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Designed to be universally easy to use, Motophone, Motorola's sleek new "no-manual," no-frills phone, is almost here. Their experience website, just launched today detailing their design process and extensive research—including visits to multiple continents to conduct ethnographies of how people actually use their phones.

The upshot is a super-thin (9 mm) candy bar phone with several features that truly make it a phone for the people. One of the key differences is the EPD (Electrophoretic Display) screen which, like electronic ink, uses tiny black-and-white spheres in a display that is highly visible (even in bright light), drains batteries way less than LCDs and cuts manufacturing costs. To simplify the user interface, the design team looked at vector graphics and gestures that transcend language and culture, translating their findings into a set of universal icons, which drive all navigation without menus. Moving battery and signal indicators outside of the display leaves more space for the other icons and makes them easier to read.

Geared for use in rural areas and developing nations, the Motofone has enhanced audio for noisy street life, is overall more durable and exposed screws make it easy to disassemble and refurbish. Due out before the end of the year, the price is rumored to be somewhere around the $50 mark. Though it's meant for emerging markets we expect it to be a hit among Westerners who want something cheap, sexy, reliable and simple.


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