Xiaomi's release of the Mi Mix changes the standard design of a smartphone as the general public has come to accept. The new unit's practically bezel-less design innovates the overdone equation for a handheld. However, it might have just preemptively beaten Apple's plans for the iPhone 8.
As Engadget notes, the Mi Mix was a very well kept secret and surprised everyone during the Xiaomi event earlier this week. It sports a 6.4 inch, edge-to-edge 1080p LCD screen, which has a full ceramic body and buttons. The unit has no earpiece or proximity sensor, which allows for an undisturbed design.
The Xiaomi Mi Mix is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor and an incredible 4,400mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0 support. Consumers can choose between 4GB or 6GB of RAM, as well as 128GB or 256GB of internal storage. Furthermore, the unit sports a fingerprint scanner, a 16 megapixel rear camera and a 5 megapixel front camera.
And while these specifications are quite stellar, what truly sets the Mi Mix apart is definitely its design. For the longest time, one smartphone generally looked like another, at least in terms of silhouette. What set them most apart was always material, thickness and screen size. This new device from Xiaomi, however, removes the bezels that have become standard in the industry.
In order to create this innovative design, Xiaomi partnered up with French designer Philippe Starck. Global VP Hugo Barra admitted that the partnership actually began in 2014, with Starck acting as the project's high-level director. What resulted from years of development and experimentation was a bezel-less design that is both beautiful to look at and still incredibly efficient.
The Mi Mix lacks an earpiece and infrared proximity sensor, which allows for the edge-to-edge display that occupies an amazing 91.3 percent of the available surface space. To replace the lacking earpiece, Xiaomi included a cantilevered piezoelectric actuator behind the glass, which will be responsible for producing sound for phone calls. As for the proximity sensor, there is instead ultrasound.
The ultrasound proximity sensing - an absolute first for the smartphone industry - was made possible by Elliptic Labs. The company's CEO Laila Danielsen has admitted that the technology has previously been explored before, but that it was too complicated to actually be realized. "We know that many other smartphone manufacturers have been trying to do that, but they're not able to because it's really difficult," she said.
One of these smartphone companies that has been trying out this technology, is Apple. As 9to5Mac notes, there have been various concept images for the iPhone 8 that have the same bezel-less design. This is only a rumor, as Apple's actual plans for its anniversary phone is still unknown, but it is definitely a possibility. As such, it might be that the smaller company has beat its much larger competition to the innovation that would have again put the iPhone on the map.
The Xiaomi Mi Mix will be available in China starting November 4th. The lower end model will sell for 3,499 Yuan (US$516). Meanwhile, the higher end option will cost around 3,999 Yuan (US$590). These prices are more than what Xiaomi normally asks for, but it is still within the realm of reason.