Analyzing the teaser: slider phone with autofocus camera and dock connector | webOS Nation

Analyzing the teaser: slider phone with autofocus camera and dock connector

by Derek Kessler Wed, 02 Feb 2011 8:22 pm EST

So, Palm posted a video this evening teasing some extra-close-up shots of a black something that will presumably be unveiled at the Think Beyond event next week. Being the desperate for more info types that we are, we couldn’t help but dig into those eight seconds of ghostly silent video to figure out what it is. And here’s our conclusion: it’s the next generation webOS smartphone, possibly a successor to the Pre.

How did we come to these conclusions? Experience, caffeine, voodoo magics, and a lot of squinting and conjecture. After all, we’re gleaning what we can from three almost macro shots, two of them of the same corner of the device. Here’s what we can say with certainty: this is a smartphone with a glass screen, power switch, ringer toggle, autofocus camera, and some kind of dock connector. More detail after the break.

Why a smartphone and not a tablet? It’s the scale of the curves and the placement of the buttons. It’s all very much like the current Pre-series devices, though seemingly thinner. Heck, even the camera is in the same spot as before, though the speaker there is new and we didn’t spy an LED flash.

As Meltedwire pointed out in the comments on the teaser video post, that is an autofocus camera. It has a separate lens cover (it’s at an angle with the curving back cover in relation to the purple camera lens below) and the round and raised camera module body indicates to us that it’s capable of moving independently from the rest of the phone (as well as looking very similar to camera modules installed in the last few iPhones). That says autofocus camera to us. As we noted above, we didn’t see an LED flash in this video, though it’s entirely conceivable that it was moved over to the other side of that speaker.

Now, about those five rounded silver bits: that’s a dock connector of some type. We don’t know if it’s the Touchstone v2 as markm2179 and other suggested, but our time with the old Jawbone headsets tells us that those five little silver bits are dock connectors. What exactly they’re for is anybody’s guess - for all we know it could be video and audio out to a media dock. Wouldn’t that be something? Also, we can say that these aren’t any sort of connections for the “tap to send” feature leaked a few weeks back, or at least we hope they aren’t. The fact that they’re recessed tells us that this is meant for a persistent physical connection, like charging or sending data to other wired bits.

Lastly, there’s that seam down the middle of the device. It could be one of two things: a battery cover or the seam between two sliding halves. If we operate on the slider assumption, the placement of the buttons, dock, etc leads us to say a vertical slider, making it a successor to the Pre. It also makes us wonder about the removability of the battery, we don’t see an additional seam for the battery cover like we do on the current Pre devices. It’s possible that there may be another method for removing the battery, but on the flips side of the coin, a non-removable battery can be a bigger and more strangely-shaped battery (see the tall-and-skinny iPhone 4 battery) with longer life.

Or that could be the battery back, which slots over the power button, ringer switch, and other controls like it does on the Pixi, though hopefully without being as difficult to remove. We can’t imagine this being a slider with a full-wrap removable back (the edge of the back would wrap around to the front of the keyboard, and that’d be no good), so if this is the battery back seam, we’re going to have to say that this is a small keyboard-less phone. As much as we want a small phone, we’re big keyboard fans here, so we’re hoping it’s the former option.

So, what do we have here? Like we said at the start, we can’t say anything definitively, but if you forced us to tell you what we see, here it is: this is a Pre-style slider phone with a glass screen, autofocus camera, and a dock connector of uncertain function. We'd be remiss if we didn't point out that the corner of this device looks an awful lot like Virox's renders for last year's mock-up contest. Come to think of it, his PalmPad render looks an awful lot like what we've seen thus far. Crazy, eh? All we know for certain is that we can’t wait to find out what it really is, and we get the feeling we’re going to want one.