Last week, a patent filed by Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi was spotted in the database of the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) with a new design which shows a futuristic smartphone with a display that's curved on all four sides. The patent, first seen by Dutch website LetsGoDigital, comes with various illustrations that show all four sides of the concept device.
The Samsung Galaxy S series smartphones are a class of their own because of their curved edges, but it seems Xiaomi wants to take that design philosophy a step further as the phone shown in the patent doesn't just have curved edges on the right and left-hand side of the display, but also on the top and bottom. The HONOR Magic actually offered a similar design, as all of its sides were curved in such a matter, but it had rather thick bezels above and below the display, so the top and bottom sides of the display were not exactly curved, only the glass was.
This patent design also shows that the phone doesn't have any physical keys and the same goes for notches and display holes. This could either mean that the company would be embedding the front camera beneath the display or go for a slider camera as it did with the Xiaomi Mi MIX 3. Moreover, there is no conventional fingerprint reader in sight, which hints at the possibility of the screen doubling up as a fingerprint reader as well. Since the phone seems bereft of any physical keys, chances are that it will feature pressure-sensitive, virtual keys to enable users to wake up the device.
Moving on, the illustrations also show that the phone in question has a horizontally aligned dual camera system on the back with an LED flash adjacent to it. Apart from that, the WIPO listing also shows that there would be a USB connector on the bottom of the phone. The images accompanying the patent also do not show a SIM card slot or a speaker which means that Xiaomi is probably striving to go for a unibody design. Forgoing the SIM card slot means that the phone might come with the eSIM technology and the supposed absence of the speaker shows that the display of the phone might emit sound too.
It seems that Xiaomi has taken inspiration from the HONOR Magic, Vivo APEX 2019 and the Meizu Zero but while these devices have made it out in the open it remains to be seen if Xiaomi will actually go ahead and commercialize the device shown in the patent. However, if Xiaomi ends up pursuing this design, it isn't clear if this would be a flagship device with high-end specifications.
While the device envisioned by Xiaomi surely looks gorgeous, in a few years time, we can expect most OEMs to go down the same road and come out with devices that look more like a pane of glass with all the required sensors hidden inside the display. The smartphone industry has slowed down in recent years because of various reasons including longer replacement cycles and lack of innovation, though that seems to be changing, slowly, at least as far as innovation is concerned.