- Xiaomi unveiled a smartphone concept featuring a quad waterfall display, with the screen bending around all four corners.
- The phone has no buttons or ports, as the screen occupies all four edges.
- Xiaomi said the phone is real, without revealing any launch plans for the unnamed device.
Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi unveiled a few days ago the smartphone wireless charging technology we’re dying to see become real. Called Mi Air Charge, the tech allows long-distance tracking and wireless charging of compatible devices, including smartphones and other gadgets. We learned at the time that none of the current Xiaomi phones will support remote charging, and Xiaomi wouldn’t say which future handsets will be Mi Air Charge-ready. It turns out the first Xiaomi phone to support the sci-fi tech might be equally fascinating. It’s a device featuring a quad-curved waterfall display, a design where the screen “overflows” around the edges. Xiaomi isn’t the first handset vendor to pioneer such a phone design, but the company is taking the whole thing to a new level. Because the screen curves around all four edges, there are no ports whatsoever.
There’s nothing unusual about a phone with no 3.5mm headphone jack these days, but phones usually ship with USB-C or Lightning connectors for charging and headphones. Xiaomi’s concept lacks ports, implying that the phone will only take wireless charging. This is precisely the kind of phone you’d want to recharge wirelessly from anywhere in the room and could very well support Mi Air Charge. That’s just speculation, as Xiaomi is yet to confirm such features.
The company does say in its promo video that the waterfall display leaves no room for ports or physical buttons and will deliver “a true, port-free unibody design.” The obvious problem with phones featuring curved display is durability. The Galaxy S21 drop tests we saw a few days ago proved that the Ultra’s curved edges are still fragile, and the glass cracks even if it’s the most durable smartphone glass made to date. A phone with four curved edges would need even better glass tech or screen protectors to guard those edges without ruining the display effect.
The screen corners are still there, similar to what Huawei did with its phones with quad waterfall displays.
Xiaomi told The Verge that the phone does exist and that they’ve used it. The display is a result of “countless breakthroughs in glass bending and laminating technology” and “represents the sum of 46 groundbreaking patents.” It’s unclear what that means, given that all we get to see is a render. Xiaomi did show before phones with screens that wrapped around the phone.
There’s one other question the video doesn’t strictly address. What happened to the front-facing camera? Is the selfie cam placed under the screen? That’s also a smartphone innovation Xiaomi has been working on.
With all that in mind, there’s no question that Xiaomi’s concepts are exciting, and all these technologies will someday work together. It’s unclear when we’ll see them in commercial products, however. And there’s no telling how the new US ban on Xiaomi will impact its ability to do business in the coming years.