Apple isn’t known for being wildly experimental with its smartphone features – it’s not exactly ZTE or Huawei in that regard – but a new feature that Honor has shown off on a smartphone has me convinced that the iPhone 14 would be amazing with this one extra.
We saw the Honor 60 series debut last year, but a new version called ‘Honor Code’ has just been announced via Chinese social media network Weibo. This is ostensibly the Honor 60 Pro, except plastered on its back there’s a patterned version of Honor’s logo… which glows when you’ve received a notification.
That’s right, the notification LED light is officially back in 2022, in a much classier way. This feature of older phones let you know when a notification had arrived, or you had a call coming (or a few other things), with an LED light that glowed depending on what was arriving.
Using electrochromic glass (also seen in this OnePlus phone with a color-changing back), the H, O, N and R letters light up to alert you of notifications, as well as calls and alarms, and it can flicker in different rhythms too. It seems pretty subtle, but it should be useful if you’ve got your phone flipped face-down so you don’t see invasive notifications popping up all the time, but still want to know what’s going on.
There’s no reason to believe this phone is going on sale outside China – many Chinese tech companies debut special versions of their phones like this that only sell in the home country – but we live in hope.
However, we’d like to see this feature not just in an Honor phone, but in an iPhone.
Think about it – the design works perfectly. iPhones have the Apple logo on the back, and on MacBooks and certain other gadgets from the company, this has been built with a light in it. Surely the same thing could be done for iPhones.
This could have soft lights under it in a few different colors, so you could program it for different types of notifications – blue for Twitter, green for WhatsApp, red for Instagram – or to flicker in different patterns depending on the urgency of the alert.
If you got a message, you could see the little glow to know someone is trying to contact you, without having the whole message jump up on your screen to distract you from whatever you were doing.
The notification LED was a fairly popular feature that lots of brands used, though it was quite rudimentary in its execution, and a soft glowing Apple logo could be a far superior alternative. That’s especially if it used something like this electrochromic glass which often looks more subtle than an actual LED light.
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Having light-up rear panels isn’t technically new, as certain gaming phones have LED strips on the rear which, amongst other things, can be set to glow in different colors or rhythms when notifications come in.
There’s a key difference here though: some could consider vibrant LED strips on the back of a smartphone a little gauche – it’s not quite as subtle or gentle as a soft ‘Honor’ logo or Apple symbol.
A little glowing apple on the back of an iPhone, that lit up in different soft hues depending on the type of notification, would be a gentle way of reminding you that you’ve got a notification, without announcing it to the world.
It could also work well in dark places like when you’re watching a movie at home, or are in bed – a warm glow surrounding your phone is a lot more calming than an electric shock of color.
We’re not at all expecting Apple to debut an electrochromic notification logo on the back of the iPhone 14. The company doesn’t embrace weird features like that. But I work for a tech website, I’m allowed to live in hope.