Five cutting-edge phone designs for 2009 and beyond

The (possible) phones of the future

  • The Planet Phone: At first glance, this handset looks more like a powder makeup kit than a mobile phone. But its unique circular design features several LEDs on the top half of the phone that each represent a different person within your phone directory. The more you talk to a person, the closer their light will remain near the center of the LED display. The less frequently you talk to them, the more their light will be pushed out to the edge of the display.

  • The Temperature: Much like the Planet, the Temperature phone is designed specifically to keep track of specific friends. The phones distinctive feature is its "tiles" that each display a different person's name on the front. Once in place, the tiles actually glow different colors depending on each person's status. Thus, a person who has their phone turned off will glow one color, while a person who is at work will have a different color.

  • The fbt: This handset, which is designed specifically for the visually impaired, features a Braille number keypad on one side and a full Braille keyboard and display on the other that allows users to send and receive Braille text messages.

  • The Tap: The idea behind the Tap is a simple one: it's a flat phone that is designed like a light switch that can be easily "tapped" on or off with the flick of your finger. The idea behind the design is to give people who want to be left alone a quick and easy way to put their handset to sleep while they relax.

  • Would you buy any of these phones?

  • LG Japan announced the winners of its first-ever Mobile Design Contest last week by showcasing prototypes for cutting-edge phone designs at the Tokyo Designers Week convention. All of the handset designs were submitted by outside parties, though LG cautions that we shouldn't expect any of them to hit the market anytime soon. In this slideshow, we'll examine which phone designs took home prizes, as well as the features that differentiate them from today's smartphones such as the iPhone and the BlackBerry Storm.

  • The Ring: The Ring may be the world's first "finger phone," as it is designed with a finger hole toward the bottom of the phone that can be used to grip the phone by merely using one finger. The designer also placed numbers around the hole to give it a retro-dial look and feel.

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