One of the weirdest Windows-based phones of 2016 is now one of the weirdest Android phones of 2017.
A Japanese company named Trinity has unveiled a "reloaded" version of last year's NuAns Neo. Called the Neo Reloaded, the $440 phone comes with one major difference compared to last year's model: it's running on Android Nougat instead of Windows, which was the operating system included with last year's version.
The smartphone is, at first blush, a regular device, featuring a midrange Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, Quick Charge support, and a 5.2-inch Full HD display. There's also a Sony "high-performance camera."
However, what really sets apart the Neo Reloaded is its design, which is based on what NuAns calls the Core concept. The Core is essentially a smartphone without a rear panel, allowing you to cover that with a slew of materials, including wood and leather. You can also opt for the company's Flip, an accessory that essentially turns the back panel of the device into a kickstand-and-wallet-case combo.
NuAns believes that a swappable back panel makes its device more interesting and will let you customize its features to your liking. But it also means that you'll need to cut through the different material to find what you like.
The approach sounds a lot like the Moto X, which let you customize the look of your phone to your heart's content. Moto and LG also have recently trotted out modular phones — the Moto Z Droid and LG G5, respectively — which let you swap in different accessories, including back panels. LG is reportedly dropping the modularity concept from the successor the G5 when the LG G6 makes its expected debut at Mobile World Congress this month.
NuAns came on the scene last year in a Kickstarter campaign in which it hoped to raise $725,000. Known as the NuAns Neo back then, the device ran Windows 10 Mobile and promised delivery to customers as early as last November. While it initially garnered some attention, it only attracted 489 backers and raised just $142,368, far below its goal. That's hardly surprising, given how Android and iOS devices dominate the mobile market. Last week, research firm Gartner said that Windows Mobile devices had only a 0.3 percent share of the global smartphone market.
In a statement discovered by Digital Trends this week, the NuAns Neo team said that its goal is to make the device available to as many people as possible. And it now believes that Google's Android platform, which is dominating the worldwide mobile operating system market, can help it achieve that.
The NuAns Neo Reloaded is expected to reach store shelves in May. The device will go for $440 when it reaches store shelves.