Remember the Mi Mix Alpha? It was Xiaomi’s insane concept smartphone whose display curved from the front to the back, achieving an unrivalled screen-to-body ratio of over 180%. Today, the company has followed it up with another concept whose display extends to all sides but the back.
Simply called the “Quad-curved Waterfall display” concept smartphone, the device’s screen curves sharply on all four sides — not just the sides but also the top and bottom. The 88-degree sharp curves mean that the phone has no space for the buttons and the USB port, allowing for a port-free unibody design.
Meet our first #QuadCurvedWaterfallDisplay concept smartphone. Everything you see on the display flows over the edges smoothly and seamlessly, just like water. 🌊 #InnovationForEveryone pic.twitter.com/8pwo80qKhlFebruary 5, 2021
A closer look also reveals that it’s not the entire front of the device that’s covered by the screen, as tiny bits of the corners are still retained. Along with improved structural integrity, those areas are also essential to fit the display drivers and other tech. For the foreseeable future, not being able to have displays along a corner is going to be an engineering limitation.
While this is just a concept, there are some glaring questions that remain unanswered currently: what about the selfie camera? Will the interface have to be customized to make better use of the curves without letting the content get cut? How will durability concerns be addressed? Most importantly, what about palm-rejection, which are bound to be amplified by these extreme curves?
The #QuadCurvedWaterfallDisplay concept smartphone has no ports or buttons. It’s a major advance towards a truly port-free unibody smartphone future. #InnovationForEveryone pic.twitter.com/K3WQ7gIXXuFebruary 5, 2021
Curved displays have been a point of debate for years in the tech community. On one hand, they provide a better viewing experience and make the smartphone look a lot more futuristic, while on the other, they don’t add much to the daily user experience and take up more space on the inside.
Add the fact that most of the common smartphones with curved displays, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, suffer from accidental touches, and the animosity is understandable. However, phones such as the Vivo Nex 3 and the Huawei P40 Pro handle regular usage just fine, even with a higher degree of bending.
Since it’s not coming to a production smartphone any time soon, we expect Xiaomi to figure out those challenges over time. After all, it is just another step towards the portless smartphones of the future. Perhaps some of our questions will be answered next week, when the Mi 11 is unveiled globally on February 8.