Ambitious Xiaomi patent wraps a sliding phone in a flexible screen

  • Xiaomi has applied for design patents for a phone with a sliding phone that carries a flexible wrap-around display.
  • Unlike traditional sliders, this phone’s display slides along the front and back of the device.

Xiaomi’s latest smartphone patent appears to be changing the concept of the sliding smartphone by adding a flexible wraparound display.

The patent, discovered by the German side WindowsUnited (h / t Gizmochina) but doesn’t seem so bizarre right away. The phone design has a large front display that shows a number of selfie cameras when they slide down. In fact, we’ve seen Xiaomi do something similar with the Mi Mix 3. But there is a notable difference between this more traditional slider and this design.

The display of this device wraps around the bottom edge of the phone and also covers most of its back. In fact, the entire screen slides on the phone body. This means that when the front of the phone screen is slid down to view these selfie cameras, the screen on the back of the phone will slide up, presumably covering the phone’s rear cameras.

Xiaomi’s design is a nifty way of giving users more screen on a normal-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 wouldn’t add much to the user experience even with its larger overall display. Users will likely still only be able to use the front or back of the flexible screen at any one time, so multitaskers won’t benefit much from this design.

There is also the use of moving parts which create more potential points of failure. Dust or sand getting into the sliding mechanism can be problematic, and using a flexible display as a backplate – considering how fragile flexible screens still are – could be a disaster for careless users. In any case, such a device would be far more dangerous than traditional slates.

We’ve seen similar concepts from Huawei that use a flexible screen with a sliding mechanism in a design that promises users a larger display in a relatively compact body. The specific design philosophy that Xiaomi pursues was also introduced by Samsung in what appears to be a smaller, more compact device.

As we keep mentioning in these patent applications, companies will not do everything in their power to make these devices a reality. Often times, companies simply patent ideas to ensure that competitors cannot manufacture a device with those designs. However, we’ve also seen a lot of crazy concepts from Xiaomi this year, including phones with bunny ears and detachable screens.

If Xiaomi creates a device based on this patent application, it is more of a proof-of-concept than a device designed to take on the newer form factors of the smartphone world.

Next: The best foldable phones money can buy

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