It's no secret that Xiaomi is hard at work on a foldable smartphone to challenge the likes of the Huawei Mate X and the Samsung Galaxy Fold. The company has already published a short teaser video to reveal the design, which folds twice – a different approach from every other foldable we've seen so far.
The handset doesn't have an official name yet, though it may turn out to be called the Xiaomi Dual Flex, Xiaomi MIX Flex or, as in this video, the Xiaomi Mi Fold. What we do know about the Xiaomi prototype is that it keeps its foldable screen on the outside of the device at all times, like the Huawei Mate X, and unlike the Samsung Galaxy Fold, which keeps its flexible screen on the inside and opens like the pages of a paperback.
Both sides of the folding Xiaomi phone can be folded backwards to create a smartphone-like form factor from the middle portion of the 10-inch OLED screen.
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Prolific YouTube channel TechConfigurations has mocked-up a video of the Xiaomi folding phone based on the recent footage of the folding phone released by the company, as well as whispers from the supply chain about the forthcoming flagship.
Watch the full video below:
According to the video, the Mi Fold will embed its front-facing selfie camera into the edge-to-edge flexible display. Samsung uses this technique on its flagship Galaxy S10 range, but has opted for a sweeping notch in the top right-hand corner of the so-called Infinity Flex display on its foldable handset. To complete the all-screen design, Xiaomi will seemingly embed the fingerprint scanner beneath the OLED display.
A pair of flexible joints bookend the 6.5-inch OLED display, which can be used to unfurl the additional screen stored against the rear case to extend the display to a whopping 10-inch – around the size of most tablets. Elsewhere, TechConfigurations envisions dual stereo speakers flanking that impressive screen to ensure that watching films on the Xiaomi Mi Fold is as enjoyable as possible.
As you'd expect from a modern Android smartphone, syncing, charging and wired audio output is handled via USB-C. There's also a triple-camera on the back of the device, which will presumably handle bokeh-style portrait shots.
Xiaomi has previously stated that it has updated its Android-based OS, known as MIUI, to contend with these dual-folds. As such, the smartphone is able to run in double folded, single folded, and tablet modes – with the user interface and apps adapting to the available screen real estate.
Since third-party Android apps are designed to run on a multitude of different screen sizes anyway, there shouldn't be any problem with these expanding and contracting as smartphone owners fold down corners of their device.
In a statement confirming its plans to launch a foldable smartphone, Xiaomi Global PR told LetsGoDigital: "The double folding smartphone is the latest innovation by Xiaomi. One of the key components of the phone, the flexible folding screen, is co-developed by Xiaomi and its supply chain partner. Aside from the screen, its design, folding mechanism and MIUI adaptation are developed by us.
"Xiaomi is first in the world to present a double folding smartphone and has the same technical challenges posed in its three different form factors – double folded, single folded, and tablet form. Prior to finding the best solution, Xiaomi has conducted extensive research into the development of a robust folding mechanism.
"Each innovation is the result of joint, cumulative R&D efforts from supply chain partners and the device manufacturer. It is misguided to think a folding screen can be easily turned into a folding smartphone without significant breakthroughs in technology. Each segment of the industrial chain has its unique contribution.
"Xiaomi believes that innovative products and great user experience are possible with sound collaboration and participation from all parties."
Google has also pledged to update its Android mobile OS to support folding smartphones and tablets – dubbed "foldables" – most likely with the arrival of Android 10.0 later this year. Until then, the company has settled with issuing best practice guidelines to developers to future-proof their apps.