Why phone makers are experimenting with offbeat colours
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When Neha Menon, risk management lead (north India) at Diageo India, decided to buy a new phone, she chose the Apple iPhone 7 Plus in rose gold. “I did not want the usual black colour, as all my previous phones have been grey or black. The rose-gold shade is aesthetically very pleasing and this phone one looked nice and vibrant,” she says.
Paying greater attention to the colour of the smartphone has become a trend. And the race to make vibrant-coloured phones gained further momentum after Apple launched the (PRODUCT)RED Special Edition iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in March last year.
Colours, like features, follow the changes of the emotions—this is a famous quote by Pablo Picasso, the Spanish painter, sculptor and poet. The colour of the clothes you wear, the car you drive, the bag you carry, all bear the stamp of your personality. “Colours represent our style and liking. With every phone purchase, I try to buy something unique, which makes me stand out from the crowd,” says Abhijit Gupta, a lawyer who currently owns an iPhone X in silver. He adds that the next time he buys an iPhone, he will consider the red option. Gupta says using a coloured case or phone cover is not enough for him. “It makes the phone look cheap and ugly,” he adds.
Analytics company Kissmetrics, which worked on the science of how colours influence buying decisions, suggests that black is popular for luxury products, red signifies energy and increases the heart rate, while blue conveys trust and security. “It’s a hugely personal decision that can be driven by a plethora of reasons. Many people, especially young trendsetters, conform to a specific colour to allow their devices to enjoy a longer fashion life,” says Pranav Shroff, director, global portfolio strategy and planning, HMD Global, the makers of Nokia phones. Kissmetrics suggests that lilac purple, which Samsung selected for the Galaxy S9, has a soothing effect. “We projected that softer colours, such as lilac, would soon become popular. We also wanted to offer a colour that would resonate with both male and female consumers,” says Aditya Babbar, general manager, Samsung India.
Does a phone’s finish, such as plastic, metal or glass, influence its colour selection? “Some materials cannot perform well in a dedicated colour. Like metal anode cannot present well in white, pure black cannot have an elegant feel in glass design. Therefore, the material is one of the priority considerations while taking the colour decision,” says Dinesh Sharma, director, mobile product centre for Asus India. Asus’ forthcoming Zenfone 5 will be available in Midnight Blue and Meteor Silver.“While creating colour themes, we work closely with materials vendors and designers and go through a battery of tests,” says Shroff. HMD Global has just launched the Nokia 1 in warm red and dark blue. It also offers the Nokia 7 Plus in a white and copper combination, and the Nokia 8 in a polished copper option.
But when push comes to shove, would you pass up a phone you like just because your preferred colour isn’t available? “Yes. Colour range does hold importance. I prefer to look for phones which offer more colour options than the usual ones,” says Madhu Agarwal, founder of the Bengaluru-based Madhu’s Boutique. She wouldn’t mind paying a bit extra if she finds a similar phone in the colour she wants.
Gupta disagrees. “If a particular phone suits my needs, and coloured options are not available, I’m ready to make a compromise and settle for whatever is available,” he says, mentioning that he settled for the silver iPhone X though it wasn’t his favourite colour. Features are more important for Menon. “Although having good colour options is a plus, I would say the other technical features would have a higher priority in my mind,” she says, adding that she wouldn’t mind paying a little extra for the colour options if a similar specification phone offered a colour choice.