Xiaomi raises expectations of foldable smartphones

Even in January, Xiaomi gave indications regarding their plans for a foldable smartphone. Enthusiasts and the curious minded ones just can’t wait to get their hands on one – or at least to know more details about it. Of the numerous trends we have seen during the last decade and for most of the “smartphone years,” this is one of the most ingenious moves. And of course, it is a well welcomed move too.

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The patented phone with its double folding design was flaunted by Xiaomi, the Chinese smartphone company as early as January of this year. It seems they are part of the earliest ones to step into this new arena of design. Yet their willingness to create this design and their boldness to take the risk is to be appreciated.

Replacing Tabs and Laptops?

For some people, this unique design will alleviate their tablets and laptops completely. They won’t need to carry another device in their purse or briefcases. Their “tab” will be in their pocket in the form of a foldable smartphone. So this foldable smartphone will take us to the next level in many ways.

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The smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi has filed for the patent at the European Union Intellectual Property Office. This is another indicator that they would be launching the product not only in China but in other countries as well. This is a smart move for Xiaomi as they can gauge the acceptance and customer response. If the response is positive, they have the option to launch the device outside China to various other countries as well.

The market for foldable smartphones is open across Asia and beyond. Of course, Xiaomi will begin their production in China, but the interest in the device will be much beyond China. The Asian market is ever expanding and the ones who prefer the high end smartphones will be open to try the foldable smartphones by Xiaomi. The western nations will also have a huge number of innovative customers willing to take the leap into this new realm.

Xiaomi’s president Lin Bin presented a video with a prototype of their proposed version of the foldable smartphone. Although it was still in the development stages, they presented a working model that people could observe. On their announcement, they asked for viewers opinions as well. They asked for their response to gauge the amount of interest in the product. They mentioned that if there was sufficient interest, they would move on to mass production. The working prototype of their first foldable smartphone was an ingenious presentation for the public to see and to evaluate.

This foldable smartphone by Xiaomi folds from both the left and right sides. When it is unfolded, it becomes almost like a small tab. In fact for people who use small size tabs, this device will serve both functions seamlessly. But when folded, it will be like a common candybar type of a traditional smartphone.

The Competition

Other companies producing foldable smartphones approach their folding technology differently. The direction of the fold differs from company to company. Once the use and testing by the public reveals the best option, we will see more of such a type that is most convenient to customers.

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Xiaomi president Lin Bin, also a co-founder, posted a video and gave information on the new foldable smartphone on Weibo. You can view the video and get an early view of the concept of the design. The presentation of the product reveals the reason for the cumulating interest in the new device.

The presentation in the video is clear and shows the device as a handy product that is easy to use. The touch seems to work seamlessly even on the folding area as well. Touching on various apps and opening different functions will work just as well as a regular smartphone that we are all used to.

Cameras and Features

The patent presented by Xiaomi shows the back with a triple camera setup. This may be just the presentation of the model, and the actual product will be a surprise when released. In either case, such a presentation reveals their plans for a product with features that are advanced enough for a product meant for cutting edge customers.

The images and video do not give any clues if there will be a front facing camera at all. Since there is no cut out to show the presence of a front camera, things are uncertain. But they could be relying on their under-display camera that they’ve unveiled in June of this year.

Some of the images indicate the presence of the triple camera. Yet no information is available on the sensors. The charging port seems to be the symmetrical USB Type-C version. The standard 3.5 mm headphone jack can also be expected. For some manufacturers, the trend seems to be to avoid the headphone jack. This poses a concern for many, but there are alternatives.

Much detail has not been provided, but we must wait and see.  Other manufacturers are also in a hurry to finalize their designs and get to the market quickly. The progress is being followed by so many. It is just a matter of time when the products actually come out.

Name the Device

Readers of the presentation by Lin Bin gives a request for them to suggest names for the device as they have not settled on a name. Some suggestions are Mi Mix Flex and Mi Dual Flex, or Mi Fold. The request for reader suggestions are genuine, but they do have some names in mind.

Xiaomi has done extensive research on the folding mechanism. As the first of its kind, they wish for the design to be flawless from the beginning. Their research seems to suggest that the outward double folding pattern is the best design for this form factor. Since the product is not out yet, we don’t have much further information than what they’ve given the public.

Considering the number of companies jumping on the bandwagon we can expect to see this product before long. The extra convenience needs to be presented to the public. But will this become the trend? This may become a pattern where every manufacturer begins to mass produce foldable smartphones as a regular feature.

All this may have started with the increasing desire for larger screens on phones. People want an option other than their laptops and tabs, and they want it in their pockets. But the larger the phones get, the more difficult to fit into people’s pockets. At the same time, the desire increases for larger screens.

Inevitably, the answer seems to be foldable smartphones with the option for larger screens. This seems to be the best of both worlds. You can have the phones small enough to fit into your shirt pocket, but the screens are large enough to be like a small tab.

The talk about foldable smartphones has been going on for a long time. But only recently are we seeing this as a reality and finally seeing it in our hands and in our pockets. Along with this, a great flow of different companies stepping into this realm seems to be just around the corner. This may not be a product that is just on the fringes, but one that will rule the market in the near future.

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An advantage with the Android platform is that adjustments won’t be needed in the software. The Android OS already has a feature called “Screen Continuity” to enable the flexibility of adjusting the visual aspects according to how the user folds the device. As soon as the device is unfolded, the software adjusts itself for the wide and larger screen. But when it’s folded, the image or page size will automatically get adjusted.

This feature that the Android OS already has inbuilt will allow for the apps to function without much adjustments or tweaks. Otherwise, only a limited number of apps would be useable with the foldable smartphones. But with this inbuilt feature in the software, the options are so much broader.

Google has prompted developers to move one step further and to begin adjusting their software to take advantage of the extra flexibility that is available with the foldable smartphones. Developers are advised to add features such as Multi-resume, and Multi-display along with the inbuilt Screen Continuity. In the Android Q beta, several of these changes are already present.

Customers will have multiple benefits with this new approach to smartphone technology. It’s definitely the best of both worlds with a larger screen and a smaller size when folded. But the extra fold allows for more flexibility in various ways. Some manufacturers such as Samsung plans to feature a 7.3 inch screen with an aspect ratio of 4.3:3. It will flaunt 12GB of RAM and a hefty 512GB internal memory storage. Their Galaxy Fold will come with two batteries of 2,190mAh capacity on each one to total 4,380mAh total. Both batteries will be working in tandem to provide the extra battery backup.

Along with this new design comes the extra features and the extra price as well. As these products hit the market, the first customers will be the ones willing to take the leap with their pockets. They will be investing into the research and development of these new products. The premium price may be out of reach for many people, but it will certainly be the talk of the town. Those willing and capable of spending the extra amount will take the first step into this new realm.

 

 

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