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Watch: This cool color-changing phone switches hues on demand

Update: vivo has confirmed that it's behind this leaked color-changing smartphone.

Published onSeptember 3, 2020

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus camera review hero shot
  • A color-changing smartphone is in development, according to new leaks.
  • The phone uses electrochromic glass to change the device’s colorway seemingly on demand.
  • vivo has subsequently confirmed it’s working on this tech.

Update: September 3 2020 (5:40 AM ET): We saw two videos showing a color-changing smartphone a short while ago (view article below), and we suspected that vivo was behind the technology. Now, the BBK-affiliated company has confirmed that it’s indeed working on this.

The firm posted a video to Weibo, confirming that it’s using electrochromic glass to change the color of the smartphone’s back. Furthermore, the clip reveals that the color change is indeed activated with a button press.  It’s also interesting to note that the company covered up the camera housing in this clip, while the original leak showed off the rear cameras. Check it out below.

A machine-translated excerpt of the post also suggests that it was designed with reduced power consumption in mind. So hopefully battery life isn’t affected in a big way by having this feature enabled.

Original article: September 3 2020 (4:36 AM ET): Color-bending pearlescent finishes hit smartphone design in a big way in recent years, especially noticeable on Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10 range, but a new implementation of a common technology could give users the power to change colorways on demand.

Per a brief Weibo video posted by tipster Digital Chat Station, color-changing smartphones may not be that distant of a concept. The tipster details a device with an electrochromic glass backplate, a color-morphing material that uses changes in voltage to tweak its color. Check the clip out below.

The concept on display wears a sapphire blue sheen when its user’s thumb is touching its flank but changes to a silvery-white when the thumb is removed. Another video posted to Twitter by Ice Universe suggests a button press activates the process.

A mobile phone brand is developing a mobile phone with a discoloration rear case, which can adjust the speed of discoloration. Maybe the smart phone will only have one color in the future: discoloration
— Ice universe (@UniverseIce) September 3, 2020

Neither tipsters revealed the company behind the device. While the rear camera array is hidden in the Ice Universe clip, the exposed cameras in Digital Chat Station’s video does resemble a similar design used by recent vivo phones. Of course, this could also be a dummy design used by another firm entirely.

Electrochromic glass isn’t a new concept. It’s been used on aircraft, luxury cars, and in hotels as a smart replacement for curtains, but its potential to morph smartphone colorways is an exciting prospect. The tech doesn’t quite seem to have chameleon-like properties just yet, so future buyers may be limited to just two colors.

There are practical implementations, too. It was employed on the OnePlus Concept One to hide the three rear cameras when not in use, and to act as a filter for the lens itself. This would give photographers more control in bright environments.

That said, the technology is expensive and would add another layer of complexity and expense to modern smartphones. Still, it would be a pretty cool party trick. But what do you think? Vote in our poll below and be sure to leave a comment with your thoughts.

Color-changing phones: Hot or not?

242 votes
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