Xiaomi’s no stranger to far-out concept phones. In a new teaser, the Chinese phone maker is pushing things to the extreme with a concept handset that features waterfall edges that wrap around all four sides of the device.
Apparently the concept is so futuristic Xiaomi couldn’t even give it a proper name, but in many ways it represents an evolution of the Mi Mix Alpha concept from 2019. Xiaomi claims the curved glass, which bends 88 degrees down each side of the phone, has “virtually broken through the technological limits of glass production.” While that claim certainly sounds impressive, it might be a bit of stretch. The sides of the phone have nice rounded edges, but it seems Xiaomi couldn’t get glass to wrap around the corners of the phone, which results in small diagonal cutouts in each corner of the screen.
Another impact of those waterfall edges is that because there’s glass everywhere, there isn’t really any room for ports, so Xiaomi didn’t include any. Instead, Xiaomi says the traditional volume rocker, earpiece speaker, and power button can be replaced with new innovations like a built-in pressure sensor, flexible acoustic film, and ultra-thin piezoelectric ceramics.
With this concept, Xiaomi is really pushing the idea of a port-free, unibody phone, and while it’s somewhat of a foregone conclusion that the industry will get there at some point, I don’t think people are ready for portless phones yet — now or even in the next few years. In addition to portless phones posing a big issue when it comes to repairability, they will also need a new generation of accessories to keep them going. Those include Xiaomi’s fancy long-range wireless charger, which the company claims can power up devices from a few meters away (instead of millimetres like we have now). But the problem there is that Xiaomi’s long-range wireless charger is huge, and currently can only output around 5 watts of power compared to the 15 watts or more we get from Qi wireless chargers.
However, one thing I do like is the way Xiaomi uses the curved glass and screen to display notifications, battery levels, and signal strength on the side of the device. Not only does it look pretty slick, but if you’re gonna go through the trouble of bending glass like this, you damn well better use the added real estate for something. It’s a bold statement from Xiaomi in a time when Samsung — who was previously one of the biggest proponents of curvy glass screen — has recently shift backed to flat displays with the Galaxy S21 and S21+.
Xiaomi claims this concept is the result of 46 different patents, so it’s clear the company is thinking big with its latest concept phone. And while so many concept devices exist solely as renders, according to Xiaomi PR, there’s at least one working prototype of this phone out there, which suggests it might actually be available to buy one day.