Every year so many phones come out with similar designs and features. But every once in a while, one comes out of nowhere that stands out for a great idea, utter extravagance, and unique style. ProTruly’s Darling smartphone seems to hit all three in the best and worst ways. It appears to be the first smartphone with a built-in 360-degree camera, allowing it to record videos and take photos in all directions at once. The phone appears to let you preview those recordings as strange globes. Presumably, you’d be able to upload them to the many sites like Facebook and YouTube that now support 360-degree footage.
As for why the Darling is the first phone to include this feature, that becomes fairly obvious when you look at its design: the phone has an enormous camera protrusion on both the back and front. It might still fit in your pockets, but it probably isn’t going to be awfully comfortable. That said, camera bumps have become a standby of top smartphones lately. Even though, ProTruly is pushing things here, the size really may not be a turnoff for someone who’s interested in 360-degree video. Plus, with 360-degree video growing ever more popular, it’s a neat feature to have built into a phone.
There are two versions of the Darling being made a standard model and a glitzier model. There seems to have conflicts regarding its pricing: China Daily says the standard version sells for close to $600 USD and the higher-end model for close to $1,300, while Mashable has them at $500 and $800. They are currently available only in China. Both models have the same specifications. Mashable reports that they have a 5.5-inch 1080p display, a MediaTek processor, 64GB of internal storage, 4GB of RAM, a 3,560mAh battery and 13MP cameras on both sides. The phones have running Android Marshmallow and a USB-C port. It also has a fingerprint sensor on the back.
Where the higher-end model stands out is its wonderfully excessive design flourishes: instead of the plastic camera housing used at the top of the standard model, the higher-end Darling uses leather, a strip of gold, and four embedded diamonds.
The phone was announced at the end of the year, but it’s now popping up again after ProTruly brought it to Mobile World Congress this week. Mashable took a look at the phone and called it “bizarre,” “the kind of hideousness only Vertu would be able to make decent” and “unusually long.” You should definitely read it if you want some hands-on impressions.