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Bendable mobile phones are coming

A mobile phone that can bend and a tablet that can fold have been unveiled by Lenovo at a tech display in San Francisco.

Lenovo is adding experimental technologies to its smartphones in a bid to grow its business, trying to overcome declining PC shipments and a competitive phone market.

At Lenovo Tech World in San Francisco, the company showed off a prototype bendable phone that can articulate around your wrist, as well as a tablet that can be folded in half to use like a phone.

“Over the past two years Lenovo has been transforming, making major acquisitions in mobile and infrastructure to expand beyond our core PC business,” said Yuanqing Yang, the company’s chairman and chief executive officer. “I was told we’d better launch something pretty exciting.”

Lenovo Chairman and CEO Yuanqing Yang holds up the new Phab2 Pro phone.

Lenovo Chairman and CEO Yuanqing Yang holds up the new Phab2 Pro phone. Photo: AP

While neither of the bendable devices is likely to make it to market anytime soon, the Beijing-based company also announced a phone that uses a Google sensory technology named Tango, and announced two new Motorola handsets that can be augmented with additional equipment via 16 “magic dots” in their backs.

The Tango phone, called the Phab 2 Pro, will roll out from September this year and is capable of mapping the 3D space around you in real time. This allows for new kinds of apps that, for example, display 3D computer images correctly in real space or allow you to see how new furniture would look in your room. 

With the Phab2 Pro, Lenovo will be the first company to field AR technology on smartphones without the need of a headset, separate device or attachment to a powerful computer.

“Lenovo is creating a new kind of AR experience that is more portable, more practical, and will be even more popular,” Yang said.

Meanwhile the Motorola handsets, like LG’s G5 and Google’s Project Ara prototype, allow you to snap on addition modules to define the features of your phone. The MotoZ and MotoZ Force can be upgraded with additional equipment via what the company is calling Moto Mods. This lets people easily add battery power, speakers, projectors and other hardware capabilities to its phones by fastening the equipment with 16 “magic dots” — or high-powered magnets — to the phone’s back.

“Now your phone is not just your phone,” Yang said. With Moto Mods, the phone “can transform into whatever you wanted it to be or needed to be,” he said.

Lenovo is looking to phones for growth to offset a struggling PC market. Lenovo was the largest single vendor of PC shipments in the first quarter of 2016, according to IDC, but shipments declined 8.5 per cent on a year earlier. The company acquired the Motorola smartphone business for $US2.8 billion in 2014 to help it hedge against this weakness, but turning those phones into major sales has proven to be a challenge.

Bloomberg, with Fairfax Media

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