On Friday, a new patent was published for Xiaomi by the CNIPA for a smartphone design submitted in late-2019. We’ve seen a bunch of patents for smartphones in various form factors including foldable ones, and clamshell designs. Remember, just because an OEM patents a new design, doesn’t necessarily mean it will arrive to the mass market. That said, let’s look at the latest patent from Xiaomi.
At first glance, the foldable smartphone design looks a lot like Huawei’s Mate X foldable smartphone. Patent drawings slightly enhanced by LetsGoDigital show a device with a display that folds outwards, and features a bar where the phone is meant to be held. Not only is this the thickest component of the smartphone, but this bar also houses the device’s four cameras. There is no dedicated selfie camera(s), so these cameras will be used for closeups as well.
Much like the Mate X, there’s even a charging port at the bottom end of the camera “handle” which acts as a grip for the right hand while the phone is in the unfolded position. We wonder if the hinge will use a mechanism like the Mate X’s “Falcon Wing”. When folded, the screen wraps around the front and back of the phone with very small bezels. When opened, the screen turns into a large tablet surface, leaving the camera pointing to the back. Otherwise, when its closed, the side with the larger screen area becomes the main display.
Huawei’s Mate Xs is very expensive at around $2700 with limited market availability. Aside from its exceedingly high price point, Huawei’s Mate Xs doesn’t come with Google Services, which makes it hard to consider in Western markets over the only real other competition in this space: the Samsung Galaxy Fold.
If Xiaomi released a folding phone that could compete with the Mate Xs and the Galaxy Fold, there’d be another (possibly cheaper) alternative that will surely come with Google Play Services. Xiaomi has yet to release any folding smartphone to this day but based on the patent drawings we’ve seen, it is eager to do so.
It was over a year ago that Xiaomi teased its double-folding smartphone being used by the company’s co-founder, Lin Bin. Yet, Xiaomi has yet to release any folding smartphone. We wonder if 2020 will be the year that Xiaomi finally markets a folding device like the ones we’ve seen in leaks. Whatever Xiaomi is working on, it sure seems to be taking its time to figure out the kinks – especially after seeing what Samsung went through with the Galaxy Fold.