Nubia is working on a phone with an electrochromic back

Nubia is working on a phone with an electrochromic back

Nubia, the former offshoot of ZTE and now an independent smartphone brand, looks to be working on making its phones even more beautiful on the outside, if a teaser posted on Chinese site Weibo are to be believed. A video posted to the site and captioned “The new technology of the Red Devils [Red Magic] gaming phone has been exposed, and the back shell seems to be able to switch back and forth between transparent and colored. Are you looking forward to mass production?” seems to be pointing to Nubia as the latest company to experiment with ‘electrochromic’ properties on the back. In other words — a handset that can change color.

The teaser video was posted on AnTuTu’s official Weibo account, indicating that they probably have access to a unit for benchmarking purposes or have one for marketing needs. Either way, the source has a lot of reputation, and we’re inclined to believe what we are seeing in the video.

It’s not the first time we’ve seen manufacturers dabbling with electrochromic casing. Earlier this year, we saw BBK-owned brand Vivo demonstrate a phone that can change from blue to silver, while sister-brand OnePlus used it in their 2019 concept handset to hide the rear cameras from view.

The Nubia handset being teased is expected to be part of the Red Magic series of gaming phones, one of the only phone ranges to use active cooling fans on mobile devices, and that could make the use of electrochromic glass far more tenable in a mainstream release. One of the challenges for designers of electrochromic phones has been finding a way to keep the power consumption down to a level that wouldn’t deprive other components. If the battery is being kept cool, it should mean less likelihood of being overworked and overheated. The handset being teased is likely to be the successor to the Nubia Red Magic 5G, released in 2020, but we’ve got no official confirmation of that, so far.

The question yet to be answered, however, is whether the advent of phone shells that change color will mark the beginning of the end for phone cases? It’s going to be a lot more difficult to show off your phone’s party trick in a leather case.

About author

Chris Merriman
Chris Merriman

I am the UK News Editor at XDA Developers. I’ve been writing about technology for over a decade for the likes of The Inquirer, where I was Associate Editor, Computer Shopper UK, and IT Pro. I’ve also appeared on Sky News, BBC, Al Jazeera and recently left a long-running weekly tech news spot on TalkRadio UK. My love of technology comes from my family who hail from the pioneering days of Silicon Valley - in fact my Grandfather worked on Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. I’ve been using smartphones (and reading XDA) since the HTC Canary in 2003. I’m also a smart home obsessive. You can find me tweeting as @ChrisTheDJ or email me at [email protected]