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The future of smartphones: no ports and no buttons



4 minute read

Smartphones have come a long way haven’t they? If you think back to the first one you had, you probably picture a bulky body, a small touch-screen display, a headphone jack, a few ports and buttons and generally quite a simple design, right? Fast forward to today and you’ve got a super slim body, a large, high-definition display, no headphone jack on a lot of models and still some ports. It’s probably fair to say that the changes from then to now have been positive but not everyone likes change.

Remember when Apple first announced the iPhone 7 with no headphone jack? It was one of their most controversial changes but to them it was “courageous”. I agree that it was and soon enough we had other smartphone makers follow suit. However, losing the headphone jack is just one thing, losing all ports and buttons is something of a whole other level.

Meizu Zero

Meizu have developed a smartphone in its purest form, with it being an all-glass ceramic body sitting in your palm. It’s completely hole-less, with no ports, no buttons and not even any speaker grilles. So how would you charge it, you ask? Where would you put your SIM card? Well, this is where we take a walk on future lane. But first, take a quick peak at the Meizu Zero.

Cutting the cords with wireless charging

You see, technology is rapidly developing and we’re quickly adapting to new changes. Wireless charging is one of them and is a feature being introduced in all new smartphones that are being released. So, that probably answers your first question.

Meizu claim to have implemented the world’s fastest wireless charging capability in the Zero, which offers 18W wireless charging power thanks to its support of the proprietary Super mCharge Wireless technology. This charging output is much better than what the likes of Apple and Samsung currently offer, so it sounds promising. Who needs wired charging? Wireless is the future.

The downside of no charging port means that transferring media from your smartphone to your laptop or other device will have to be done via WiFi or mobile data. 4G is very fast these days, in most areas, and 5G is not too far away so it’s probably only going to be an issue for a minority.

No buttons and no ports
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No need for a card with eSIM technology

We’re all used to inserting a SIM card into our smartphones but as we make our way into the future, we certainly will not be looking back at physical SIM cards.

What is meant by eSIM?

eSIM essentially means ‘embedded SIM’. It works similar to the NFC in smartphones that is used for things like Apple Pay and Google Pay. Only a select few network providers support eSIM at the moment but I have no doubts that it will be widely supported very soon. With eSIM, you can change plans easily and don’t have to worry about swapping out a physical SIM card. I personally would really appreciate this because having to use the SIM pin eject tool is not convenient when you’re out and about. So, don’t worry about the lack of the SIM card slot because you will not need it, in the future anyway.

Hello virtual buttons

The lack of buttons isn’t entirely a new concept as some smartphone makers have already introduced on-screen buttons, such as Sony with their Sony Xperia XZ3. The difference? The Meizu Zero will literally have no buttons, meaning the volume and home buttons will all be virtual with haptic feedback, so you’ll feel it.

virtual buttons
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Going port-less and button-less. Is it the future of smartphone design?

By going button-less and port-less, we’re essentially looking at a clean looking, minimal and all-screen design. The future of smartphones? I think so. I believe it’s a vision people have envisioned and the Zero brings that to reality.

The world may not yet be ready for a port-less, button-less smartphone but all changes require time to get used to them. We’re already getting super-slim smartphones, so removing buttons and ports next makes sense. Ask Apple or just take a look at their MacBook Pro models; you’ll find nothing but a couple of USB-C ports and an incredibly slim body. We’re definitely far from port-less computers but I do see it happening for smartphones in the near future.

Could you envision yourself using a port-less, button-less smartphone?

Written by shadylady

Sadia produces tech reviews, tech tips & tutorial videos at XALIRATE.