Patent Bolt has come across some interesting Facebook patent applications from 2011 that seem indicate they may be (or were) working on their own smartphone. The hardware offers a interesting track pad interface, but overall, the mobile device is not completely outside the realm of smart phones on the market today. The breakdown below:
Side Mounted Touch Pad
This touchpad, running along the side of the device, seems to allow control of the device: "A user taps or strikes lightly on touchpad, and a gesture recognition library can interpret the user's touch input and identify the touch input corresponding to a tap event."
Based on the above flowchart, it looks like the touchpad would be used to control all aspects of the phone, such as the camera. This touchpad relies on users wanting to use a surface other than the screen to make their decisions — sort of like the mouse of the mobile device world. Facebook actually seems to have several touch pads on the device, so users have the ability to make preference choices.
While the track pad is an interesting feature that could set Facebook's device apart from the competition, the screen is basically an iPhone 5 screen with an oval home button. Not thrilling, but not bad either, and certainly in line with current trends.
Reports of a Facebook phone have been circulating since 2010 — and these designs are now several years old — so we wouldn't hold our breath on this one coming to your wireless store anytime soon.