Mechanical camera sliders are the coolest terrible idea of 2018

Find X and Vivo & # 39; s Nex by Oppo are the two most recent and exciting Android devices of the year. Why exciting? Well, we approach the dream of a truly bezelless phone, and they do it in a dramatic style. Instead of putting a notched area on top of the screen, both phones come from China and provide us with self-contained camera modules. Live is like a miniature periscope, while Oppo lifts the entire top of the phone.

Just take a second to appreciate the fluid synchronicity between on-screen animation when unlocking the Oppo Find X and the physical elevation of its slider. It's a matter of beauty, hardware engineering meets software design in a harmonious moment of "whoa":



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There is not a soul among The staff of Verge who was not impressed by this spectacular movement. The jaded and bearded veterans of the consumer technology industry were surprised and amused by the ingenious mechanics of this new Oppo phone. As a masterpiece, as a touch of glamor of the brand, or a thing to show off to your friends, the Oppo Find X is an instant winner. When it arrives at the store shelves, it will also be an easier sale for the shop assistants who can slide carelessly to unlock the device and then wait for the inevitable reaction of the "possible happened" of the prospective buyer.

If this was the World Cup, Oppo's Find X would be a pirouette of Lionel Messi beyond three defenders, except that he would go backwards instead of forward. Adding mechanical parts to telephones is a retrograde maneuver, which, honestly, creates many more problems than it solves. As a solution to the problem of the notch, especially, it is the equivalent of using a mallet to break a nut.





Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

What about the mechanical sliders? I'm glad you asked. The problems are multiple. First, modern smart phones offer varying degrees of water resistance, but when you open the entrails of the phone like Find X does, you lose that peace of mind. With glass on both the front and back: as Oppo uses on this phone and practically every other flagship smartphone is moving to most people will want to put a case around their device, and control Sliding makes it complicated, if not completely impossible. Dust, lint, sweat and all kinds of other undesirable particles can enter the sliding module. Ideally, it will not open the Find X in your pocket, but accidents do occur, and I imagine that if you release this phone with the slider of the open camera, it will be less structurally rigid than a full-body one.

Then there is the biggest problem for me, my camera lover: with the front and rear cameras hidden behind the screen and inside the back cover of the phone, there is barely room to include a high quality camera set. The reason why the iPhone X and most of its best rivals have bumps in the camera is simple physics: the best imaging equipment requires depth to fit a variety of lenses. Without wanting to sound too cynical, my expectations about the Oppo Find X cameras are not very high.



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There are two other factors that weigh against the use of any mechanical component in the modern design of a phone. One is energy consumption: activating that emergent and emerging movement can be great as hell, but it has an associated energy cost. And since there is no fingerprint sensor in the Oppo Find X, you're going to use the selfie camera for identifying the face a lot over the course of a normal day. And the final issue is simple reliability. As designer Philippe Starck pointed out in 2009, when he was interviewed about the Nokia N97 QWERTY slider, every time he adds a mechanical component, no matter how good or impressive it is, you are making your product less durable. Apple has had the mission to eliminate all its mechanical buttons, both iPhones and MacBooks, while HTC has even come to replace the side buttons of your U12 Plus with tactile tactile feedback keys.

I completely recognize the fun and superficial appeal of the Oppo Find X slider. It exhibits a cohesive design that Vivo Nex and other phones are not even close to, and instantly adds a degree of character and uniqueness in a highly Android flagship market. competitive but also homogeneous. I do not underestimate the tactile appeal of a mechanical part that moves in unison with the whims of the user, nor do I think the peace of mind that knowing all your cameras are covered is unimportant.

And still, I still see this as the past rather than the future of mobile technology. The smartphone is defined by its convergence of various tools and devices, by its reduction of what is necessary, rather than its expansiveness. I think Oppo's goal was to impress us and to arouse worldwide attention for their products, which is why Find X is so radically different. It is a fantastic engineering showcase for a company with ambitions beyond its native Chinese market. The slider on the phone's camera is also a great replica for anyone clinging to the outdated accusation that Android device makers only copy the iPhone. But it's not going to change the world or even the way the phones are designed. It's just a bad idea that runs well.