Xiaomi has recently submitted to the China National Intellectual Property Administration two concepts for possible foldable smartphones. But, probably we will not see them as a commercial product.
Xiaomi has not yet entered the folding smartphone market. Therefore, any related patents that the company publishes are carefully watched, as they may contain clues as to what to expect from the future.
Xiaomi foldable: One of the patents refers us to Huawei Mate X
In the first document, we have a smartphone that would fold horizontally and the screen would be constantly exposed. Basically, we have the same concept used by Huawei in its Mate X.
When opened we would have a device with a screen above 8 inches. A dimension that comes closer to a tablet than a smartphone. When folded, its size would naturally be more ergonomic.
The big drawback of this approach is the constant exposure of the screen, something that enhances the fragility of the device. Some may compare this exposure with current conventional smartphones, but the cost of repairing this screen would be substantially higher.
Another idea brings us a Moto Razr with always exposed screen
The second design patent actually shows off a vertically-folding smartphone. This device is considerably different than anything else we’ve seen as it folds outwards.
Pretty much every vertically-folding handset that we’ve seen has a display on the inside. Well, not this one, not at all. This phone not only has its display on the outside, but it’s also quite a bold design.
When folded, you get bezels on three sides, bottom, left, and right. Those bezels are extremely thin, while the top bezel is non-existent. On the back, you’ll notice that the vast majority of the phone is also covered by the display, though the bezel on the bottom is thicker.
Inside of that display on the back sits the camera module. That camera module is quite large, and when unfolded, using this phone will be quite odd. We cannot imagine using that display with such a huge camera module on it.
This is a concept that we hardly see any reason to materialize. Especially by using a “hole in the screen” for its dual camera and flash.
If Xiaomi has bothered to patent these ideas, it is because, at some point, its engineers came up with equipment of this design. Looking at the current landscape of folding smartphones, I would say that none of these patents would become a triumphant device for the Chinese company.