At an event in Beijing today, Xiaomi announced what it called a "concept phone" but that pretty much appears to be real and alive given the price tag, release date, and working prototypes that everyone got to play with. The selling point? No bezels. Well, there are some bezels, technically, but they barely count as such.
The Mi Mix, which is the name of this magical device, has a huge 6.4" screen in a body that seems to be almost the same size as an iPhone 7 Plus. Xiaomi achieved this by using every inch of the front of the device to the maximum, including rounding out the display at the corners to remove the tiniest of borders.
In case you're wondering where are the sensors that usually grace the top of every smartphone's display, you'll be even more surprised by the answer. Xiaomi replaced the optical proximity sensor by an ultrasonic one, and the earpiece by a cantilever piezoelectric ceramic actuator. That jargon means that it uses the metallic frame to generate sound.
The camera has been reduced in size and moved to the bottom right corner of the Mi Mix. If you need to take a selfie, you can rotate the device for a better angle. Oh and the Mix obviously has soft keys that auto-hide to make the most out of the screen estate on the front.
Finally, Xiaomi opted for a 17:9 screen ratio to push the display to most of the phone's borders and not leave any space unused.
Moving on from the front, the full body is made of glossy black ceramic. That includes the rear panel, the side frame, and all the buttons. It seems like a fingerprint magnet, but it should be more resistant than glass. The display slips into this frame with tenon joints that don't require any glue or other adhesive, an interesting idea.
At the event, Xiaomi was proud to point out that French designer Philippe Starck is behind this refined look.
Under the hood, there are a Snapdragon 821 processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of UFS 2.0 storage, a 192Hz / 24-bit DAC chip for high-resolution audio, an NFC chip making it Mi Pay-ready, and a 4,400 mAh battery with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0. The rear camera is a 16MP Phase Detection Autofocus lens, and there's a fingerprint reader beneath it.
The Mi Mix will be available in China on November 4 and retail an acceptable 3499 yuan (approx. $516). It will come with a leather case in the box. A premium version with 6GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, and 18k gold embossing around the camera and fingerprint sensor will cost 3,999 yuan (approx. $590).
This Mi Mix is very interesting. It might be the first time we see both the ultrasonic proximity sensor and the piezoelectric acoustic technology in the same device, and the fact that they come in such a beautiful package make them even more intriguing. I hate large bezels just as much as the next guy/gal, but I'm not sure I'd like an almost bezel-less phone. Where would I rest my fingers? How would I hold it? How durable is the frame with such a large display when surviving a fall? And would I spend my time wiping the screen from fingerprints now that I have to put my grubby mitts on it to even hold the phone? Gah. Too many questions that I can't answer because this is only being released in China.
- +Nilanjan Chatterjee