For a long time, I liked buttons on a smartphone. Before that, I liked Palm’s Graffiti language and I was a dab hand at the language, but at the time, most “convergent devices” (that was the quaint term used to call combining a cell ‘phone with a personal digital assistant, or PDA) were moving towards having a hardware keyboard. Going back into the mists of time, I used a Palm Tungsten W as a smartphone, which was replaced with a Palm Treo 680, then a Nokia E71 before I moved to the BlackBerry 9700. All of these devices used hardware keyboards and, yes, I liked my buttons. However, times change and even old dogs must learn new tricks. I’ve moved to using a touchscreen on my smartphone, although I’d fire back that it’s telling how this article is mostly written using a hardware keyboard. Handsets have changed with the changing fashions: buttons and even bezels are no longer in, so manufacturers have worked to disguise, move or even eliminate them from devices. LG moved the G2’s buttons onto the back, an idea that hasn’t been copied across the industry but once you get used to it, it works well enough. I think I speak for many people when I thank LG for including the knock-to-unlock feature, which is something that’s been adopted across the industry fueled, I’m sure, by the large sizes of handsets meaning that the lock button is a stretch away!
However, whilst it’s relatively easy to do without the volume keys, only one manufacturer has dared to remove the power or lock button. This is what we use to turn on or off the device, to restart it or should the worst happen, to factory reset things (often in combination with a volume button). An elegant design is one thing but we do need our devices to remain functional, right? And then Chinese-based manufacturer, Manta, announce that they are developing a handset with absolutely no physical buttons on the chassis whatsoever. We are short on details about Manta’s new handset, the X7, but we do know that it will have a sensor-bar along one of the sides of the handset. It appears that the sensor bar may be used to adjust the phone keypad dialer and presumably the volume controls too, as sliding up and down the sensor bar seems a logical step. Perhaps the sensor bar will mimic buttons and tapping at the top of bottom will change volume? Or perhaps there will be an on-screen button as we see in Oppo’s Color OS?
Writing of a custom overlay based on Android, that’s exactly what the Manta X7 will have. This will be called MO7os and unfortunately this is all the information we have. We do not know the size of the screen or the hardware inside the chassis, or how the device is turned on or off. It looks to have a large screen, or perhaps the model holding the device has small hands? We don’t know if it will be a 32-bit or 64-bit processor, or how much storage it will contain? If Manta are doing without buttons, it would be nice to see the manufacturer do without ports; it would be great if Manta used Qi charging instead of a MicroUSB port. We can’t see either way if there’s a port included on the base of the device or not. Nor do we know where the device will be released – but as soon as we find out any information, we’ll let you know. Meanwhile, check out these images below: