Product Design I Performance and Manufacturing Engineering I Production Liaison
Android was becoming the fastest growing phone OS by the time of release of Donut (Late 2009). Most Android smart phones came with their own custom interfaces and device styles, creating visual clutter and a paradox of choice for customers. Most cellphones came in the 3.5” size, with the outsize Dell Streak at 5”. We worked with the product strategy team of a $90Bn sales company to create the Eclair smart phone that would have a 4.2” screen, run stock Android, and come equipped with a 8MP camera with a Xenon Flash, and have both MicroUSB and mHDMI connectors. Such a media centric configuration was earlier available only in Nokia’s famed N-Series Symbian phones.
Another problem we solved was that of weight. With the increase in size, we wanted the Eclair to be lighter than other smart phones. From the ground up, the we made a stack up considering a plastic frame for the display as opposed to stamped stainless steel. As a result, the eclair smart phone would be lighter, and error free in insert moulding. We also used this created a new phone typology by moving shut lines from the side to the front and back of the cellphone.
For the first time, a phone was designed such that the display visible area was symmetric all sides, and the back was flat as well, except for the raised portion to account for the large camera and flash. The 10mm thickness needed us to work with specialty plastic material companies to achieve both a compelling stack-up and a robust design. Several layers of coating were used to create the gloss black Zen effect. The device design is Quiet. Among our inspirations was the Brionvega Black 201 from 1969, a design so quiet that it did not announce itself until the screen was turned on. The quiet elegance made for a timeless design.