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Xiaomi patents a smartphone, smart speaker hybrid with rollable screen

It's a puzzling hybrid device, but could Xiaomi be on to something?

Published onMay 13, 2021

Xiaomi Mi 9 Pro 5G logo on back closeup
  • A new Xiaomi patent design sheds light on curious plans for a “smartphone.”
  • The device uses a cylindrical body with a pull-out screen, a bottom-firing speaker, and a triple rear camera array.

Smartphones are perceived as the cornerstone of the smart home. But a new Xiaomi design patent suggests a future smartphone could literally double as a smart speaker. The quirky design, spotted by LetsGoDigital, was filed in China in March 2020 but was only approved this week.

The design imagines a cylindrical device at its core reminiscent of a smart speaker. It’s complete with a single button mounted up top and a camera array at the rear. There’s no info on the sensors and lenses used here, but images suggest at least three snappers are in use.

Xiaomi also packs a roll-out display that unfurls from the cylinder when needed. It’s an elaborate way to include a screen, but it does mean the hybrid device can store and protect its display when not in use. The actual speaker is located at the bottom of the body, giving it a pepper shaker aesthetic. Xiaomi doesn’t reveal any particular specs for the speaker, so there’s no telling how much of a kick it could pack.

Smartphone or smart speaker?

Although LetsGoDigital calls it a smartphone, it would be pretty tough to place calls and type messages on this thing. Presumably, it’s Xiaomi’s twisty take on a smart display similar to the Google Nest Home Max or Amazon Echo Show. That said, there are no visible ports or slots for storage or charging, so it’s unclear how it would be powered throughout the day. It’s all quite curious.

The design also makes the device difficult to pocket. If it packs smart speaker hardware, it could be exceptionally weighty, too.

Would you buy a smartphone/smart speaker hybrid?

105 votes

This patent may be Xiaomi’s way of staking a claim in this particular design to ward off competitors. Xiaomi is known for its outlandish concepts, though, and many have hit the market. The Mi Mix Alpha, with its wrap-around display, comes to mind.

What do you think of Xiaomi’s quirky design? Would you purchase a smart speaker/smart home hub/smartphone hybrid? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, and be sure to vote in our poll above!

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