Smartwatch with GPS and built-in eSIM or SIM card tray does not exactly make the smartwatch a mobile phone, much less a smartphone, but this: the nubia Alpha is a full-fledged smartphone designed to be worn on the wrist. Yes. It is indeed a wearable smartphone with flexible display and it is not only real; it is hitting the market very soon. With Alpha (stylized as ‘Ɑ‘), ZTE Corporation-owned nubia takes the use of flexible display to the next level.
It features a 4-inch flexible OLED display with 960 x 192 pixels where everything you expect of a smartphone is accessible from. The flexible display is tested to sustain 100,000 bends and therefore, you can have peace of mind of wrapping it around your wrist. Being a long-ish display, the display extends to beyond the top of wrist which means, you can’t see everything at a glance, but fear not, the custom Android-based OS lets you scroll through whatever that are on it, so you can see the entirety of the information, well, albeit not quite all at a glance.
The watch, no, wait, I mean wearable smartphone, uses a combination of touch, air gestures (called A.I.M. short for Air Interaction Mechanics) and physical buttons for navigation and task executions. In addition to making/taking calls, either through the built-in speaker or a connected Bluetooth headset, text (via SMS or WeChat), watch movies and listen to music as a smartphone would let you do, it can do everything a smartwatch does, including fitness tracking, mobile payments (but only through Chinese QR code payment). Though I imagine it will be a pain to type on a tiny onscreen keyboard. You are better off voice record your message using WeChat (much like WhatsApp).
Like a proper smartphone, it has a camera too. Though don’t expect mind-blowing resolution as the camera is just a 5 MP item and I also imagine it will be pain to frame from the wrist. Perhaps, removing it to take picture would be a less painful way. Under the hood, nubia Alpha is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 which is designed with smartwatch in mind and therefore, fluidity maybe of an issue when pushing this many functions and features. However, the 1 GB RAM should help alleviate this potential issue. Onboard storage, meanwhile, comes in at 8 GB and it has a 500 mAh battery which provides 1-2 days of “regular usage.”
Now for the good news for tech heads (me included) who have the money to splurge (me not included). nubia Alpha will be offered models: a Bluetooth-only version for use with your smartphone and an eSIM model, and in a choice of two finishes: black stainless steel and 18K gold-plated. nubia also indicated that it will be hitting the EU and NA markets staring April for €449 (about US$510) for the Bluetooth-only model and €549 (around US$623), but the eSIM version won’t be available until Q3 2019. And apparently, gold tone version is pricier at €649 (or about US$737).