As promised, in the framework of the MWC 2019 exhibition held in Barcelona these days, Nubia, which is a division of the Chinese ZTE, presented a commercial version of a very unusual device with a bending screen called Nubia Alpha. Recall, for the first time, we saw the Nubia Alpha as a prototype at the IFA exhibition in August last year. Then, introducing Nubia Alpha, the manufacturer, without undue modesty, described the novelty as “the most technically perfect wearable smartphone in the world”, which could become “the future of the mobile gadget industry”. And now we have before us the serial model.
Although the manufacturer itself calls the novelty a “wearable smartphone”, in fact, Nubia Alpha is closer to smartwatches than smartphones. And outwardly, the novelty resembles a watch that turned inside out, sticking a flexible screen onto the reverse side. Moreover, the hardware basis of the watch is the rather old SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100, released in 2016, and not the new Snapdragon Wear 3100, introduced last fall. The amount of RAM is very modest by modern standards of 1 GB, and the built-in flash memory provides only 8 GB (as the manufacturer notes, it is enough to store 1000 tracks).
Nubia Alpha is equipped with a very narrow and very elongated flexible screen produced by Visionox. The OLED touchpad is characterized by a diagonal of 4 inches and an aspect ratio of 36: 9 (960×192 pixels). The display has a special protective coating (heat-resistant polyimide).
The battery capacity is 500 mAh, which, according to the manufacturer, should be enough for one or two days of autonomy, depending on the model of use. That is, the autonomy of the Nubia Alpha is fully consistent with the performance of most smartwatches. There is a 5-megapixel camera on the square-shaped case, where the entire element base is located, which will allow you to take selfies and record video clips by a long press on the screen.
Nubia Alpha will have two versions: more accessible with support for only Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, as well as a version with eSIM (built-in SIM-card), providing both data transfer and voice communication in 4G LTE networks.
The OS is Nubia’s own platform, adapted to the screens of this form factor. You can control the Nubia Alpha interface using voice commands, ordinary gestures using the touch screen and waving without touching the screen. That is, Nubia Alpha also received motion capture technology.
Nubia Alpha are protected from moisture, so that with the device you can easily swim in the pool or take a shower. They are also equipped with some features of fitness trackers, they can track heart rate, sleep phases and various indicators of physical activity.
In addition to the usual black design option, the Nubia Alpha will also have a real gold version (only the version with eSIM), covered with 18-carat gold (the case itself is made of stainless steel).
In China, Nubia Alpha will begin to be sold in April, in the third quarter, the device can be bought in Europe, and in the fourth quarter in the United States. The Nubia Alpha version with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi will be offered for 450 euros, and the version with eSIM – 550 and 650 euros for the black and gold versions, respectively.
Honestly, the device looks very strange. It will certainly find its buyer, but there are hardly many people willing to buy a novelty, given the relatively high price and a highly controversial bulky design. Just imagine how convenient it will be to type text on this screen, not to mention the interaction with applications, which obviously will be few, given that the software platform here is not the Google Wear OS, but its own. That is, in fact it turns out that the Nubia Alpha is an overvalued smart watch with limited capabilities, but with a flexible screen. Yes, it is quite obvious that due to the protruding block, this watch will not fit snugly to the wrist, but will hang on the arm.