Taking a Look at Secondary Flip Phone Screens with Motorola’s Razr

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Now firmly in their fourth generation, flip phones have proven to be more than just disposable. With new devices like Motorola’s Razr on the horizon, their growing popularity has us questioning the functionality offered by the small, square secondary external screen. Unlike their folding cousins, the area available on this external display is limited in both visual space and aspect ratio. Does this render it useless, or could the smaller display provide implications for future exploration of mobile display technology?

The Razr example

According to the leaks And official statements from Motorola, the launch of the new generation of their phones is supposed to happen on June 1, 2023. Two mobiles are currently planned for release, apparently targeting both premium and regular models.

When opened, these will act as typical modern phones, but more interesting to us are the smaller external displays that are still exploring new ground. These small displays operate at a resolution of 1066×1056 pixels at 3.5 inches, and enable a variety of features, the usefulness of which makes us wonder.

Deviation from the norm

Before the arrival of the smartphone, it was often joked that mobile phones would continue to shrink. Smartphones tackled what was then a trend, and has now grown to a point where some pockets can’t contain the larger one and other popular models on the market.

In this way, the smaller size and external display of devices like the Razr are almost anachronistic in their challenge to the status quo. By offering a smaller square screen, they effectively act as a larger smartwatch display, with similar implications for visibility and usability.

On the positive usage side of the equation, smaller monitors can be perfect for the simplest applications and uses. Reading text messages is completely easy on these displays, as is using maps, or skipping between music or audiobooks. Beyond that point, this is where things get more complicated.

In the middle are experiences that excel on smartphones, but have yet to be fully explored on smaller screens. Online gambling services are a strong example here, as a market that has exploded in the smartphone space.

Mobile deposit casino Titles like Crazy Time and Lighting Roulette were developed with flexible HTML5 backing, so scaling to smaller displays is no problem. The same can be said for control, with large buttons meaning navigation is simple. With that in mind, less space on external screens means it’ll probably never be an equal or superior replacement for a traditional approach, and that’s true for many uses. We mentioned above that reading text will be perfect on these small screens, but writing back is a different story. Many of us already struggle with typing on small mobile displays and fitting entire digital keyboards in this space will provide an even greater challenge. Combine the input concerns with some apps outside of extending HTML well to this as-yet-unproven aspect ratio, and the screen limitations become clearer.

Of course, the purpose of this screen is to act as a shortcut to unlocking your phone, but at some point it becomes more of a gimmick than a useful addition. The internal screens have proven to be reliable, and it takes every half a second to unlock the phone, so what’s the point? In the end, this addition may increase production costs for minor benefits, and this could be a weak point in promoting the phone’s popularity. However, if they’re a hit with users, there’s potential for considerable crossover into the smartwatch space, and more phones that break the decades-old mold.


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