Microsoft almost beat Apple, Samsung, and Google to the punch when it comes to bezel-less, full-screen smartphone displays. Windows Central happens to have in its possession a rare Windows Phone prototype device, codenamed “Vela,” that was an early iteration of what would eventually become the uninspired Lumia 435.
The device sports the now nearly ubiquitous edge-to-edge display style now being used by Apple’s iPhone X, the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note 8, and Google’s new Pixel 2 XL. Vela’s development appears to also predate Xiaomi’s Mi Mix, which helped popularize the modern bezel-less trend last year. Even more surprising: Windows Central says Microsoft was planning to price the unreleased Lumia phone at under $200, choosing to brand it as a budget phone with an otherwise unprecedented display design.
Like the similarly ambitious Sharp Aquos Crystal, another bezel-less phone a couple years ahead of the big mobile players, Microsoft planned on putting the front-facing camera into the bottom of the device, to ensure the top of the phone’s frame remained slim and flush with the screen. Safe to say we won’t see that kind of component placement anytime soon, not in the age of the iPhone “notch” and its now-infamous aesthetic. But still, it’s an interesting idea.
For more photos of the device and details about its backstory, be sure to read Windows Central’s full report; the team even reviewed the device. But it’s easy to see how big of a hit this could have been had Microsoft stuck to the design and released this unit as the budget Lumia 435. It wouldn’t have saved Windows Phone, but it would have been a testament to the forward-thinking design that often goes overlooked when talking about Microsoft’s failed mobile efforts.