Global smartphone shipments have been slowing since last year as many of the latest models have failed to convince consumers to upgrade.
This year, however, the market may see some signs of recovery as smartphone makers introduce more attractive features and innovations.
Some brands, for example, are set to launch models with foldable screens. This could be a game changer if the new phones are reasonably priced, among other considerations.
Xiaomi Corp.’s (01810.HK) co-founder and president Lin Bin on Wednesday posted a video on his Weibo account revealing the company’s three-panel foldable phone. He says it’s the world’s first double-folding smartphone.
In the video, Lin demonstrates how the handset works. It is tablet-sized with a curved screen when fully unfolded.
When held horizontally, the two sides can be folded back, making it a regular-sized phone with screens on both the back and the front.
In unveiling Xiaomi’s first foldable phone, Lin said the designers have to overcome a series of technical problems related to the folding screen, four-wheel folding shaft, flexible cover and MIUI operating system.
The symmetrical dual foldable screens provide the user with the combined experience of a tablet and a mobile phone. It is not clear, however, if the phone has additional features resulting from the foldable screen.
Lin notes that the model is just a working prototype, and mass production will depend on the response of the market.
He asked people for suggestions on the name of the phone. Lin volunteered two: Xiaomi Dual Flex and Xiaomi MIX Flex.
During the demonstration, nothing is said about the camera, which is not visible on either side of the phone — whether it is folded or expanded into a bigger screen. And without a camera, how much value could such a phone have?
In providing a sneak peek into the model, Xiaomi is apparently determined to launch the phone as soon as possible in order to take advantage of being one of the first to offer such a feature in the market.
This is good news for consumers. Xiaomi is known for its ability to trim down production costs, even in the case of a model with complicated features.