Leaker Evan Blass (@evleaks) has posted a video of an alleged folding Xiaomi smartphone. Blass posted the video yesterday saying he couldn’t attest to the authenticity of the device, but if it’s real, it would be our first glimpse of foldable phone from the Chinese manufacturer.
The video shows someone operating what looks like a small tablet in landscape mode. The user swipes through the app drawer before tapping on Google Maps to zoom in and out. Then the magic happens.
The person folds the left and right thirds of the tablet backward, turning the middle of the device into something resembling a curved screen smartphone. The interface reacts to this action as one might expect — objects like the search bar and status bar icons are repositioned to fit the smaller, visible display area.
Can’t speak to the authenticity of this video or device, but it’s allegedly made by Xiaomi, I’m told. Hot new phone, or gadget porn deepfake? pic.twitter.com/qwFogWiE2F
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) January 3, 2019
We also see the right side of the display being operated in the tablet mode when the user presses the location button, so it appears to be a functional curved touchscreen.
This folding design approach differs from the one Samsung showed off in November, which used two displays — a 4.5-inch outward facing screen and an inward-facing screen that folds out to 7.3 inches.
What exactly are we looking at?
Though Xiaomi has yet to confirm it, the company is probably working on a foldable phone. It’s one of the biggest global phone manufacturers and it won’t want to slip too far behind Samsung and Huawei in this regard, with LG and others also expected to join this market.
This device may be one of Xiaomi’s prototypes. The interface looks like the genuine Xiaomi MIUI software and the hardware seems too complex to be a straight fake.
However, a brighter version of the video appears to reveal no front-facing components, like camera or proximity sensors, or the earpiece speaker. The device possibly employs alternatives like bone conduction audio and an in-screen camera, but the most likely possibility at this stage is that this is a prototype.
If that’s the case, it means we may not see Xiaomi release an official product looking exactly like this, but we may see something like this — and possibly in 2019.
We know Samsung is well into folding phone development, and other OEMs have said they’re working on them, but this is the only other footage we’ve seen from a major OEM that looks like a genuinely viable folding phone.
Still, there are lots of questions that need to be answered. What would the phone look like from behind? Do the folded sides of the screen just hang there, flapping around? Or will they somehow snap into place?
How do the front and rear cameras work? Would it be a single sensor attached to the left or right side of the display, acting as the front camera when unfolded and rear camera when folded?
Will it have a headphone jack?
Hopefully, this is the opening of the floodgates for folding Xiaomi phone information and we’ll have more speculation to pour over soon. In the meantime, I’ll be around in the comments for a while to see what you folks have to say about this one!