At IFA Berlin 2023, Honor unveiled two foldable smartphones. While the former is “just another foldable” meant to compete with the likes of the Galaxy Z Fold 5, the latter is the brand’s attempt at infusing fashion with technology. The Honor V Purse (yes! a smartphone that has the word “purse” in it) is meant to be your next style statement and potentially your most extravagant fashion accessory to date! Now, who would have thought that?
Honor V Purse: Technology Meets Fashion
Honor V Purse is a foldable concept phone from the Chinese smartphone manufacturer Honor, which has been designed with Red Border by TIME Magazine. And well, this collaboration makes sense. With its single outward folding display design, this smartphone is a true embodiment of Red Border’s philosophy of “symbolizing a bold, even arrogant idea.” This design choice is the exact opposite of the “tried and tested” inward foldable display form factor and is reminiscent of 2019’s Huawei Mate X foldable phone.
To make constant use of that readily accessible foldable display, the device will use a plethora of interactive Always On Display (AOD) wallpapers to replicate the look and feel of an actual handbag or purse. Honor is calling it the “phy-digital fashion statement.“ With this implementation, Honor envisions a new you every single day.
When unfolded, you will be able to use this device like a regular folding smartphone. However, the moment you fold it, you can decide to use it as a “bar” phone. In its folded state, you can use many different interchangeable straps and chains that attach to the built-in clasps on the hinge. Moreover, the Honor V Purse foldable phone houses a dual rear-camera system, and it also doubles as a handrest for holding the device.
The entire ensemble is then paired with relevant AOD wallpapers that you can interact with to “breathe in life” into your “smart purse.” And the best part is that these wallpapers work on both sides of the display! So, based on your preference, you can flip the smartphone to your preferred side. Or you can even select two different AOD styles for the two halves of the display and pick the one that best suits your needs.
Some of the highlighting interactive AODs include a furry background that responds to your touch, mimicking the feel of petting an animal. Then, there is the “Phy-gital Purse” that uses the on-device Gyroscope to replicate the movement of trinkets attached to your purse’s cool wallpaper. These “digital trinkets” are symbols that can help you launch apps or specific commands with ease.
For example, the camera trinket when tapped will launch the primary camera, while tapping the chat symbol will take you to the messaging app of your choice. Moreover, there is a Panda or fish icon that will respond to your touch and a chameleon that uses the on-device light sensor to change its color according to your environment.
Not only that; Honor has strategically partnered with top designers with the likes of Burberry menswear design director Bram Van Diepen, contemporary artist Yunuene Esparza, Dean of the China Academy of Art International College Yuan Youmin, and interdisciplinary artist Xiao Hui Wang to bring custom AOD designs and styles to the V Purse.
So yeah, 2023 is indeed an interesting year for foldable smartphones with new key players like Google entering the foldable game and some brands like Honor who are not afraid to break the norms. The Honor V Purse is a testament to the power of collaboration and creative take on something that today, is an inseparable element in our life, even if it is just a concept smartphone. However, no matter how enticing this device seems to be, there are some concerns that I cannot seem to shake off.
Is Honor V Purse Actually a Good Idea?
First of all, the term “Purse” in the name doesn’t mean you can put actual stuff inside this foldable smartphone as you normally would with an actual handbag. And secondly, why would you want to buy an outward folding phone in the first place? While I agree it is an interesting take on “fashionable technology,” it isn’t that practical. Well, not unless and until you have a serious fashion statement to make.
In certain scenarios, though, it might make sense. For example, imagine you are attending a fashion event or you want to show your friends what your fancy new smartphone can do. But the thought of dangling my “super expensive” foldable phone from my shoulders does not sit well with me.
Apart from being an open invitation for purse snatchers, this is not a “safe” way to use your smartphone. What if the strap breaks? What if the display brushes against a rough surface? The fact that the display of the smartphone is constantly exposed and prone to damage takes the practicality of the device’s intended use case right away.
With that being said, in the near future, if Honor decides to make the V Purse commercially available, it will be more of a “novelty” that will cater to enthusiasts more than regular users. In case your urge to blend fashion with technology is too strong, you are better off using a much more “practical” device like the Nothing Phone (2).