Two Chinese smartphone makers most people in the US have never heard of are innovating faster than any other company — even Apple and Samsung

The Meizu Zero has no ports or buttons.

caption
The Meizu Zero has no ports or buttons.
source
Meizu

  • Vivo and Meizu, two Chinese companies you may not have heard of, revealed smartphone concepts that don’t have any ports or buttons.
  • Instead, they’re using newer technologies to replace these things, all while keeping the familiar smartphone design.
  • Meanwhile, other smartphone makers are sticking to more traditional technologies, which now look outdated in comparison to Vivo and Meizu’s concepts.

In 2016, Apple’s Phil Schiller infamously said that the company removed the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 because of “courage.”

Fast-forward to early 2019, and a lot of phone makers have also ditched the headphone jack from their recent devices. But two Chinese smartphone makers that few outside of China have ever heard of are taking courage to another level.

Vivo and Meizu have revealed smartphone concepts that not only don’t come with headphone jacks, but they don’t come with charging ports, or speaker grills, or even physical buttons.

The Meizu Zero has no holes, ports, wires, or buttons.

caption
The Meizu Zero has no holes, ports, wires, or buttons.
source
Meizu

The Meizu Zero and Vivo Apex 2019 are seamless slabs of glass and metal where charging is entirely wireless and buttons are replaced with sensors. For audio, Vivo’s concept uses vibrations emanating from the display rather than from a traditional speaker.

Meizu is even ditching the SIM card port, replacing it with a built-in eSIM that doesn’t require a physical SIM card.

Read more: This might be the smartphone of the future: no holes, no ports, no wires, and no buttons

I’m immediately more curious of Vivo and Meizu’s totally wireless, SIM-less, button-less, and port-less devices than I was when Apple ditched the headphone jack, which is arguably the biggest push so far by any other phone maker to adopt newer wireless technology. But smartphones that have taken part in the headphone jack massacre have only pushed us to use Bluetooth headphones. Otherwise, they’re just typical smartphones with little else to write home about.

The Vivo and Meizu phones, however, are something you’d write home about. Removing the headphone jack is old news, but removing every port is audacious.

While they look like regular smartphones, Vivo and Meizu’s concepts are new and different. They’ve invited us to think of what it would be like if we owned a smartphone that doesn’t have traditional buttons and could only charge wirelessly. And by planting that seed, they’ve forced me to look at all the recent smartphones in my desk drawer and think how outdated they are. In contrast, I never felt that other phones were outdated when Apple removed the headphone jack.

Buttons and ports already feel outdated.

caption
Buttons and ports already feel outdated.
source
Apple

Vivo and Meizu go all-in with newer technologies rather than keeping a toe in the past, like most of today’s smartphones. Going all-in with newer technologies all of a sudden might seem a little aggressive, but none of these things are brand-new. The technologies have been there for years, but no phone maker has been brave enough to fully embrace them.

Indeed, Vivo and Meizu are innovating smartphones and how we use them faster than any other smartphone maker.

It won’t trend until Apple does it

But remember, the Meizu and Vivo devices are only concepts so far. There’s no telling whether or not these devices will ever see the light of day in the hands of users. Massive phone makers like Apple and Samsung, on the other hand, don’t reveal concepts, so it’s entirely likely that these companies have looked into a button-less, port-less, and fully wireless design. We just don’t know about it.

Still, Meizu and Vivo should be credited with these innovations – not Samsung, Apple, or any other smartphone maker. But if smartphone history tells us anything, it’s that totally wireless, button-less, and port-less phones won’t trend until Apple releases one.

The Meizu Zero also has a futuristic in-display fingerprint sensor, which more and more smartphone makers are starting to adopt.

caption
The Meizu Zero also has a futuristic in-display fingerprint sensor, which more and more smartphone makers are starting to adopt.
source
Meizu

Speaking of Apple, it was the company that spurred this innovation in the first place by removing the headphone jack on the iPhone 7. More people are using wireless headphones as a result, like Apple’s own AirPods. Since then, however, it’s had two chances – the iPhone 8 and iPhone X generation, and now the iPhone XS generation – to introduce a device that innovates in some other way. But it hasn’t taken any of these chances, nor has any other smartphone maker.

With all this said, we’re expecting new details about Samsung’s upcoming smartphone that comes with a foldable display on February 20, when the company is hosting its annual Unpacked event. We’ll potentially know more about the innovation of foldable displays on smartphones once we attend the event.