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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Crazy-looking smartphones (roundup)

Phone makers use every trick in the book to differentiate their phones on store shelves, from bright colors to unusual proportions, textures, and materials. Here are five smartphones that turn heads for striking shapes, aggressive style, and distinct physical features that you just don't see every day.
Editor's note: This article originally posted August 13, 2012, and was most recently updated July 29, 2014.
Amazon's Fire Phone peers back at you with four infrared eyes.Josh Miller/CNET

Amazon Fire Phone

With rounded corners and black-on-black decoration, the Fire Phone looks like almost any other ink-colored handset you'd find on the shelf. That is, until you take in the four extra cameras on the phone face, one in each corner. These infrared orbs are the reason that Amazon's first phone can pull your gaze into 3D scenes on the lock screen, the maps, and specialized games. Tracking the position of your head and eyes is what makes Dynamic Perspective work at all. Read CNET's full Amazon Fire Phone review.

The Galaxy K Zoom is a smartphone/camera crossover with a very limited sales zone.Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Is that an optical zoom in your pocket? Why, yes. Yes, it is. The follow-up to last year's Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom doesn't look any less odd as a point-and-shoot camera parading around as a smartphone. This year's model, based on the Galaxy S5 flagship design, bumps up the specs while trimming down the bulk. Yet, Samsung isn't counting on the K Zoom for significant sales. Instead, it's earmarked the hybrid design for Korea only. Read CNET's full Samsung Galaxy K Zoom review.

This is by far one of the most luxurious phones we've ever held.Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Vertu Signature Touch

We tend to get excited about phones made of real aluminum, but that's nothing compared to a handset crafted from titanium, calfskin, and sapphire. The 4.7-inch Android KitKat cellie comes with some nicely high-end specs, including a 13-megapixel camera, 2.3GHz quad-core Qualcomm pSnapdragon processor, and 64GB onboard storage. It also boasts encrypted calls. But never mind that. Everyone knows that it's the phone's ultraluxe exterior -- and $11,300 price tag (£6,750, AU$12,200) -- that really counts. Read the Vertu Signature Touch preview here.

LG G Flex
LG's curvy G Flex has a huge curved display and a self-healing finish.Josh Miller/CNET

LG G Flex

This curved 6-inch smartphone may sell with three US carriers, but its underlying technology is far from commonplace. The Flex's bendable form can withstand 90 pounds of pressure and its self-healing backing is a small, but useful, innovative detail. Read our LG G Flex review.

Motorola Moto X
You can customize the Motorola Moto X's backing.Sarah Tew/CNET

Motorola Moto X

The beauty behind the Moto X's comfortable, everyman form is that you can make it look exactly how you'd like. While other phone-makers produce a range of wild colors when going out on a limb,Motorola's Moto Maker site lets customers choose their own colors on the front, back, and accents. Talk about one-of-a-kind design. Read the Motorola Moto X review.

Ice, ice baby.Josh Miller/CNET

Nokia Asha 503

Nokia has always been known for competent, eye-catching design that's a cut above. Lately, the device-maker has made a name for itself with polycarbonate materials dropping with color. The fact that a budget phone like this Asha 503 got such a neat ice block look and feel demonstrated Nokia's approach to design. We can only hope that Microsoft, which now owns Nokia's devices arm, follows suit.Read the full Nokia Asha 503 review.

Samsung Hennessy
A flip-up Android phone? Yep, that's right.Samsung

Samsung Hennessy and Samsung Galaxy Golden

Leave it to Samsung to go neo-retro with the humble flip phone. Its Hennessy phone has dual 3.3-inch screens, runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and also tucks away two SIM card slots. The more premium Samsung Galaxy Golden is the same idea writ large, with 3.7-inch Super AMOLED touch screens, an 8-megapixel camera, and LTE support. Both are expected to remain in Asian markets. Read about the Hennessy here and Galaxy Golden here.
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