Welcome to the magic land a.k.a. Japan! If you want to see the wackiest out-of-this-world inventions, you go there. And the latest comes from a toaster company called Balmuda. You’ve already guessed what it is – the title gives it away – it’s a tiny smartphone.
And if you think that this is the next PR stunt, you couldn’t be farther from the truth. Even though many companies have done such “exercises” during the years, and just ordered a random phone from a random OEM manufacturer, just to put their name on it, the case with Balmuda is entirely different.
The Japanese thought that modern phones are too big, chunky, and not ergonomic enough. Drawing inspiration from toaster design, Balmuda decided to bring a compact, rounded device, that fits perfectly into a human hand.
Here’s what the official website says about its brainchild: “The Balmuda Phone was designed for a shape that fits naturally in your hand. To achieve this, not only is the back curved but the shape when viewed from the front is actually wrapped in a gentle curve—even the display. In other words, the Balmuda Phone is the only smartphone whose proportions do not include any straight lines.”It’s a bold and strange move to make a smartphone “without a single straight line” and to make a compact smartphone in the first place. Especially in a world where display size is king. The Balmuda Phone features a tiny 4.9-inch touchscreen with a 1920×1080 resolution. The phone measures 123x69mm but it’s pretty thick at 13.7mm.
It’s all part of the ergonomic design – the thickness tapers off toward the sides, making the phone very easy to slide into pretty much any pocket. The Balmuda Phone comes equipped with a modest 2,500mAh battery and runs Android 11 on a Snapdragon 765 chipset. What’s even more interesting is the price. This phone costs a whopping ¥104,800, or about $915.
This insane price tag goes to show that the phone is custom-designed and custom-made. The founder of Balmuda, Gen Tarao has a very interesting and romantic story about the inception of the Balmuda Phone, involving being a badass rockstar, that you can read on the official website (using Google Translate if you’re not fluent in Japanese). But there are two practical reasons Tarao san points out that motivated him to make a phone.
“I had two clear reasons to make a smartphone. One of them is that today’s smartphones are too uniform. They all look the same to me, but what about you guys? Freedom of choice that we have by nature. In order to exercise it, you have to have an option in the first place, but for many years I have felt that it is not available. And another reason is that today’s smartphones are too big. I understand that a bigger screen is more convenient, but it’s no longer in my pocket. I don’t think it looks good when I’m using it. If there are two things that you think are strange. Let’s go against the world,” writes Gen Tarao on Balmida’s website.
Tarao san is absolutely right! All smartphones look the same nowadays, and going against the grain is very, very rare. The real sad part? You can’t buy this phone – it’s Japan-only, and won’t be leaving the country of the rising sun. If only there were more phones like this one… Well, except for the price, of course.
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