The HubblePhone is Turing's 'last try' at smartphones
Turing Robotics wants yet another shot at the smartphone market. Despite a few failed phone launches under its belt — and after filing bankruptcy earlier this year — the company has provided Digital Trends with plans for its next smartphone. It’s called the Turing HubblePhone: It has three screens, costs a ridiculous amount of money, and won’t arrive until 2020.
The HubblePhone has what Turing is calling a “multi-dimensional” screen that basically is a primary screen with a secondary display. It can fold up like a flip phone, or swivel out at any angle. It’s tough to explain because we have yet to see any physical prototype of this phone, and all we have to visualize this device are the concept photos below. Along with the display, the phone looks like it has a number of cameras.
There’s one large main sensor at the top of the device, along with an iPhone X-style notch on the pop-out display that we assume is to be used both as a traditional camera, and for facial recognition. Turing said the camera system will allow people to do things like make a call by mouthing the name of the contact.
This dual-screen approach is meant to enable fluid multi-tasking. In an email to Digital Trends, Turing CEO Steve Chao said he thinks people will be multi-tasking more than ever in 2020.
“Suppose I’m in the middle of editing a mobile email and a call came in,” Chao said. “I can simply flip the phone to the rear side of the screen without having to float the caller window. In a laptop mode I can continue to speak on the phone, perhaps via a Bluetooth headset, while continue to edit my email on screen B of upper deck and have my game continuously on main screen of main deck.”
It still sounds a little confusing, and we’ll have to wait to see how this all works if Turing ever manages to produce a prototype.
Courtesy of the HubblePhone website, the device will include one 4K display that covers the entire “main deck,” along with two Full HD displays — one on each side of the “upper deck.” To power all these displays, there are two batteries — one main 3,300mAh battery and one 2,800mAh battery.
The phone is also set to feature a number of cameras. The main camera comes in at a whopping 60 megapixels with a variable aperture of f/2.8 – f/5.6 and up to 15x optical zoom, and there will be three 12 megapixel sensors placed on different parts of the phone.
Turing said the HubblePhone will be powered by two Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processors — one in each deck. The Snapdragon 855 has yet to be announced by Qualcomm, but Turing said it was able to get its hands on Snapdragon 855 reference designs thanks to its close relationship with Foxconn.
Turing has a history of disappointing customers by not keeping promises.”
There are plenty of other vague phrases Turing is marketing for this phone. For example, Turing said the HubblePhone creates a “new dimension in gaming” thanks to the fact that it will integrate AR (augmented reality), VR (virtual reality), MR (mixed reality) and other technologies into a “cohesive experience.” The phone will also support 5G, though we already have smartphone-makers claiming they have 5G-ready phones coming in 2019.
Will the Turing HubblePhone run Android or Sailfish OS? Apparently, both. In an email to Digital Trends, Turing CEO Steve Chao said the “HubblePhone runs Android P and it utilizes Sailfish 3 on the main deck.” He went on to say the phone will run “Keplerian OS,” an open-source operating system built on FreeBSD, as its base OS. By the sound of things, Turing is attempting to create a system that runs Android and has access to all of its apps, while still including Sailfish OS. Will it work? We’ll have to wait and see, but hopefully they’ll be using a newer version of Android by 2020.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
How much will all this vague and futuristic-sounding technology cost? A whopping $2,750. You’ll also have to wait until June 2020 to get the phone in the U.S., and Turing already has plans to ship the phone to Europe that August, China in September 2020, and the rest of the world that December.
A GRAIN OF SALT
Turing has a history of disappointing customers by not keeping promises. The original Turing Phone announced back in 2015 faced significant delays, and before shipping the device Turing swapped the operating system from Android 5.1 Lollipop to Sailfish OS, and then ended up shipping an unfinished version of the phone to customers. Next came the $1,000 Turing Appassionato, but it barely began shipping before the company declared bankruptcy in Finland and ceased production. This time, however, Turing says things will be different.
“This time, we leave the job to the experts, the same ones who produce the iPhone,” Chao continued. “Foxconn has an extensive testing facility fully capable of helping Turing Space Industries obtain FCC, China’s CTA, and other carrier grade certifications. This means the customers will be quite satisfied with the HubblePhone when they receive it.”
So what about funding? According to Chao, Turing is completely funded by him and Turing’s other co-founder, Kevin Wayne. The pair apparently sold 2 million phones for kids in China in 2010 and 2011, then sold the company for $20 million. That’s a lot of money, but it’s not a lot to develop the HubblePhone. That’s partly why Turing is teasing the phone so far in advance. As Steve Chao put it in his email, “the Hubblephone is Turing’s last try at the smartphone space, and we take it quite seriously.”
Only time will tell Turing is taking it serious enough. In the meantime, we wouldn’t put much stock in holding out for the HubblePhone.