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Ambitious Xiaomi patent wraps a sliding phone in a flexible screen

We're not sure how useful such a design would be, but it looks cool at least.

Published onSeptember 21, 2020

  • Xiaomi has filed design patents for a phone with a sliding phone wearing a flexible, wrap-around display.
  • Unlike traditional sliders, this phone’s display slides along the device’s front and rear.

Xiaomi‘s latest smartphone patent seemingly puts a spin on the sliding smartphone concept by adding a flexible wraparound display.

The patent, spotted by German site WindowsUnited (h/t Gizmochina), doesn’t immediately seem all that bizarre, though. The phone design sports a large display up front that exposes a set of selfie cameras when slid downwards. In effect, we’ve seen Xiaomi do something similar with the Mi Mix 3 before. But there’s a notable difference between that more traditional slider and this design.

This device’s display wraps around the phone’s bottom edge and covers most of its rear, too. Effectively, the entire screen slides on the phone’s body. This means that if the front of the phone’s screen is slid down to reveal those selfie cameras, the screen on the back of the phone slides upward, presumably covering the phone’s rear cameras.

Xiaomi’s design is a nifty way to give users more screen on a typically-sized device, and would likely make a statement like the Mi Mix Alpha. But like the Alpha, this design just doesn’t seem practical.

Xiaomi’s concept, even with its larger overall display, wouldn’t add much to the user experience. Users will likely still only be able to use either the front or back portion of the flexible screen at any given time, so this design doesn’t benefit multitaskers much.

There’s also the use of moving parts which breed more possible failure points. Getting dust or grit in the sliding mechanism could be problematic, and using a flexible display as a backplate — considering how delicate flexible screens still are — could spell disaster for careless users. Either way, such a device would be far more of a liability than traditional slates.

We’ve seen similar concepts from the likes of HUAWEI using a flexible screen with a sliding mechanism in a design that promises users a larger display in a fairly compact body. But the specific design philosophy Xiaomi is employing was also envisioned by Samsung in a seemingly smaller, more compact device.

As we always tend to mention with these patent filings, companies won’t go out of their way to make these devices a reality. Often firms simply patent ideas to ensure rivals can’t create a device using these designs. That said, we’ve also seen a lot of wacky concepts from Xiaomi this year, including phones with bunny ears and detachable screens.

If Xiaomi does create a device based on this patent filing, expect it to be a proof-of-concept, rather than a device primed to take on the newer form factors of the smartphone world.

Next: The best foldable phones money can buy

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