Toaster Company Made a Compact Android Phone
Japanese company Balmuda revealed today its first smartphone at a press event in Tokyo. It is called Balmuda Phone is the debut product of Balmuda Technologies, a new division of the company earlier known for stylish, premium home appliances like air purifiers and rice cookers. Balmuda’s toaster has a cult following in Japan, so there are people who might be interested in the phone.
Balmuda Phone is quite a bit different from other phones on the market. CEO Gen Terao said on stage that he felt that smartphones have gotten too big and unwieldy in recent years, so the Balmuda Phone was designed with compactness and elegance as the primary goals. It has a very sharp 4.9-inch 16:9 1080p display and is roughly comparable to a 4.7-inch iPhone SE; the display is slightly bigger and the phone is 2mm wider, but the smaller bezels mean it’s 15mm shorter.
The Phone is 13.7mm thick at its thickest point, but the back panel tapers down gradually toward the edges. There’s a single large camera with a 48-megapixel sensor in the top right corner, and it’s mirrored by a fingerprint sensor in the top left. The 8-megapixel selfie camera is housed in a hole-punch cutout at the top right of the screen.
The phone’s specs are mid-range. The processor is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 and there’s 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The battery is just 2,500mAh, which will hopefully be offset somewhat by the lower-power processor. The phone comes with wireless charging.
Comes with Android 11, which is also very different from what you’d find on most Android phones today. There’s an interactive home screen with different elements of the wallpaper customizable for different shortcuts; for example, you could swipe on one of the lines to start Google Maps. Horizontal swipes move you between some of the built-in software, like a calendar, a notes app, and a calculator. All of these had neat design touches, like the notes app’s visual timeline of photos and memos, or the calculator app’s built-in currency conversion and ability to handle large Japanese numbers that are counted in the 10,000s rather than the thousands.
The Balmuda Phone will be available in Japan on contract with SoftBank later this month, and Balmuda is selling an unlocked model itself for 104,800 yen (about $920).