Mobile Special: The Soft Phone

Imagine a phone made from cotton. Soft, pliable, and light yet never compromising on power or performance. The Soft Phone concept by designer Qian Jiang takes what we know about electronic cellulose structures and squeezes every last ounce of performance out of it, literally!

It’s a series of discs with electronic fabric stretched in between. The interface uses a combination of tactile gestures like squeezing to hang-up and touch which detects a deformation on the surface to register input. The fibers are fine enough and optically clear allowing light energy to pass thru to display simple contextual menus. Whenever you need a full QWERTY just unfurl the collapsible structure. The cell antenna, battery, camera, and micro electronics are contained inside a tiny clip which itself is made of soft, squeezable, stress-reducing silica.

One thing this phone concept did do away with is a receiver because didn’t you know people in the future only use hands-free wireless technologies? Pffft!

Designer: Qian Jiang

Exclusive update on the New iPhone (iPhone HD) with a front-facing camera!

You heard right, folks — according to the Wall Street Journal, Apple is currently “developing a new iPhone to debut this summer,” and as if that weren’t enough, it’s also “working on another model for US mobile phone operator Verizon Wireless.” As of this moment, details about the break are nowhere to be found, but it’s not like either tidbit is shocking. This summer will mark the one-year anniversary of the iPhone 3GS, and if the Cupertino-based company keeps with its historical refresh pattern, we’re just a few months out from seeing the latest and greatest iPhone. There’s also been no shortage of iPhone-to-Verizon rumors over the years, with the latest of ’em happening during the run-up to the iPad’s launch.

Update: We’re now learning that the “next iPhone is being manufactured by Taiwanese contract manufacturer Hon Hai Precision Industry,” which just so happens to be the same outfit responsible for crafting all prior iPhones. That’s according to “people briefed on the matter” and sourced by the WSJ. It’s also stated that the world’s first CDMA iPhone will be manufactured by Pegatron Technology, which we caught just last week dabbling in some of NVIDIA’s Tegra 2-based wares. If all goes well, Pegatron could begin mass production of the CDMA iPhone (exact model not disclosed) this September, so it’s hard to say if Sprint or Verizon would have access before the all-too-lucrative holiday season. As for quotes on the matter? Most everyone involved wouldn’t say a word, but an AT&T spokesman did utter the following: “There has been lots of incorrect speculation on CDMA iPhones for a long time. We haven’t seen one yet and only Apple knows when that might occur.”

On a week that couldn’t possibly get any bigger for Apple, that’s exactly what just happened. Everyone suspected that a fourth-generation iPhone was in the works, but having an outlet like the WSJ confirm it just makes the summer that much harder to wait for. There’s also the possibility that 2010 will be the final year that AT&T retains its death-grip on the iPhone, but by the sound of this report, it still seems as if the nation’s largest GSM carrier may nab exclusive rights on the latest iPhone. I also can’t help but wonder about the future of a true 4G iPhone — will Sprint manage to grab a WiMAX-enabled version? Will Verizon get its grubby paws on an LTE model? I figured only Jobs would know, but now… there might just be someone else out there willing to spill the beans.

Update 2: Soon after the news broke, I was informed that the next-generation iPhone would be announced on June 22nd (a Tuesday, naturally) and would be dubbed the iPhone HD (a name that has been tossed around before). That certainly makes sense given that Apple almost certainly has to up the pixel count in order to rival the EVO 4G, HD2 and all of those other high-res handsets, but we’re still reserving judgment until we see that fateful media invite hit our inbox.

Update 3: John Gruber’s just weighed in with some more tidbits, in his characteristically polite way. Gruber says the next model will have an A4-class SoC, a 960 x 640 display, a front-facing camera, and that iPhone OS 4.0 will enable third-party multitasking. A pretty safe set of predictions, in all, but Gruber’s done pretty well in the past, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

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