My Dream Wrist Phone Is Finally Here Thanks to Motorola’s New Concept

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I envied Futurama’s Leela for many reasons; awesome boots, purple hair, gets paid to ride around on a spaceship. But it’s her wrist-mounted smart device that got the tech nerd in me popping like an excited toddler with a fresh tub of Play-Doh. And finally — finally — that dream is becoming more of a reality with Motorola’s latest concept. In short, it’s a phone that can work as a regular, flat, candy bar-style device but can then bend around your wrist to be worn like some kind of futuristic gauntlet. 

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Watch this: Motorola’s Rollable Concept Phone Wraps on Your Wrist

The company teased its “adaptive display concept” last year, but I got hands — and, indeed, wrists — on with the device at this year’s Mobile World Congress. Here’s how it works: When flat, the phone looks like a regular Android device, but the back of it is covered in fabric (for comfort, you understand). You can use it as any other phone, swiping around and emailing and Instagramming to your heart’s content. But when you’re done with whatever nonsense you get up to, you simply bend the phone around until it forms an arch and you slide that onto your wrist. 

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The phone, when flat.

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

You’ll be wearing a magnetic strap on your wrist already that essentially looks like an Apple Watch’s Milanese Loop strap, but without the actual watch part. The phone magnetically attaches to this to help keep it in place, as the phone doesn’t form a full circle. The phone then should stay in place while you go about your day, acting more like a smartwatch by showing you incoming notifications. Then, when you want it to be a phone again you simply pull it from your wrist, fold it flat again and away you go. Lovely.

Its bending mechanism also allows it to become its own kickstand, allowing it to stand up on a table to make it more convenient for video calls. 

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The phone in stand mode.

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

I was really excited to try it on, and I do find the idea of wearing your phone like this quite appealing. But this is firmly a proof of concept from Motorola, and it’s a long way off becoming a real product, if it ever even does. A lot would have to change before I considered spending what would no doubt be a lot of money on this device.

First, I’d want rid of the magnetic wrist strap, instead finding a way for the phone to bend further around my wrist so as to be wearable in its own right. I’d want it to be slimmer so as to be less intrusive while wearing it, and I’d want to see a lot of software optimizations to really make the most of this unusual form factor. So yes, I’m quite demanding, but it’d need to offer a genuine reason to make it useful over simply having a smartwatch.

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I don’t want to have to wear this magnetic strap.

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

But I don’t have high expectations that we’ll see this kind of product on sale any time soon. Last year, Motorola showed off a different concept phone that featured a screen that almost magically extended upward, out of the phone body, to give a larger viewing space. Again, it was cool as hell to see, but again, not something Motorola has made any commitment to putting on sale.

Whether the wrist phone makes it to the shops remains to be seen.  

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