Are flip phones passé in a post-iPhone world? Chinese telecom company ZTE doesn't think so: their concept for the "Double" phone, which sports solar panels on both sides of its attractive clamshell body, just won a prestigious 2010 Red Dot Design Concept award.
The insight is simple: If cell phone batteries suck, why not put the flip-phone's extra real estate -- especially the part that's waving around untouched in midair when you hold it -- to use powering the device itself? And so what if your hand is covering up half the available solar cells when you're dialing or talking -- it's still better than nothing. The tradeoff is that when the phone is sitting around in standby, you can angle it so that the photovoltaic shell draws in the most life-giving rays possible.
Even better, the Double's full-flex hinge lets you place the phone's 3.2-inch LCD screen in an optimal position for hands-free reading or video-viewing. It's manufactured from recyclable materials and even has a touchscreen interface, so you won't feel left out in a crowd full of glass slabs.
The only thing that stinks about the Double concept, in fact, is that it's just a concept -- who knows if or when ZTE will actually put it into production? Let's hope the Red Dot award lights a fire under their engineers' butts, because I want one of these on Verizon more than I want another half-baked pseudo-iPhone.