What is it with Nintendo and phones? There are a lot companies out there making really nice phones, but no matter the number (and how many of them, *cough*, can already play Nintendo games), folks are always dreaming up ideas for Nintendo to go and make a phone of their own.
I have no idea why. It would be commercial suicide for the company, and if they ever did, how — given Nintendo's track record with things like user accounts and online stores — would it be any better than a phone from Apple, or Google, or LG, or Samsung?
It wouldn't. But if Nintendo fans are one thing, it's crazy. And if they're two things, it's that they're beautiful dreamers. They don't want to carry around a phone and a 3DS everywhere they go. They want one device that does it all, and does it right.
Below are the best (or at least most interesting) of those dreams. Photoshops, mock-ups and concepts made over the years, some of them from wide-eyed fans, others from professional designers.
This 2010 idea is barely a Nintendo phone at all, in that there's no Nintendo logo on it and it was more concerned with being an overall nerd phone (with comics support and cool motion control stuff) than just something for games. But by 2010 standards it was an impressive fan-made effort.
T3's concept is slick. Maybe a little too slick; it looks like something a designer would make when asked to build a shiny phone that plays games, not necessarily a Nintendo phone. The software was also a little too unoriginal and the gamepad inputs a bit clunky, but hey, we've seen way, way worse efforts.
I love Thomas Chanal's ideas here. Or at least, one of them. The "flipping" thing may look nice on paper but would likely be impossible to build to a reliable standard. What I love is his OS design, which is crisp, bright and clean; exactly what you'd want from the software powering a Nintendo phone.
I'm not sure about this one. The design of Pierre Cerveau's phone itself is great; a big glass screen, just like a real phone from a real phone company, but with the shell of a Game Boy. The fact it's running stock Android is also a practical plus. Where I get unsure is the gamepad clip-on; these things just aren't a good idea, because the second you need to carry around extra gear is the second you defeat the purpose of having a Nintendo phone in the first place.
THE THUMB DESTROYER
This one takes Cerveau's design idea and pushes it to the extremes: the case is even cooler, but the tiny control solution at the bottom would be utterly unplayable (not to mention uncomfortable).
This one was only released today, and there's a lot to like. The renders are great, for one; they have even got dust on them! The sliding control scheme also seems practical (if limited, since it only has two buttons. I also love the fact they not only included a box, but that the box looks hot.
It still doesn't look quite right, though. It looks cheap, a little too plastic, like a Chinese knock-off of an actual Nintendo phone.
There you have it. Years of big dreams and, for the most part, bad ideas. The fact so many of these concepts have such big problems maybe speaks to one of the reasons why Nintendo hasn't actually made a phone.
Most of Nintendo's hardware is, well, very Nintendo. You can look at it, and use it for five minutes, and you know it's just something made by Nintendo. The world of phone design and operating systems is a foreign one to the company, and trying to combine its cold and practical necessities with Nintendo's cheerier game design is a fit no amount of design may ever be able to manage.