is no fundamental change in the shape of mobile phones in the future, non-porous will likely become a very possible design direction for mobile phones in the future, and it will also need to overcome the limitations of speakers, microphones, eSIM and other technologies and market factors. If there are changes in our auxiliary smart devices in the future, just like the conversion from PCs to mobile phones in the past, and now from mobile phones to AR/VR, cloud phones, brain-computers and other devices, then the non-porous design will be even more impossible to talk about.

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