Japanese design firm Balmuda at the moment introduced its first smartphone at a press occasion in Tokyo. The straightforwardly titled Balmuda Telephone is the debut product from Balmuda Applied sciences, a brand new division of the corporate beforehand recognized for trendy, premium dwelling home equipment like air purifiers and rice cookers. Balmuda’s toaster specifically has a cult following in Japan.

As you’d count on, the Balmuda Telephone is kind of a bit completely different to different telephones available on the market. CEO Gen Terao mentioned on stage that he felt that smartphones have gotten too huge and unwieldy in recent times, so the Balmuda Telephone was designed with compactness and magnificence as the first targets. It has a really sharp 4.9-inch 16:9 1080p show and is roughly corresponding to a 4.7-inch iPhone SE; the show is barely larger and the cellphone is 2mm wider, however the smaller bezels imply it’s 15mm shorter.

The Balmuda Telephone is way thicker within the center than on the sides.

The Balmuda Telephone is a full 13.7mm thick at its thickest level, however the again panel tapers down closely towards the sides. There’s a single massive digicam with a 48-megapixel sensor within the high proper nook, and a similar-looking cutout within the high left homes a fingerprint sensor. The 8-megapixel selfie digicam is housed in a hole-punch cutout on the high proper of the display screen.

The cellphone’s specs are usually mid-range. The processor is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 and there’s 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The battery is simply 2,500mAh, which is able to hopefully be offset considerably by the lower-power processor, although we’ll have to check for ourselves to see. The cellphone does fortunately have wi-fi charging.

The place Balmuda is de facto differentiating itself is with design. It’s a well-worn tech writing cliche to say that one thing “feels good in the hand,” however that was clearly Balmuda’s intent right here with the compact measurement and curved again that nestles into your palm like a pebble. I’ve huge fingers, granted, however I feel nearly anybody would discover this extra snug to make use of than the hefty 6-inch slabs most of us carry round today. Whereas the case is plastic, construct high quality feels stable and there’s a pleasant distinction between the textured again panel and the shiny edges. All in all it’s a cute, engaging object.

The Balmuda Telephone has a textured plastic again and is available in black or white.

Balmuda’s built-in calendar app, which syncs with Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook.

The software program, based mostly on Android 11, can be very completely different to what you’d discover on most Android telephones at the moment. There’s an interactive dwelling display screen with numerous components of the wallpaper customizable for various shortcuts; for instance, you may swipe on one of many strains to launch Google Maps. Horizontal swipes transfer you between among the built-in software program, like a calendar, a notes app, and a calculator. All of those had neat design touches, just like the notes app’s visible timeline of pictures and memos, or the calculator app’s built-in forex conversion and talent to deal with massive Japanese numbers which might be counted within the 10,000s fairly than the hundreds.

The Balmuda Telephone will likely be out there in Japan on contract with SoftBank later this month, and Balmuda is promoting an unlocked mannequin itself for 104,800 yen (about $920). Which may sound like lots for a compact Android 11 cellphone with these specs, however then $329 most likely seems like lots for a toaster, too. In each circumstances, you’re paying for the design and the consumer expertise fairly than the invoice of supplies, and this clearly isn’t aimed toward anybody who needs a traditional Android flagship. As somebody who does personal Balmuda’s toaster, I’m trying ahead to discovering out how effectively the cellphone holds up underneath basic use — as a result of a lot as I just like the toaster, a smartphone is much more vital to my life.

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