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Top 5 smartphone gimmicks that didn’t catch on

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Making your smartphone stand out from the crowd is a challenge all mobile-makers face. Especially those who don’t have the same clout as the likes of Apple and Samsung.

Often this means loading a phone up with a ‘revolutionary’ and ‘unique’ feature that in truth is just a gimmick.

With word that Google’s new Pixel 2 will be utilising the same ‘squeezable’ frame as HTC’s U11, here's our selection of the top five smartphone gimmicks that didn’t catch on.

1 LG’s G5 modules

lg g5 modular

LG’s innovations in recent years, including dual lens cameras and a move towards narrower screens, have found their way into rival devices.

But 2016’s G5 tried a bit too hard to get ahead of the game.

The phone itself was excellent, but LG’s range of modular ‘friends’ that could be plugged into the handset felt, ahem, tacked-on.

These included a B&O speaker and a beefed up camera offering physical controls and a proper shutter button.

Obviously, these never took off, with LG seemingly forgetting that average smartphone users want everything in one single package.

2 Samsung’s Smart Scroll

Iris scanning is fast becoming an essential component of top–end smartphones.

Both Apple’s iPhone 8 and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 are set to feature the cutting edge tech.

But with 2013’s Galaxy S4, Samsung’s tried something wholly different with eyeball tracking tech: Smart Scroll.

The concept seems hilarious now – users tilt their heads up and down in order to scroll through web pages, emails and messages.

The unavoidable fact is that scrolling using your hand is much easier. So Smart Scroll was doomed to fail.

3 Amazon Fire Phone’s Dynamic Perspective

Amazon’s Fire Phone was an unmitigated disaster for the retail giant.

Hefty, clunky and running a naff version of Android, it never caught on. Of its many poorly thought out features, Dynamic Perspective was perhaps the worst.

Utilising cameras on all four corners of the front of the phone, its aim was to provide a realistic, 3D–style look at objects on the screen.

In fact, it was an extraneous feature that felt every inch a gimmick.

4 HTC U11’s squeezable ‘Edge Sense’ frame

The HTC U11 might only be a few months old. But its squeezable frame already fits neatly into the gimmick category.

Solving an issue that isn’t there, the phone allows users to squeeze the outer frame to do everything from liking statuses in Facebook to zooming in on Google Maps.

HTC is set to bring the tech to the Google Pixel 2, rebranded as ‘Active Edge’ and allowing swift access to Google Assistant.

While this feature might seem clever, it doesn’t get around the fact that the best way to interact with a smartphone is to use its touchscreen.

Anything else feels like needless bells and whistles.

5 Alcatel A5's disco lights

alcatel a5

Alcatel's latest phone is a pretty solid effort. But someone somewhere thought the A5 needed a bit of help to make a splash.

For that reason, it was equipped with a flashing LED rear panel. And in truth, it's pretty mesmerising to watch when you first see it.

But after a while, the gently undulating lights are pretty distracting. And if you're in a testy mood, they're actually a bit annoying.

Category: Features
Tagged: smartphones
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