Xiaomi appears to be considering a new phone design that's remarkably iPhone-like, aside from its lack of a selfie-camera and two mysterious pop-up segments. That's based on a patent spotted by Dutch publication LetsGoDigital.
The overall design of the device could best be described as a 'brick' in that it's reminiscent of Apple's earlier phones. It's a square design with a flattened front, back, and edges. The only real curve can be seen at the corners of each respective edge.
Of course, in true Xiaomi fashion, the volume rocker and power button — as well as other pictured buttons — are more oval than square too. As is the camera at the back, placed at the top left-hand corner. The display is different as well, occupying all but a razor-thin bezel that's evenly distributed around the panel.
That, in and of itself, is noteworthy. But the big mystery here is not in the shape of the device. Instead, it's in the fact that Xiaomi didn't include a front-facing camera in its patent.
The pop-up segments here probably aren't cameras in this Xiaomi patent
There are two pop-up mechanisms described in the patent to a certain extent. Looking down on the top-facing edge, those are circular and they resemble a short cylinder when extended out. They reside on opposite ends of that edge. One possibility is that those are selfie cameras. Or, given their shape, 360-degree snappers or cameras capable of shooting in 3D.
But it doesn't seem likely that those are housing selfie cameras at all, given Xiaomi's — and other OEMs' — recent shift toward under-display snappers. Especially since those are now ready for mass production from at least one company. While this is only a patent and not a final product design, it simply seems more likely that Xiaomi will go that route.
That leaves the pop-up mechanism on this Xiaomi phone wide open for interpretation.
One other possibility is that Xiaomi plans to utilize the space for speakers. Among its recent devices, particularly the Mi 10 Pro, the company has increasingly put its focus on audio. The results are some of the best-sounding devices on the market, at least with regard to the above-mentioned device.
The company has included two extra buttons opposite the volume rocker and power button in the design. And it isn't immediately clear what those do. It's not out of the question that those could directly relate to the pop-up mechanism. If that's the case, Xiaomi may be planning a more fulfilling and deeper audio experience controlled by those extra keys.
With that said, it's still a mystery. The pop-ups seem to sit flush with the device when they're closed. So they presumably wouldn't serve very well as audio components when tucked away.
There's no guarantee Xiaomi will ever release this device
Now, Xiaomi is a leading OEM in the Android market. So it should come as no surprise that the company is also responsible for a lot of patents. Or that some of its patents go well beyond what would be considered 'run-of-the-mill' designs.
But, as is always the case with patents, there's no guarantee any such phone will ever see the light of day.