It is a long time since a major mobile manufacturer has considered a clamshell design, but some interesting images imagine such an iPhone concept. The clamshell used to be hugely popular with feature phones, but has since been completely replaced by the existing flat or curved device designs.

iPhone Flip Phone Concept Emerges

Hajek iPhone clamshell concept

But undeterred by the apparent unpopularity of this concept, a notorious designer has imagined what the iPhone clamshell could look like. Martin Hajek has taken on this project as a fun way to imagine how Apple could rebrand the iPhone series, another example of his passion for visualising the future in 3D.

Whether Apple would actually consider producing a clamshell device is highly debatable. It certainly isn’t fashionable in the smartphone marketplace at the moment, but then Apple has always had a reputation for surprising people with left-field innovations. If the consumer electronics giant ever believed that such a clamshell design was viable, it would be unlikely to shy away from at least considering producing one.

It is worth noting that flip phones have in fact attained popularity in the past. The Samsung E700 feature phone and the Motorola Razr are both examples of such designs which successfully reached a mass market. And although clamshells are not particularly popular in the Western marketplace today, this is not indicative of the entire planet.

Japan loves the clamshell

The clamshell concept is referred to as ‘garakei’ in Japan, where it still retains some popularity, despite the fact that even in East Asia many consumers are now fastening on to standard iPhone and similar units. But the concept in question suggests that Apple could consider a specific clamshell unit for sale in East Asia; an increasingly important marketplace for the consumer electronics giant.

Hajek imagines that such a device would be made available in gold, space gray and the newly introduced, rose gold. There is no pink clamshell, which is notable considering that it has been mooted recently that Apple could introduce this option when the iPhone seven is released. In the design produced by Hajek, the bottom rear corner of the clamshell unit features a lanyard detail, which would actually enable owners of the device to hang and wear it around their necks.

New iPhone accessory market

Thus, Hajek envisages that such a device would have the potential to produce an entirely new accessory market for Apple branded lanyards. Hajek declined to include any technical specifications in relation to this, but it is an intriguing visual concept, and clearly one that Hajek believes has commercial potential.

But Hajek has sketched out some details related to this proposed smartphone. The designer suggests that a customer version of iOS could be produced for this particular clamshell unit, with content specifically tailored for Japanese customers in particular. Although this may sound like a serious undertaking for Apple, it is worth noting that the recent Watch operating system was produced to collaborate with the Apple Watch, and this is merely a tweaked version of the existing smartphone OS.

The clamshell iPhone concept also features a multi-touch display. It seems natural from Hajek’s perspective that Apple would include Force Touch technology in such a unique design, as Apple looks to introduce this revolutionary system into all of its devices. The external edifice of the device would immediately alert uses to incoming notifications, with the ability for calls, text messages, e-mails and other content to be displayed physically.

Also notable in this design is an input screen used to display the virtual keyboard, picker views and any other input mechanism that the OS presents. Above this unit would be the main display of the device, which would show any context and detail related to messages, e-mail conversations, and other application-related content.

Certainly the Hajek renders are physically attractive, and will probably find favor with some Apple users. Although this sort of clamshell concept is not a particularly popular notion in Western marketplaces, almost anything with an Apple badge on will sell significantly.

Could Apple release a clamshell iPhone?

Although there has been absolutely no suggestion that Apple will ever release a clamshell iPhone, it could actually be a sensible move for the corporation. Apple promised the city back in 2014 that it would develop new product lines, and the iPhone 6 Plus phablet and Apple Watch are the first manifestations of this strategy. A new clamshell iPhone intended for specific release in Japan and other East Asian marketplaces could further advance this policy.

For the time being, Apple will ready itself for the release of the iPhone 7, which is expected next month. But this clamshell design will whet appetite for the release of that device, which seems certain based on a leaked Vodafone e-mail to be hitting the stores on September 25.