I Miss Bold Smartphone Colors

Omar Zahran
5 min readFeb 17, 2023

Lamenting on the muted tones that have become standard with all flagship smartphones

Anyone that has talked to me for an extended period has heard me opine about the greatness of Windows Phone. But beyond the software that I loved on that ill-fated operating system, there was a bright and bold feel to Windows phones in the way that the phones were designed. These were phones that stood out in a crowd thanks to unique designs and in-your-face colors. There was the fire-engine red of the Nokia Lumia 1520, the luxurious deep blueish purple of the HTC 8X, the iconic taxi cab yellow of the Nokia Lumia 1020, and the lime green Nokia Lumia 930. These colors were making a statement, much like the operating system that ran on them.

And in that era, other companies followed suit. There were brilliant red phones from HTC (U11) and LG (G8), striking blue hues with devices like the Honor 8 and Google Pixel, and even a flirtation with gold from HTC, ZTE, and Apple. I think about these devices as I look at the color palettes available with Samsung’s latest flagship, the Galaxy S23 Ultra. The four color options (Green, Phantom Black, Lavender, and Cream) feel dull, to say the least. They feel like they are playing it safe, and they are not alone. Companies like Google, OnePlus, and Apple have all gone away from bright colors in favor of more conservative muted tones. Yet another move that has taken a lot of the fun out of the smartphone.

The Shift to Neutral

As the smartphone has matured, we have seen a lot of features be sacrificed in the name of minimalist design aesthetics. We saw the removable battery disappear because we wanted thinner and sleeker phones, we are currently witnessing the microSD and SIM card slots disappear in favor of less moving parts, and it is only a matter of time before the charging port suffers the same fate. There has been an obsession with minimalist design in tech for the last few years, but perhaps no segment of tech has adhered to this more than the smartphone.

A lot of times when useful ports are removed from phones we are brandished with sweeping statements about elegance…