LG's announcement of the V10 was pretty exciting and the second screen seemed clever. Of course, phone historians know the second screen is something that has been tried many times in the past, it just never caught on.
Just note that we're not talking about flip phones here, which obviously have a second screen on the inside. No, we'll delve into the most unusual screens to grace a phone.
Here's one phone from late 2010 that had a second screen – a 1.8" line display at the bottom to show additional info below the 3.4" main screen. Like the LG V10, this one actually had just one screen, a 4" Super AMOLED, it was just divided into three: 3.4" main screen, Android keys, 1.8" secondary screen.
Here's one that actually had a second display unit. The Motorola Wilder boasted a 2.8" 240 x 320px LCD (it was an entry-level phone) and a 0.7" 96 x 16px secondary display. It showed missed notifications, song info, signal and battery strength. It was not constantly on though, the 910mAh battery just wasn’t enough.
LG isn’t new to this game either. In 2011 it showed the LG Doubleplay – a slider with a QWERTY keyboard that is split by a secondary 2" 480 x 320px display.
This display showed various handy shortcuts (mostly for apps that will benefit from the hardware keyboard). Some apps also show additional controls, e.g. tabs or bookmarks in the browsers. It also aided in multitasking.
The secondary screen doesn’t have to be on the phone. In 2010 Samsung experimented with installing a pico-projector on the Galaxy Beam. It put out 15 lumens of brightness for a screen up to 50" big with 800 x 480px resolution.
It found some success, getting two successors, the last of which came out last year.
I said "no flip phones," but those technically aren’t, not in the usual sense at least. In 2011 Kyocera showed off a dual-screen phone that combined two 3.5" 480 x 800px screens into one 4.7" display... with a pretty huge gap down its middle.
The following year fellow Japan company Sony tried something similar with the Tablet P. It put together two 5.5" 1,024 x 480px screens with a marginally smaller dead space between them, but it wasn’t much better.
Samsung has patented an assembly based on a bendable screen that will use a single screen and eliminate the be mid bezel.
This is hardly a new concept though, in 2008 Polymer Vision announced a phone (never released) that had a 5" display that folds closed. It only managed 16 grey levels, no colors.
Another greyscale screen would prove more practical six years later. The YotaPhone put an e-Ink display – the stuff found on Kindle, B&N, Kobo and other e-book readers – on the back of the phone. This always-on screen would display notifications and other info while drawing basically no power. It had great sunlight legibility too.
YotaPhone has produced several versions, though the company is struggling a bit to enter western market.
While Samsung is yet to produce a consumer-ready screen that can be folded in half, its bendy screens allowed it to create the Galaxy Note Edge. One screen was divided into two – 5.6" QHD main display and a strip on the side that can be on for most of the day.
It would display notifications and other info while the screen is off and multitasking and other controls when the screen is on. Some clever app-specific uses involved putting a virtual shutter key that felt almost like it's on the right side of the phone (not quite, it was at an angle).
We'll finish off this with something unusual, but it could prove the most interesting of the all. It technically does not have a second screen, but its case leaves the top of the screen uncovered. The phone uses that to draw eyes – yes, eyes.
The AKA comes with several different personalities and in a Tamagotchi-like fashion it needs attention from its owner. Why is this interesting? Well, digital assistants are a dime a dozen these days, but even the best of them sound kind of robotic.
Yes, Siri can pull off a few rehearsed jokes, but the LG AKA is the first phone to bring emotions into the mix. People spend enough time talking to their phones as it is, AKA-like phones in the future can be people's best friends – that's the stuff YA dystopian novels are made of.
Did anyone notice Motorola messing up and displaying different time and battery on both screens? :P The phone must have been really slow, not catching up to refresh the clock! Personally I liked the Sony concept. I wish it was revisited, without...
What does those eyes do on LG AKA
how about NEC Medias W N-05e ? It is great idea at that time, and it should have been a greater success if the series can be continued.