Designing the perfect Fashion Smartphone

Designing the perfect Fashion Smartphone

Let’s just get one thing straight, Fashion and Technology don’t mix well. It’s not that they can’t blend well, it’s just that they don’t. They never really have, and I’m hoping that does change in the (near) future, for everyone’s benefit. Fashion Brands have tried to expand into the booming Technology Sector for years without ‘much’ success because their products are a generation behind, and no one wants that, especially when you add a certain price tag on for the logo.

Fashion Brands have been in the phone market for some time, and they have also recently hit the Tablet market. Each time we’ve been left with a potentially great product that always disappoints in some way or another. We don’t want that so I hope fashion brands are taking note here. Each time we’ve been hit by wave after wave of overpriced disappointments, and it really shouldn’t be like this especially since Brands have a reputation to protect.

Below we’ve started a little guide we hope Fashion Companies and Brands will follow in order to create the basic phone. Some of it is obviously wishful thinking as you’ll see below, but it’s what we think will help create the perfect Fashionable Phone that people actually want, despite the cost.

The Brand

For the purpose of this guide, we’ll be using my favorite brand – Giorgio Armani. Anyone who knows me even remotely knows that I’m completely obsessed with this brand, and I end up going and spending quite a bit of my money in Armani. Therefore I have firsthand knowledge of the brand, and I’m even in charge of the Giorgio Armani Group on Facebook which has over 10,000 people (although I don’t think I’ve used it for much in a year).

Armani is a brand that oozes style, and in a classy way too. People often complain fashion brands are overpriced, but not in Armani’s case as you pay for what you get – Quality. My Giorgio Armani Wallet might have cost me half my life savings, but you can be sure that I’ll probably be using it for the next 20 years because of well it’s built and stitched. Getting back on topic, Armani have made 4 attempts in the phone market, 3 with Giorgio Armani and 1 with Emporio Armani.

 samsung-armani-p520The first Armani Phone (P520), which I sadly made the mistake of buying because I was mesmerized by its sexiness. Small, compact and remarkably thin for 2007, it was literally a fat Credit Card (exact same size). It was easy to carry and people were drawn to the phone where ever I went, and let’s not forget it was extremely well built with quality materials and with a color scheme that worked. (It was also the first phone I ever tried with filly integrated haptic feedback within in)

The Problem? It had an extremely boring OS, an Armani’fied version (Armani Croix) of Samsung’s current OS (Samsung of course made the phone). It was underpowered and while it had plenty of Armani Media installed on it, it was generally much too underpowered. Not a smartphone at all, but certainly a sexy one. No games either and everyone loves games, even the mighty rich.

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What the hell is this Mr. Armani? Who sanctioned this? The second Armani phone, branded with Emporio Armani and also made by Samsung was pretty poor. It didn’t look nice, nor did it resemble a smartphone or a phone worthy of buying. It was a dumb phone in all its glory, with tacky side lights in different colors. When I saw this in Dubai, I nearly fainted from how terrible it was.

This was a poor attempt, and we hope Armani never fall this low again, for their sake, not ours. Just shocking.

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The latest Armani phone to hit the market, once again made by Samsung and it was certainly a step up from the last version. This model is still being sold since it was only released in late 2009. In fairness, the specs were actually quite good – a 3.5-inch AMOLED Screen, a 5 megapixel camera, 8GB of internal storage, a GPS Chip and a SD Card slot. The only problem? It ran Windows Mobile 6.5. Ouch. While it looked nice, Windows Mobile held it back, and it was priced much too high. And the keyboard just made it fat. Fashion phones should never be fat (16.4 mm in thickness). However this was as close as they came to a smartphone, although we wouldn’t quite consider Windows Mobile smart, at least now thanks to Windows Phone.

Still good effort Armani, but you can certainly do better.

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There was also another phone called the Giorgio Armani Galaxy S GT-i9010. All we know is that even as of December 2010 when I saw it in Rome in an Armani store, it was priced much too high. At least they stepped it up and ran Android (2.2 Froyo) on it.

But it really didn’t shout Fashion to us, despite the Giorgio Armani Branding on top. It wasn’t a disappointing phone, it just felt lazy (it was the AT&T Captivate just rebranded). Fairly thin at 10mm, and it did have a Super AMOLED screen, but that was it.

