It might sound unusual for a car manufacturer to build a phone, especially considering the fierce competition in the mobile industry, but Polestar's purpose is not to compete against the iPhone. The company wants to create a phone that seamlessly integrates into the vehicle, allowing users to instantly switch from the mobile screen to the infotainment display.
The device is a mysterious project right now, but here's everything we know.
Built in collaboration with Meizu
If Meizu sounds familiar, it's because the company has been around for 20 years, producing mid-range smartphones aimed at the Chinese market. It originally sold Windows CE phones but then made the switch to Android. Eventually, it developed a custom OS version based on Android called Flyme OS.
Meizu is also known in the tech world as the first company that launched a Linux phone. In 2015, it launched the MX4 Ubuntu Edition, a smartphone running Ubuntu Touch created as part of a partnership with Ubuntu developer Canonical.
The collaboration between Meizu and Polestar is not surprising. Meizu's majority stakeholder is Geely, the same company that owns Volvo, Polestar's parent company.
A premium smartphone
The phone's pricing is still unknown, but Ingenlath emphasized the device won't compete against the iPhone.
Apple controls 15.3 percent of the smartphone market in China, according to IDC data for the second quarter of this year. OPPO is the leader with 17.7 percent, followed by Vivo and Honor. Apple dominated the Chinese market in 2022, with the iPhone 13 becoming the best-selling model in the country. One in three iPhones sold in China last year was an iPhone 13, Counterpoint Research data revealed.
Polestar doesn't want its smartphone to be positioned as an iPhone alternative but as an extension of its car. The company will specifically target a niche – it wants Polestar 4 buyers to get the smartphone, so it's not aiming to gain market share in the mobile market. Its target is to create a seamless integration between its cars and the smartphone, so getting the Polestar phone without owning one of the brand's EVs won't make much sense.
Phone to run Flyme OS, car to run Flyme Auto
Meizu's Flyme Auto debuted earlier this year as a car operating system offering advanced functionality (you can find my detailed look at the operating system here), including smartphone integration. Flyme Auto was developed with this seamless transition from phone to car in mind, proving Polestar's plan to launch a phone in partnership with Meizu is not new.
The mobile device will run Flyme OS, the same operating system that powers Meizu's smartphones. It will not offer Google services out of the box, though getting them on the device will still be possible using alternative methods.
One of the main features will be the remote control of the Polestar 4. Carmakers offer such capabilities on iPhone and Android with dedicated companion apps, but the Polestar phone will pack options to turn on the car, adjust the air conditioning, or unlock the doors of the car natively. The system will come pre-loaded with the phone, allowing for easy pairing between Meizu and Polestar devices and vehicles.
Polestar's CEO specifically praised the seamless integration with the car, so I expect apps to mirror to the vehicle's infotainment screen similarly to Android Auto and CarPlay. App mirroring is an essential Flyme Auto feature, but with the Polestar 4, the carmaker aims to instantly transition an app or phone call from the mobile device to the vehicle. The apps running on the mobile device will switch to the car when you get behind the wheel, letting you pick up from where you left off on the phone.
Polestar did not reveal the exact timing when the smartphone could launch, but with the Polestar 4 scheduled to debut later this year, it's a matter of months until the mobile device sees daylight. Pricing is unknown, but considering the premium tag, I expect it to carry a $1,000 price tag in China.