Black. White. Blue. Red. Odds are, the back of your smartphone is some monochromatic color you'd find in a beginner Crayola set. Most phone makers took far too long to realize that smartphone colors really matter to consumers, and only recently began wooing them with fancy-sounding hues like canary yellow or coral red.
Small wonder most people don't mind obscuring their phones' rear panels in opaque plastic; at least with cases, you can customize them to give your device a little individuality.
But, the new HONOR 20 Series of phones will make you want to risk going caseless. The HONOR 20 PRO and HONOR 20 are the first ever smartphones to feature a three-dimensional "Dynamic Holographic Design", and their light-refracting exterior may become a new industry standard.
To achieve this shimmering optical illusion, HONOR designed its HONOR 20 with a depth layer containing millions of shimmering, microscopic prisms, and on top of that, a 3D curved glass layer. Combined together, these cause light to dance across the back of your phone as you move it around.
Beneath these dynamic glass layers, you'll find two colors for the HONOR 20: Sapphire Blue and Midnight Black. Unlike the vague buzz words, you'll see in front of some phone colors like "Prism White", descriptors like "Sapphire" and "Midnight" are actually fitting—these phones' color gradients really do evoke the appearance of a shimmering gemstone or a twinkling night sky.
While these color options sound exciting, you can go even a step further with the HONOR 20 PRO. This upgraded model contains a proprietary "Triple 3D Mesh" containing three layers: this time, with a layer of color sandwiched between the inner depth layer and outer 3D layer, instead of just being painted on the back of the phone itself. This reportedly makes the color-shifting effects that much more dynamic.
The HONOR 20 PRO also comes in two colors: Phantom Blue and Phantom Black. While these color names aren't quite as metaphorical, don't let that trick you into thinking that their rear panels are any less dynamic.
"We have adopted the concept of light as a fundamental approach", said HONOR's Chief Design Officer, Joon-Suh Kim. "These colors are created by the best of minds in HONOR."
In fact, these designers and engineers allegedly used Interstellar and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea as inspiration when creating the color layers for Midnight Black and Sapphire Blue, respectively.
HONOR's obsession with choosing the right colors may seem overly dramatic, but in reality, a survey of hundreds of Brits in the UK determined that 49% of them take color into account when choosing which smartphone brand to buy.
Your choice of smartphone is, as Kim put it, "an extension of an individual's life". Selling a phone with a shifting pattern of colors is, in effect, HONOR's way of saying that its customers' identities can't be encompassed by one unchanging color.
The HONOR 20 exhibits the natural evolution of the company's experimentation with dynamic smartphone design. The HONOR 8 started the trend with a 15-layer 2.5D glass back that created a 3D grating effect. From there, the HONOR 9 progressed into actual 3D with the 3D curved glass you'll still find on the HONOR 20. And, last year, the HONOR 10 featured an "Aurora" glass back that reflected colors from every direction.
The company claims that "Always Better" is its driving motto, and that shows in its refusal to follow the industry standard of just making each new phone a little bigger, but with the same coats of paint.
HONOR's design innovations are hardly restricted to color. Look at the HONOR 20's camera layout above. Rather than crop the front display to make room for a "selfie" camera, HONOR instead cut a 4.5mm punch-hole into the top-left of the display, leaving more curved-screen real estate for your swiping needs.
Combine that with HONOR's conscious choice to remove the headphone jack and slide the fingerprint sensor to the edge of the frame, and you're left with a comfortably skinny phone with a nearly bezelless display, making the front the elegant yin to the gaudy yang of the rear.
In back, the HONOR 20's AI Quad Camera is laid out in an L-shape instead of the traditional I-shape—leaving more room inside for a battery with larger storage. Yes, "Quad" does mean the phone has four rear cameras, frontlined by a 48MP main camera that uses a Kirin 980 AI microchip to augment your photos and achieve DSLR-level shots.
Tech-savviness and cutting-edge hardware innovation is what usually brings HONOR products into the spotlight. But in this case, the tech is almost outshined by the design, which may make you never want to go back to mere two-dimensional colors in the future.
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