Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but ugly is ugly no matter how you look at it. If you've ever been so unfortunate as to lay eyeballs on any of these devices, you probably came away blinded. Here are ten smartphones that should never have made it off the paper they were sketched on.DISCLAIMER: We're not trying to be mean, folks. There's no doubt that the devices listed below were designed with love and passion and were someone's "baby" somewhere. But c'mon. Design of the hardware means more than ever. And that's where these devices got it wrong. Way wrong.
BlackBerry 7290: There are probably many of you still using this BlackBerry from yesteryear. Talk about the prototypical old-school calculator-sized smartphone. This is it. The 7290 is a monstrously large block of chunky hardware that will be just as useful as a weapon as an e-mail device. If you happen to be accosted by a stranger in a dark alley at night, just heave the 7290 at them. As long as your aim is true, this will surely knock 'em out. And if your aim stinks, just hold it up and show it to the miscreant. He'll likely run off screaming into the night.
E-Ten Glofiish M800: This one was just released last week and dang, is it heinous. Has E-Ten even looked at the competition lately? Or did it hire the most recent grads from The School of Bad Industrial Design? Talk about a boring, gray slab of nothingness. The Glofiish M800 (colorful name, by the way) has absolutely no visual appeal and certainly doesn't match its lively name.
HP iPAQ hw6900: None of the iPAQ smartphones were lookers, but this one takes the ugly cake. The entire thing is one solid gray color that just screams "boring!" While the navigation cluster almost looks like Cylon technology, the keyboard is made of simple round blips that look like they were pulled off the shelf at Backwards Designs R'Us.
HTC Dash: The Dash may have been a hit with T-Mo fans, but it had no crossover appeal with the mass market. This Windows Mobile smartphone is the wallflower at the smartphone party, standing off the to side wondering why none of the other smartphones will talk to it. When you look at its uninspired black and gray coloration, plain-Jane keyboard and utilitarian navigation cluster, all you can think is who the heck were this kid's poor parents?
Nokia 9500 Communicator: The Communicator series is Nokia's top-of-the-shelf smartphone, at least it terms of functionality. Too bad they are the size of bricks. The 9500 beats every other phone on this list for sheer size. It is of Star Destroyer proportions, and would make anyone brave enough to put it into their pockets look like a tool. But I gotta hand it to the Finns. If there ever was a culture on earth where wearing a brick-sized piece of hardware on your belt was cool, it is Finland. But I think there is a size-distortion effect going on over there. Finns are generally a tall people, so even a phone as large as the 9500 looks well-proportioned on the hip of the average Finn. Put the 9500 on anyone else, however, and it will likely tip them over.
Nokia E61/E62: The E61/62 are essentially the same phone, just with some under-the-hood feature changes. Unfortunately they share the same exoskeleton. The E61/62 has to be the widest phone in the world. You can barely get your hand around it, and holding it to your head for phone calls makes you feel darned foolish. It is another phone to come from the Function No Form school of thought, and makes small children cry on the spot.
Palm Centro: Palm has never made attractive smartphones, but its newest kid on the block took every bad idea in Palm's arsenal and combined them into one shudder-inducing piece of hardware. I've seen bars of soap that have more personality than the Centro. And just because it is tiny, that doesn't mean it is hip. While small and thin has been the design mandate of late, the Centro is what happens when you let a 10-year-old design a smartphone.
Palm Treo 600: The Treo 600 may have really set the stage for what a smartphone should be with its larger screen and full qwerty keyboard, but, holy heck, what were its designers thinking? The ginormous stub antenna has to be the cause of countless groin injuries to people who stuffed the Treo 600 into their front pocket. Not only was the stub dangerous, the Treo 600 was so heavy that back and wrist problems were common complaints from those who carried it about. The one good thing about it was that mobile professionals on the road could skip going to the gym and do curls with the Treo 600 in their hotel room instead.
Samsung i760: This Windows Mobile smartphone is just hitting store shelves. You wouldn't know it is the supposed latest and greatest from Samsung, though. It's like the designers at Samsung were trying to emulate Picasso or Dali. If so, they failed miserably. The offset numeric keypad on the front and oddly-placed D-pad don't say Cubism, they say, "Stop smoking pot at work, you ninnies!"
Sierra Wireless Voq: The Voq takes the ultimate ugly prize. While we love Sierra's AirCards, the Voq venture was almost enough to make us doubt the Vancouver firm's sanity. The Voq was obviously intended to be Darth Vader's handset. It looks like an alien attack craft that's wearing a girdle. Its tough, science-fiction looks might be the in-thing in 2030, but 2005, it was just plain ahead of its time. Here is a link to a gallery of the above smartphones. Reader beware, eye protection is required at all times when viewing these phones!