Meizu Zero wants to banish a smartphone buttons and ports completely
If you're wondering where minimalism in smartphone design will lead, Meizu has an idea. The Chinese phone maker just unveiled the Meizu Zero, a seamless slab of ceramic and glass that has no buttons, no speaker grille, and no charging port. No holes at all, in fact – with two very small exceptions.
So how do you get anything done on it? The fingerprint sensor is built into the display, as we've seen on phones such as the Huawei Mate 20 and the OnePlus 6T. Capacitive touch-sensitive panels at the sides of the case take care of actions like volume control and powering the device on and off.
When it comes to charging, with no port available it's wireless only. Meizu has done its best to overcome the traditional disadvantage of wireless charging – slow speeds – by upping the charging power to 18 W. Obviously there's no cabled data transfer here, so if you want to get anything to or from the phone you need an app and a Wi-Fi or data connection.
In the absence of a SIM port, the Meizu Zero uses the eSIM standard we've seen on several other handsets, including the iPhone XS. Everything works through software rather than a physical SIM card.
It's the speaker technology where the Meizo Zero is perhaps the most impressive. The phone uses its screen as a speaker, using what's called a piezoelectric transducer to create the necessary vibrations – it's appeared in one or two phones in the past, but it's not a tech that's in widespread use.
The phone does have some thin bezels though, around a 5.99-inch AMOLED screen. The top one houses the front-facing camera, which offers a 20 megapixel camera. Around the back you've got a 12 MP + 20 MP dual-lens camera.
Inside, the device has the Snapdragon 845 processor, the top Android chip of 2018, but there's no word on RAM or storage at this point. We're still waiting to hear how much the Meizu Zero will cost too, and where it will be made available, but it's unlikely to be all that easy to get outside of China.
Despite Meizu claiming that this is a "true holeless design" in its press release, that might not be strictly true. Engadget China reports there are very small holes to reset the device and for the microphone.
Still, this is an impressive feat of engineering from Meizu – perhaps the inevitable conclusion to the process Apple started when it got rid of the headphone back in 2017 with the launch of the iPhone 7. As you would expect from such a well-sealed smartphone, it comes with IP68 waterproofing and dustproofing.
Update Jan 30, 2019: Meizu has launched on Indiegogo to fund production of the Zero, where pledges start at US$1,299. If all goes to plan, shipping is expected to start in April.