Your make-up compact may have just replaced the brick as the mobile phone industry’s new design muse. The last few months have seen no less than six new handsets flaunting an unusual square form factor, packed with all the necessities—a camera, Internet browser, apps—a palm-sized smartphone can manage.
Most of these new phones, from Microsoft’s Kin One to Motorola’s upcoming Flipout, are social networking and messaging-centric devices. The square display, along with the Qwerty keypad, arguably provides more efficient on-screen real estate for viewing Facebook walls and Twitter conversations, while avoiding the precarious fragility of lugging around a smartphone. Micromax’s Q55 comes studded with “Swarovski Crystal Elements” and is fittingly subtitled the “Bling”. Nokia calls its X5-01 a “MiniDisc player” masquerading as a cellphone, while Alcatel’s ICE3 takes its design cues from Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance SP.