There is no denying that Samsung has been the undisputed leader of the foldable race as of now and apart from one odd phone from Moto or Huawei no other manufacturer has been able to crack the code. Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi also showcased its Mi Mix Alpha but that remained as more of a proof-of-concept device rather than a commercially available phone.
But this doesn’t mean that Xiaomi has given up on the foldable. Just a few days back we heard that Xiaomi is planning to launch not one but three different foldable phones this year. Interestingly, all these devices are rumoured to be unique in terms of design with the first one supposed to fold outwards like the Huawei Mate foldable phone, the second to fold inwards like the Samsung’s Galaxy Fold and the last one could be a Z flip or Moto Razr styled clamshell phone.
Now the Dutch publication LetsGoDigital, known for keeping an eye on patents, has revealed that Xiaomi has patented seven different variants of foldable phones suggesting that the Chinese company plans to go big on the new dimension of smartphone design.
Xiaomi’s new foldable patents
These new patents awarded to the Chinese manufacturer comprise a couple of clamshell foldable designs with multiple camera setup and rest with a Galaxy Fold-like design with a tablet-sized display. Also, while we dig deeper into the information available to us and try to understand Xiaomi’s next move, we need to keep in mind that these are just patents at this point and the chances of us seeing them live in action depends on how the company assesses the market situation.
That said let us have a look at all these new designs:
Xiaomi Quad camera clamshell foldable phone
The device that is first in the line draws inspiration from the Galaxy Z Flip and according to the patent documents, it has two different variants. The primary difference between the two designs is the fact that one has a quad-camera setup aligned vertically while the other one has a large single camera sensor.
Barring this obvious difference, both the variants look identical with a large primary display that can be vertically folded and a small display on the flap that could be used to interact with the notifications and alerts.
Interestingly, when the device is unfolded it brings forth a notch-less display. This means that the selfie camera may be housed in a pop-up mechanism or since this is a very sleek design, Xiaomi may even place the selfie camera under the display. After all, this is going to be a premium yet functional design.
Other key details that we can see in the design are the presence of physical volume and power key apart from a charging slot, all located at their regular places.
Xiaomi clamshell foldable phone with a larger secondary display
Third, in the line is another clamshell foldable phone but with a design that is unseen but is slightly closer to the Moto Razr rather than the Galaxy Z Flip. You see a larger external display and a slightly thicker forehead while the Razr had a thicker chin. This itself makes the design unique as Xiaomi may have to work extra miles to ensure that the phone remains balanced when it is flipped open thanks to its top-heavy design.
Apart from this, you see a large vertical display and a dual-selfie camera setup on the forehead. On the rear, you have again have a triple-camera setup on one half and the other half a large secondary display.
Xiaomi’s inward foldable phone with a smaller secondary display
Coming to the larger devices that carry an obvious inspiration from Samsung’s Galaxy Fold lineup, the first couple of devices that we can see are the ones that have a large tablet sized inner display. The design seems more interesting when you notice the bare minimum bezels on the entire inner display.
While on the outside, you have a narrow and long secondary display. This could come in handy to check and respond to alerts while offering limited functionality otherwise. The absence of a selfie camera cutout is obvious and you can expect an in-display selfie camera on this one as well.
Xiaomi has patented two different variants for this design. The first one has a vertically aligned triple camera setup housed on the rear side of the device while the other one has a quad-camera setup. Apart from this, there doesn’t seem to be much different that can be identified from the patent documents.
Xiaomi’s inward foldable phone with a large secondary display
The last couple of designs from the patent document are two Galaxy Fold-like designs. However, unlike Samsung that uses two different displays for the Fold, Xiaomi is using one large display that starts from one half of the external panel and continues to form the main inner display.
This gives the phone a unique design where the external display looks like a curved panel when the phone remains in a folded position. Overall, in both situations, you can see a near bezel-less design. No visible selfie camera in the design document hints at the in-display selfie camera.
Xiaomi has patented two variants of this design. One with a quad rear camera setup and the other one bearing a massive circular camera sensor.