Here’s the worst thing I saw at IFA 2023 — a purse that’s not a purse


IFA 2023 is a proving ground for a lot of weird and wonderful things, but none piqued our interest more than the idea of the Honor V Purse. It’s a foldable phone that’s supposed to double as, you guessed it, a purse. That’s what Honor claims, anyway, but in reality this device is as un-purse-like as a Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5.

I can get behind the Honor V Purse’s general idea. This is a foldable phone that keeps the foldable display on the outside, meaning both halves of its screen are visible at all times. The idea here is that the V Purse is supposed to be a fashion accessory that you can wear out in the world. The wearer then gets to decide what’s displayed on the screen, meaning that they have some sort of accessory for every occasion and outfit.

So far so good. The V Purse even has a chain to help carry it around, but that’s about as close as it gets to functioning like an actual purse. The problem is that the V Purse is literally just a phone, with no ability to carry things around. Worse still, you’re expected to carry the device around in the least secure manner imaginable - with an emphasis on it being in full view of the people around you.

hinor v purse with chain at ifa 2023
hinor v purse with chain at ifa 2023

I may not be a purse expert, or even the desired target audience for such things, but I’ve always assumed that the whole point of a purse is the ability to put stuff inside it. Big or small, fashionable or plain, the holding ability is the purse’s raison d’etre. Without that you just end up with an annoying lump you have to carry around for no good reason.

So really the Honor V Purse is just a phone with a chain on it. It’s a very purse-like chain to my untrained eye, but the chain isn’t what makes a purse a purse — and neither do Honor’s purse-like wallpapers.

Had Honor wrapped a foldable phone screen around some sort of clutch and thrown that on stage at IFA, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. We’d be talking about how delightfully ridiculous the idea is, and possibly even praising the fact that Honor developed an actual purse for just about every occasion.

Instead we got what looks like a refurbished version of the Huawei Mate Xs, and find ourselves at the other end of the ridiculous spectrum. Instead of being kooky and silly, it’s downright perplexing.

honor v purse on display at ifa
honor v purse on display at ifa

Though, if I’m being totally honest, I shouldn't be all that surprised. Every few years tech companies seem to forget that women regularly buy technology and gadgets just like men. So they take it upon themselves to launch products directly marketed and brand as being “for” women, often with copious amounts of pink thrown into the mix.

The problem is these products always seem like they’ve been designed and developed without consulting any actual women. They arrive, get ridiculed, and then disappear into the void where internet mockery does not exist.

Like 3D displays, smart fridges and companies called X, “lady tech” is one of those ideas that keeps popping up every few years, despite the fact nobody wants or asked for it. Because apparently tech bros can’t remember much past their last quarterly earnings report.

The good news is that the Honor V Purse is a concept device, and isn’t actually going on sale. But there was absolutely no reason why Honor couldn’t have gone all in on something completely bonkers but still somewhat interesting.

I’ve seen concept devices of flexible displays wrapped around all sorts of crazy things, including retro-looking TVs, toasters and even smartwatches. There’s no reason why Honor couldn’t have added to that growing list, but with a concept that had the potential to offer some kind of practical value.

Instead we got a phone cosplaying as a purse.

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