MWC 2019: The Nubia Alpha Means There are Now Flexible Watches That are Also Phones

By Tom Pritchard on at

A couple of weeks ago we heard some news from Nubia, one of ZTE's sub-brands, with news that it was bringing a wearable, flexible phone to MWC. Basically it was a phone-type thing you wear as a watch, and I don't think there's a word for that yet. Whatever you want to call it, it's just been announced and it's called the Nubia Alpha.

Nubia has been referring to this as a "wearable phone with a flexible display", which is, frankly, a bit of a mouthful. From the sounds of things it's just a fancy smartwatch, with a flexible display and a bunch of features you wouldn't find in, say, the Galaxy Watch Active, or the Fitbit Versa.

In it you have a 4-inch 'wraparound flexible OLED display, which Nubia claims is 230 per cent larger that other wearables you can get. Naturally due to the whole 'phone' thing it has a built-in eSIM which you can use for calls, texts, and all that other stuff SIM cards can do. Naturally it has Bluetooth and WiFi as well, alongside a 5MP camera that you control with gestures. Tap to take a photo, and long tap to record a video.

It also does all that usual wearable stuff, like water resistance, activity tracking, sleep tracking, and so on. There's a built-in heart rate monitor, as you would expect, so that data won't be completely meaningless.

Inside you have a Snapdragon Wear2100 chipset, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage. All of that's powered by a 500 mAh battery, which Nubia claims will last 1-2 days of user, or a full week in standby mode. The OS is custom-made, so you won't be using some form of wearOS, Tizen, Android, or whatever else there is out there these days.

Sadly it's not clear how this is going to affect app support, but Nubia claims it means they've been able to work on ease of use. So you have voice controls, air gestures, and other intuitive controls. How intuitive it is has yet to be seen. Also it has buttons on the side, which are bound to do something.

Nubia's press release mentions some of the other devices on show at MWC, including wire-free earbuds called 'Nubia Pods', the Nubia X dual-screen phone, the 'Red Magic Mars' (mouthful) gaming phone, and a 5G offering called the Mini 5G. There's no mention of another flexible phone, which we were expecting, so it looks like this is it. Maybe next year.

There's no pricing or availability just yet, but it's supposed to be coming soon and we'll update once we have it. But we do know there will be two versions: one made of anodised stainless steel, and another coated in 18k gold that will presumably be more expensive.