Late last year, LetsGoDigital obtained a research report from the Korean research agency CGS-CIMB Research. In this report, Xiaomi was first associated with the foldable smartphone. This source reported that Xiaomi would introduce a foldable smartphone in the second half of 2019.
More than two weeks ago, the Chinese manufacturer publicly stated that it has a folding smartphone in development indeed. Lin Bin, co-founder and CEO of Xiaomi, published a video showing a bendable smartphone prototype. The smartphone with a flexible display has a very unique design that can be folded twice. The display is on the outside and is folded around the housing.
Lin Bin reports with the video that the manufacturer has already overcome several technical problems, such as the flexible display, the folding mechanism, and the MIUI adjustment. The symmetric double-folded design perfectly combines the experience of the tablet and a mobile phone, which is both practical and beautiful, according to the CEO. Two names are currently being considered for the prototype; Xiaomi Dual Flex and Xiaomi MIX Flex; the company is still open to suggestions …
3D visualization of the foldable Xiaomi smartphone
Now that Xiaomi has confirmed that it has a collapsible phone in development, it is high time to show this special device. LetsGoDigital has had a series of professional 3D visualizations designed based on the foldable Xiaomi smartphone that can be seen in the teaser video.
The smartphone folds open to a slim tablet with very thin screen edges. You can fold the two sides of the screen and then close seamlessly, exactly in the middle, on the back of the device. It is a very elegant design! Once folded, you have a relatively short, wide telephone at your disposal. The smartphone is also remarkably thin. The on/off button can be found on the top, while the bottom offers space for a USB Type-C connection.
The user interface will, however, deviate from our 3D renders; Xiaomi will apply a modified version of its MIUI interface. The video shows that the interface works very smoothly. There is a remarkable amount of space between the app icons. In addition, the promotion video of Xiaomi shows that the interface is rotating. This way, once you have unfolded it, you can operate the elongated tablet with one hand. The fold lines of the screen are then on the side, instead of on the top and bottom.
Unfortunately, much remains unclear about the camera. The video clearly shows a camera icon, from which we conclude that the device is, in any case, provided with a camera. However, no camera can be seen around the screen. And we also could not recognize a camera on the back, possibly under the hand of the CEO. Because if the camera is placed on the back, it remains possible to take selfies by folding just one part of the screen.
Another alternative is that the camera is placed under the screen, but this does not seem likely. Finally, this technology is not even available for regular displays, to apply this with flexible screens will be even more difficult.
Xiaomi: a handful of prototypes available
Following the recent developments, LetsGoDigital contacted Xiaomi. The Global PR team from Xiaomi Inc. prepared to comment this morning. Xiaomi has confirmed to LetsGoDigital that the phone is currently extensively tested in the lab; there are currently only a handful of prototypes available.
The design, folding mechanism, and the MIUI user interface adjustments have been developed by Xiaomi itself. The flexible folding screen is developed in cooperation with a partner. For the time being, it is unclear when Xiaomi will commercialize its foldable smartphone.
Xiaomi smartphones on MWC 2019
On 24 February 2019, one day before MWC 2019 starts, Xiaomi will hold a press conference. Here the first 5G smartphone of the company will be revealed. It is a 5G version of the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 launched last year, a beautiful full-screen smartphone with a retractable camera. The recently presented and affordable Redmi Note 7 with a 48-megapixel camera will also be on display at the fair.
Possibly, the Chinese manufacturer has more surprises in store this year. For example, a recent patent shows that Xiaomi may also have a smartphone with a dual punch-hole camera in development. The first smartphones with a hole in the display for the selfie camera (or a punch-hole camera) are now presented; think of the Samsung Galaxy A9s and the Honor View 20. A double punch-hole camera is not yet on the market.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus is probably the first smartphone with a double punch-hole camera; the chances are that Xiaomi will follow soon. The innovative manufacturer also seems to be seeing a future in a smartphone with a 4-sided edge display. Just like Samsung, which recently patented a similar smartphone with a borderless display.
It is simply a bit too early for an official introduction of the Xiaomi foldable smartphone. Finally, only a handful of prototypes are available now. It will take some time before mass production can be started.
It is possible that Xiaomi will introduce her folding smartphone in the second half of 2019, as stated in the research report from Korea. That does not mean, however, that the device will not be present at MWC 2019 at all. Perhaps the smartphone in the back room is shown to a selective company.