Except for the full touchscreen handsets, most mobile phones have two distinct areas – data input UI and display. All the electronics making the phone work go into a phone casing underneath.
In most cases, these two areas are in some way connected to form a handset, and can not be used separately.
But, when you really think about it, there’s no real necessity to have the phone display and keypad in one piece. And there actually may be some cases, where having detached data input and display areas would make more sense. Samsung’s phone/watch configuration would be one of such case.
Now, Sony Ericsson decided to take the idea a step further, and applied it to a normal clamshell phone:
As described in a patent application called “Detachable Housings for a Wireless Communication Device “, mobile phone has two detachably connected housings.
One of them can hold user interface devices such as keypad, keyboard, touchpad, joystick control, etc; for data input and control. Other things, such as GPS receiver, microphone, camera and battery go in there, too.
The second housing will hold a display with some user input buttons and all the necessary phone circuitry, application processor and memory, another battery.
When separated, both housings communicate with each other via short range communication module, e.g. Bluetooth.
What’s more, the housings are designed so, that they can be joined in different orientations. E.g. with the main display on the inside or outside of the clamshell phone, when closed.
The detachable housing design is also not limited to clamshell form factor. It can be applied to “jack-knife” and slider phones as well.
What’s the point of all this? Well, I can see quite a few cases where such design will come in handy.
For starters, it can help cram a lot of electronics and features into a phone, without significantly reducing it’s portability. Most of the bulky things go into a part that is somewhere deep in your bag, while you carry a thin display housing in your pocket.
Think about the Nokia N95. Wouldn’t it be cool to just slide out the thin display to carry around, while the bottom part, housing all the tech wizardry is plugged away in your attache case?
Then, such a design could let Sony Ericsson design clamshell Cybershot phones with big viewfinder. Big display on the outer surface, when in camera mode, but hidden away otherwise.
And, I’m sure, there are many more cool things such separation of display and main data input housings can provide.
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