This year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) was testament to the fact that smartphone makers have gotten more experimental with their devices. We saw Huawei foldable Mate X, a slew of 5G phone, Sony’s 21:9 aspect ratio screen phone as well as LG’s dual display phone with a clip-on display option.
Another such phone is Nubia Alpha, a flexible display wearable phone that can be worn on your wrist. It also doubles up as a fitness tracker with options to count steps, view calories burned, and track heart rate. The wearable phone will be available in Bluetooth and e-SIM variants.
At the mobile show, we got a chance to try out the Nubia Alpha. The first thing that you will notice is its striking design. The phone is a bit bulky, looks straight out of a sci-fi movie of 90s. The body is made of stainless steel and in addition to a black colour options, it is available in gold colour variant as well.
Frankly, it was quite large for my wrists and I feel the design is more suited for men. The 4-inch OLED screen is narrow and runs vertically along almost more than half of the wrist area. You can also drag content to the right, top or left side of the display to better suit the angle from which you are looking at the Alpha from.
You can either use the touch to browse through content or there is a gesture control feature, which I found interesting. In the limited time we tried gesture control, the experience was not quite smooth as it did not work very accurately. After a couple of attempts, I was finally able to swipe my hand left to right or top to bottom to browse, menu and other apps on the Nubia Alpha.
The phone itself has two large physical buttons on the side, one to go back and the other is a power button, just like a lot of smartwatches in the market. On the other side is the microphone to take calls. There is also a 5MP front camera lens on top, besides the display capable of taking decent selfies.
The idea with Nubia Alpha is to bring the convenience of a smartphone on your wrist, but is it really convenient? That question remains even if we forget about the style quotient. More functionalities such as mobile payments with AliExpress and messaging with WeChat are included as well. There is also the option of watching videos, something I am sure I will never enjoy on a screen so narrow.
In reality, Nubia Alpha seems more like a smartwatch like Apple Watch Series 4, but with a different kind of a display and a more bulky design. It just does not feel like a complete smartphone yet, but something you would use with your phone.
It runs an older Snapdragon Wear 2100 chip coupled with 1GB RAM and 8GB storage. The battery is 500mAh battery, said to last up to two days on a single charge.
The Nubia Alpha Bluetooth variant, which will be available in Europe and North America at a price of 449 euros seems quite expensive. The eSIM version goes on sale in these market at 549 euros and will be available in the third quarter of this year. The 18K gold variant will cost 649 euros.