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Whatever happened to the other mobile form factors?

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The mobile handset market offers everyone a plethora of options to choose from. For every price range there are, at a minimum, half a dozen good handsets to choose from. Due to the consolidation in the mobile OS space, everyone is on equal footing with respect to the apps available. So the differentiator should be the hardware right? Wrong! Every handset maker plays the same spec-numbers game, a few go for superior build quality or balance between the specifications and battery. But nobody releases phones that are not a candy-bar form factor. Whatever happened to experimenting with the swivel, slide or flip phones?

Turn back the clock by a decade or so. The Moto Razr flip phone was the talk of the town. It was exceptional hardware coupled with mediocre software. But then everybody's software was mediocre. It was by far the coolest phone of its time, perhaps of all time. Every thing about its design seemed aesthetically pleasing. The colors, the blue hue keypad, even the flip screws. Now-a-days, phone manufacturers who pay attention to build quality make solid phones, but they hardly ever look cool. Well built - sure, even flashy with those (awful) gold bars, but not cool.

Or take the Motorola Aura swivel phone, another head turner. Even Nokia, who made the most well built handsets but rarely pretty, always made bold moves with its Communicator lines. The Nokia 900 was the pinnacle of a sliding keyboard form factor. Around the same time Motorola did the same with the Milestone. A lot of these phones were mediocre in other aspects. But then a lot of phones are mediocre in a lot of aspects even today. Somebody can surely try something other than candy bars now. Hey, it might just turn out to be cool.

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