Unihertz TickTock rugged 5G phone has a smartwatch on its back

We've seen quite a few quirky smartphones over the years and some of them even managed to become "standard" for a time, like the ones with popup selfie cameras. Among the unique handsets are those that have secondary screens on their backs, whether it's a full-sized e-paper display or a smaller window. Unihertz, maker of the world's tiniest 4G phones, is taking a stab at the rear display concept, but is giving its model a unique twist by essentially using a smartwatch as its secondary display.

There are actually a few good reasons why you might want to have a display on the back of your phone, especially if it's just a small one. For example, it could be used to display notifications while keeping the main screen off, potentially saving some battery life. It can also be used to take selfies with the main cameras rather than having to compromise with a typically lower quality front-facing shooter.

There are a few good reasons you'd want a smartwatch-shaped display on the back of a phone beyond the novelty, as well, and it's no surprise the design comes from Unihertz, the company that gave us the Jelly 2. The unique round display isn't just for show.

The TickTock's sub-screen, as Unihertz calls it, almost looks and acts like a smartwatch, even if the company isn't calling it that. Users can, for example, set a watch face for the screen. The "smartwatch" element shows the current time and lets users interact with notifications, including answering and dismissing inbound calls. The rear display also functions as a "mirror" for when you want to use the main camera for selfies, though the single 48MP sensor might not sound impressive.

The rest of the specs sound like something you'd get from a typical mid-range rugged phone, one that is, in this case, powered by a MediaTek Dimensity 700 5G processor with 5G of RAM. This model does manage to pack a bunch of features, though, including two customizable buttons. TickTock also looks like a rugged phone with a chunky body.

The Unihertz TickTock runs on Android 11, but the company isn't saying much about the software powering the smartwatch on its back. That element could be a wildcard as it may make support and updates more difficult, but it wouldn't be too surprising if it turned out to be Wear OS. TickTock, the smartphone with a smartwatch, is currently on Kickstarter with a special $300 price tag for backers, and it seems that its oddity has already ensured its success, at least as crowdfunding goes.

Unique doesn't mean Successful

The Unihertz TickTock definitely adds a unique twist to the old dual-display smartphone, but that might not always translate to commercial success despite very positive Kickstarter numbers. The smartphone industry has been filled with anecdotes about similarly innovative and quirky designs that were popular on paper but never survived the test of time. Some even came from big brands, proving how fickle the market can sometimes be.

The Samsung Galaxy Round and LG G Flex (as seen above), for example, both tried to sway consumers to the idea of a curved phone, though it took the idea in literally different directions. ZTE even harnessed the wisdom of the crowd to design and develop a phone that could stick to walls and be controlled using your eyes. None of these phones made it far, and the ZTE Hawkeye was even canceled before it could be made.

It doesn't stop at phones, either, and some of the oddest designs we've seen cover a variety of consumer electronics. The Runcible pocket watch (pictured above) looks almost nothing like a pocket watch with its wooden rear. While it could have appealed to designers, it wasn't enough for the Runcible to be a runaway success. Then again, many of the developments in mobile devices also started out as seemingly insane concepts and designs, and it's something you might want to consider before investing in a Kickstarter project that may or may not be able to deliver its promises in the end.