One of the things I love about TCL is its willingness to show off internal conceptual designs to the press. It’s something we see in the car industry all the time, however it’s quite rare in the consumer technology space AnandTech operates in. This year TCL had a couple of demos for us: a seamless smartphone unibody design, and a unique display that redefines what ‘edge’ really means.

TCL One Piece: The Monkey D. Luffy of Smartphones

Unless you’re eating too much Gum Gum fruit, TCL’s singular unibody One Piece design is quite something to behold. The demo the company presented to us was a smartphone with no visible buttons and no visible holes – a complete device designed to be ingress-free. There are no speaker vents, no charger cable, no headphone jack, no fingerprint sensor, no power button, no volume buttons.

These are all ‘solveable’ items to TCL. The screen can become the speaker, the device can be wirelessly charged only, the fingerprint sensor can be under the screen, the screen can be turned on by a double tap, and the volume can be controlled in the UI. If the rear camears are flush with the rear, it feels seamless. It’s the first smartphone-like device that actually is!

So this is just a technology demo, a showcase. The device on hand isn’t coming to market as is, TCL just wanted to show us that they can think of ideas like this and execute. TCL stated that ultimately this sort of idea is more likely to come to a wearable like technology than a smartphone, but it indicates something that they are investigating.

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  • Santoval - Thursday, September 05, 2019 - link

    Quite impressive.. I believe everything but the lack of a charging port is market feasible. The problem with wireless charging is that it's inherently inefficient and wasteful, with much longer charging times. It's nice as a backup charging option but not when it's the *only* charging option. Reply
  • PeachNCream - Thursday, September 05, 2019 - link

    The solution to that could be to surface mount some metal on the outside and the magnetically attach a charging connector, but I don't know if that then counts as a hole or not.

    I'd still prefer a removable battery and a microsd slot and would accept a removable back panel to attain those things.
    Reply
  • Zoolook - Sunday, September 08, 2019 - link

    Sony had something similar on the Xperia Z-series Reply
  • eek2121 - Saturday, September 07, 2019 - link

    Inefficient? Probably. However, as someone who charges his phones wirelessly, I disagree with your second point regarding charge times. It may be a bit slower than charging with a cable, but my phone typically goes from 0% to 100% in a couple hours. Given that the battery lasts for a good 2-3 days, I just put it on the charger when I go to bed every other night. Reply
  • CaedenV - Thursday, September 05, 2019 - link

    I came to make a OnePiece joke, and Ian beat me to it! Fantastic!

    I like this idea of a no-ingress phone though. No moving parts, nothing to break or wear out unless you drop the thing and break the glass. I would like some sort of wifi-direct feature or something for moving large files to a laptop though. I mean, if you are going to take away the headphone jack... go all the way!
    Reply
  • edzieba - Friday, September 06, 2019 - link

    I'm not sure how happy I'd be without at least a discrete physical power button (for "just F$£#!^g turn off!" situations), but that can remain compatible with the fully sealed nature using a magnetic button and hall sensor (as is common with other waterproof devices like SCUBA torches). Reply
  • CityBlue - Friday, September 06, 2019 - link

    It will be interesting to see how they implement a means of hard resetting the device (once it has locked up solid) if there isn't a power button that can be held down for several seconds, and the battery isn't removable. Maybe they could do something via the Qi interface, and/or NFC.

    Also, there's no mention in the article of "no microphone" so that might be their biggest challenge and explain why this is aimed more at wearable tech than smartphones.
    Reply
  • GreenReaper - Sunday, September 08, 2019 - link

    If they can use the surface as a speaker, it can be a microphone. It's the same thing, but
    reversed!
    Reply

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