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The Formula

The Perfect Formula for the Perfect Fashion Smartphone should be as follows (in no particular order):

  • Thickness – We want a thin phone like the first Giorgio Armani (GA) phone.
  • Good OS – A Good Operating System is most certainly the key here, more on this below (email, sms, web browsing etc. comes with this territory).
  • Manufacturer – A quality Manufacturer who is well known for making good phones (ie: you don’t want a company like ZTE making Armani phones, not that there’s anything wrong with them, but their market is completely different and they’re unknown in the western market).
  • Looks – An Armani phone should always be sleek, have a good color selection like the first GA phone.
  • Quality – A Fashionable phone should always be have a good build quality, and adding a dash of leather on the back never hurts.
  • Screen – A nice screen would always be preferable, Super AMOLED plus would be nice (or something equivalent), and a decent screen size.
  • Functionality – Good Battery life (comes with Phone and OS too), easy to use phone, good battery life, good call performance, etc.
  • That X Factor – That X Factor that makes people yearn for this phone. In this case Giorgio Armani branding might be enough, but maybe not for everyone.

This list could work for any other phone manufacturer looking to make a quality phone (you can thank us with a free phone 😉 ). So let’s go down the list shall we?

Thin:

Everyone knows that slim is sexy, and in the mobile market, that’s no exception. We’d expect an Armani phone to be slimmer than 10 millimeters, which seems to be the norm in 2011, so it shouldn’t be a problem.

As you can clearly see, we’ve decided that the future Giorgio Armani Phone should be 9 millimeters, which is even thinner than the current iPhone 4. There are plenty of phones around this thickness that are extremely powerful so it shouldn’t be a problem in this aspect. The thinness would also be appreciated.

Operating System:

Frankly there are only two Operating System’s that we can fathom going with (or that will be possible) – Android or Windows Phone. Considering Windows Phone is flashier and all Windows Phones have better battery life than Android phones, we’re going to have to give a slight edge to Windows Phone on this one. The beauty of it is that Microsoft and Armani have actually worked together on a phone, so they should be no stranger to one another. And make no mistake about it, Windows Phone (especially with Mango) is a Flashy, Innovative and fresh OS, that functions extremely well.

The only problem here might be the restrictions Microsoft places with its Manufacturers from changing anything in the Windows Phone 7 OS. However, we’re sure that Microsoft will be willing to make an exception here for a one time deal where it would see Armani working with Microsoft once again to change the phone in small ways such as – A Giorgio Armani startup screen instead of the current Windows Phone one, a new color in the themes options called Armani, and a whole bunch of Armani Media pre-loaded onto the phone (but not like bloatware, more like videos and certain apps). The rest of the phone can function like it usually does, and there can be a Giorgio Armani Logo brand on the top as well. A fashion brand (and a well known one at that) wanting to use Microsoft latest OS would certainly be a win for them. It’s not like the people buying this generally will care about the fact they got Windows Phone over Android, but Windows Phone is a much easier OS to get into, so we feel they’ll be extremely happy with this choice.

Windows Phones have a great Operating System, excellent battery life, and it performs very well in day to day activities. It’s the full package (assuming it will have Mango, which it will).

Manufacturer

 Armani and Samsung have a long relationship that goes back at least 4.5/5 years, so we guess Samsung could work again. Samsung also made an Armani TV and while it was too expensive and a little too fat, it still screamed sophistication. We want to take these two companies back to their early years, to the quality of the Samsung Armani Phone P520 and we know they both still have it in them to create the perfect Fashion Phone. Samsung as of recently have certainly been amping it up with phones like the Samsung Galaxy S 2 and the recently discovered Samsung Focus S (unreleased). Samsung has suddenly become one of the best smartphone manufacturers, so we don’t think it’s that far fetched to design a phone for Armani as opposed to just slapping a brand name on an existing phone – That’s lazy.

Samsung

We also think they can use a current phone, but alter it enough so it doesn’t make people think “It’s a lazy re-branded phone which is way overpriced”. Of course, taking the Samsung Galaxy S 2 and changing it up isn’t such a bad idea (yes we know it runs Android, but we just meant the body and internal specs). Then take that phone, and ramp up the phone quality (it feels a little flimsy) with higher quality materials that would smell of Armani every time you as much as looked at it. It’s certainly a good idea, but we still like the thought of a specially designed phone for Armani.

Looks

It’s got to have the drop dead killer look that everyone yearns for but can’t have, like a model on a runway. Very few phones have that look where everyone notices it, where ever you go. Armani P520 phone, even when I covered the logo people were always drawn to the phone to ask (even when off). As soon as I revealed the logo on top of that, they were struck with awe.

This phone may not look like much in pictures, but it was extremely sleek and stunning in real life, especially back in 2007. The first fashion phone by one of the most desired brands, and it made an impact. While the screen was a little too small, it still looked great. It had a metallic bezel around on the front (around the screen) and the back sported a matte metallic finish. The color selection here worked, and the back battery cover was made from a high quality non slip plastic. It was a solid looking phone, and we’d like to see more of this.

