Unlike the Samsung prototype, which folds in half, the Xiaomi smartphone uses a tri-fold design (like you might see with a paper pamphlet). In its “normal” form, the smartphone looks like a standard rectangular tablet with small bezels. But then Lin turns the device into landscape mode and folds the two outer “wings” of the display under the larger middle portion.
In this configuration, the device takes on the appearance of a more traditional smartphone in portrait mode. The transition from tablet to phone mode is mostly seamless, and quite polished for a prototype device. When folded, the wings turn off and no longer display content, which should help with power consumption.
Excited to share this video of a special Xiaomi smartphone from our President and Co-founder Bin Lin. It is the world’s first ever double folding phone — that’s pretty cool, isn’t it? #xiaomi #foldingphone #technology pic.twitter.com/iBj0n3vIbW— Wang Xiang (@XiangW_) January 23, 2019
In a [translated] post on Weibo, Lin says that Xiaomi engineers were able to conquer a “series of technical problems” to get to this point and that the smartphone uses a “four-wheel drive folding shaft”, flexible cover technology and a modified version of the company’s MIUI skin for Android.
Lin also asked suggestions to name the device, with current internal favorite being Xiaomi Dual Flex and Xiaomi MIX Flex.
It will be interesting to see how today’s top Android OEMs approach folding smartphone design. There’s the aforementioned Samsung Galaxy F, while both Huawei and LG are also said to be working on their own competitors. And most recently, we’ve seen that Motorola is looking to bring back the RAZR name with a portrait-style folding smartphone.