Remember the late 90s, when mobile phones were deprived of "smart features" and looked more like satellite phones used for military purposes? Over the last two decades, the world of technology has taken the smartphone industry by storm.
Their purpose has seen a tremendous evolution-from being devices with a singular purpose of communication to becoming an integral part of our daily lives.
Perceived as an extension of self, smartphones today exude a certain style statement, of one's aesthetic sensibilities and personal taste. It is unquestionable that technical features and functionality play an essential role in how people perceive a smartphone, but design - from the colour, material, finish, and shape - a phenomenal design is capable of creating a refreshing first impression towards the product, as well as a lasting bond, between the user and their phone.
For a design to be exceptional, it must satisfy three different levels of criteria. The first and most fundamental of these is that the design should attract people - through appealing colours and unique shapes or forms. Second, the design needs to satisfy user needs when it comes to providing a comfortable user experience across the lifetime of the product.
And finally, once those two conditions are met, the design needs to then deliver additional value to its owners - one that makes them feel excited each time they interact with the product and feel empowered by the value brought by the brand.
This is perhaps why smartphone manufacturers are leaving no stone unturned to design phones that not only make a statement but can stand the test of time.
Stability and reliability: Building to leave a lasting impression, the evolution of design has permeated through every part of the manufacturing process.
With consumers investing a substantial sum of their savings into technology, brands too have had to up their game, creating phones that are not only stable but come with substantial shelf lives.
Today, their durability is tested on multiple parameters as opposed to a handful of essentials some years ago. In order to provide steady, long-lasting and solid smartphones, smartphone brands have adopted as many as 150 rigorous quality tests are conducted that range from environmental, mechanical stress, durability, to performance tests.
For durability, smartphones are subjected to one of the most vigorous the Drop test where one unit is dropped 28,000 times from a height of 10cms. Understanding value for money for our customers, many tests relating to waterproofing, environment adaptability, ESD (electrostatic discharge), temperature, press, durability, etc. are conceived to ensure the best smartphone experience for our customers.
Apart from this innovation in the finishing processes and technology, provides a fresh lift to the phone's visual appearance and user-friendliness.
Multiple complex steps are being followed during the manufacturing process including glass cutting, 3D forming, ion exchange, etching and more to come up with that unique glow in the design that sets one device apart from the other.
To create a sparkling matte finish multiple variables need to be controlled during the process, such as the angle, temperature, and duration in which the glass is immersed into the proprietary etching solution.
Style, Size & Appearance: This brings to the other factors that are on top of a consumer's purchase journey. Being one of the most sought-after features, mobile phones have been synonymous with style ever since the advent of smartphones.
This early smartphone era ensured that despite functionality customers were offered an experience that touched a chord with their sensibilities. One of the most observable changes in the recent past has been size. Designing smartphones of the future, devices have evolved from being bulky to some of the sleekest, thinnest designs that not only fit like a glove but also exude a sense of ease in our day-to-day lives.
Weight: Giving credence to comfort and fit, research has identified a range of 7.0-8.0mm as the optimal thickness for delivering a comfortable experience on smartphones. As for weight, it may come as a surprise that lighter does not necessarily mean better.
An extensive customer survey concluded that 175g+ is the optimal weight that offers users a sense of high quality and durability when they hold it in their hand, without over-burdening them by being too heavy. The result is a device that can be easily held with just one hand, can fit comfortably into a pocket, and can be used for long periods without feeling tiresome.
Apart from being designed to offer a better grip, the flat-edged smartphone frame and bevelled edges also make it extremely comfortable to hold.
Similarly, introducing phones for special occasions, apart from the usual array of colours on offer, special edition phones are hitting the market to commemorate celebratory occasions for customers; the classic blacks and blues, have made way for shimmering golds and deep reds, making them collectors' items.
In conclusion, as the smartphone industry begins to mature, it will be constantly backed by stable time-tested technology.
In the next five years, smartphone technology is slated to be more personalised to individualist taste and style with a plethora of customisable features.
Smartphones in the next decade will integrate futuristic technologies with innovative product design, creating seamless experiences all while redefining the relationships between customers, their devices, technology and the world around them.
(The author is Vice President-Head-OPPO India R&D.)
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