Quality

As we just spoke about in the ‘Looks’ Section, the Samsung Armani P520 has a very good build quality to it. Furthermore the phone felt heavy in your hands and people were surprised at how heavy such a small thing was (compared to the size, not regular standards). It was quite light for your information. We feel that a nice dash of leather on the back would work well with the phone depending on the quality and the color schemes on the phone. A good phone with a solid build quality will always feel good in a persons hand. You’ll feel comfortable holding and using it, as opposed to the iPhone4 where you’re scared of dropping it because you KNOW the back or front glass will crack if you drop it.

High build quality materials such as high grade plastic and other materials will be required on a phone of this stature. We don’t want any squeaks or creaks from the phone, and we want to it feel (and be) durable too.

Screen

Samsung phones, the newer ones have fantastic screen quality. Super AMOLED plus looks amazing on any phone. A 4-inch Super AMOLED Plus screen would be perfect, and no one makes Super AMOLED plus screens like Samsung (like actually no one). We love the screen quality, and it’s beautiful to look at let alone watch videos on. This one is a done deal, lock it in.

Functionality

Oh yes, Windows Phone 7 has a much better battery life than Android. Having used both devices, I know (one of the main reasons I dropped the Android OS), and we’re sure Armani Phone users would appreciate having their battery last the entire day (having a battery meter and the option to save battery inbuilt (Mango only) into the phone settings helps too!).

Windows Phone 7 is certainly easy to use, and while it’s sliding Metro UI might be difficult for people to get used to at first, it gives it a distinctive flavor. Basically there’s not much to add here that while Windows Phone 7 was a little under baked when it was first released, the release of Mango will certainly propel it to not only equal with the competition, but actually ahead in some aspects (think Facebook integrations like no other device). It’s got everything, and then some.

That X Factor

This is the one thing Giorgio Armani (yes we don’t want to see Emporio anywhere near the phone) and Samsung have to work out for themselves (I’ve given you an entire article!). The special X factor that actually makes people crave the phone, and an example would be the first Armani Phone (P520), in which i was small and compact (perhaps a little too small), but the fact it had a different form factor, with a brilliant colour build, and it felt nice in the hand – that made it worthwhile to even look at purchasing.

Perhaps the X Factor could be a price margin lower than €700? Food for thought…

Final Words

Here’s the simple truth, and a quote from me back in 2007 – “I will never buy a Fashion Phone as long as I love”. True, and I never will if they keep building fashion phones like they do currently. If they do however use this guide and build a fashion phone that not only looks good but performs well, then I’ll gladly swallow my words and purchase that phone, regardless of price.

It took me a long time to finish this guide off, due to the amount of research I poured into what makes a good phone. I also poured time researching fashion phones (Not only Armani, but Prada, Dior, Hugo Boss, etc) in judging what was good and what was not so good (most phones were pretty poor, but just looked nice). This guide isn’t perfect, some may disagree with our ideas but it’s a start.

Yes, people seem to have adopted a mentality that Fashion Phones are baseless (and terrible) phones which have simply been branded, and we’re here to try and change that perception. Why? Because we hate seeing useless phones (or lazy phones for that matter), and I would love to see a great phone created with my favorite brand. Not too much to ask is it! Regardless, you can be rest assured that I’ll be emailing this off to Samsung and Armani. Help us out by doing the same!

Now I’m off to buy a pair of shoes that will match the phone (relax.. it’s a joke!).


Founder and Chief Editor of Techin5, currently based in Melbourne Australia. Has always had a deep appreciation of Technology and how it helps people, which led to the birth of Techin5. You can follow me on Twitter at @jubbing and on Instagram
  • http://www.wpdownunder.com Sheeds

    Interesting take on merging two of your passions 😉  Nicely written.  You know why your G.A. wallet will last so long don’t you?  Becuase if you keep buying leading fashion brands, it will never get a work out by bulging with cash 😛

    lol

    In my late teens, when Benetton were in F1 racing sponshorship – I used to buy vibrant, bright United Colours of B gear…..I think that was the last time I owned clothing from a European label 😀

    hehehe

  • http://techin5.com Jubbin Grewal @Techin5.com

    Haha Thanks. And Lol at the wallet joke. That’s why I pay by Card 😉

    I never took a fancy to UCofB clothing in all honesty, have a few shirts but almost never wear them. European lables pretty much dominate my cupboard lol. Not all High End Fashion, could never afford that but just Euro ranges. Or American.

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