In some respects, smartphone design has stagnated, save for a few attempts to dish up new form factors and innovative features, such as folding displays. Xiaomi did not go that route, though it did just unveil the Mi Mix Alpha, a beautifully rendered concept handset described as a "bold imagination for the future of phones in the 5G era."
Obviously 5G connectivity is a big part of this concept phone. At the same, 5G is almost uninteresting next to the standout feature of the Mi Mix Alpha, which is an innovative Surround Sound screen. The wraparound display is not an entirely new concept, of course, but in this case Xiaomi says the screen-to-body ratio is a staggering 180.6 percent.
It is essentially a phone with a display on almost all sides of the handset. How it actually looks in person is not something we can say, but based on the renders Xiaomi is showing off, the Mi Mix Alpha is stunning.
"Xiaomi’s Mi MIX exploration began in 2016 when the company introduced the revolutionary Full Screen Display smartphone concept—an industry first. It was also Mi MIX that pioneered a smartphone screen ratio exceeding the standard 16:9 aspect ratio. Today, full screen displays have become the standard configuration of smartphones," Xiaomi explains.
The Mi Mix Alpha concept represents Xiaomi's attempt to "reimagine the modern day smartphone." That extends beyond the Surround Screen and includes things as such as "cantilever piezoelectric ceramics acoustic technology, ultrasonic proximity sensor, and revolutionary build materials."
This concept handset also sports a 108-megapixel sensor, which qualifies as the highest resolution (12032x9024) and largest sensor (1/1.33-inch) to date on a smartphone, The rest of the camera configuration is impressive too, despite not being groundbreaking.
"In addition to the 108MP camera, Mi MIX Alpha also has a 20MP ultra wide-angle camera which supports 1.5 cm super macro photography, and a 12MP telephoto camera that supports 2x optical zoom and Dual PD focus," Xiaomi says.
The top and bottom parts of the frame are built with an aerospace-grade titanium alloy that is three times stronger than stainless steel and weighs less, according to Xiaomi. There is a protective cover on the rear cameras made from a single piece of sapphire glass, embedded in ceramic.
Underneath it all is a flagship assortment of parts, including a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ processor, 12GB of RAM, 512GB of built-in storage, and a 4,050 mAh battery.
Not bad for a concept phone, and yes, Xiaomi actually plans on taking things to the next step—the Mi Mix Alpha is will enter into small scale production at the end of December. It will sell for 19,999 Yuan (around $2,812 in US currency).