Apple unveiled the iPhone 7 on 7 September, it made headline news all over the world.
There was a better camera. There was a better screen. There wasn’t a hole for your headphones. You were almost certainly going to order one, because it was (and is) a bloody lovely phone.
On 25 October, China’s emerging smartphone superpower Xiaomi unveiled the Mi Mix, and – thanks largely to it only arriving in China – it hardly made a splash outside of the gadget-loving quarter of the internet.
But if you want to know what the iPhone 8 and many other smartphones of 2017 are going to look like, the Mi Mix is a big, edge-to-edge spoiler. Everything about the Mi Mix sounds like a sci-fi concept: an ultrasound proximity sensor, ceramic side buttons, a massive battery, 16 megapixel rear camera – but it’s the 6.4-inch HD display that’ll have smartphone makers around the globe scrolling in envy.
The front of the phone is 91.3 per cent screen – a feat made all the more impressive by a total lack of visible earpiece speaker. Calls are heard thanks to something called ‘cantilever piezoelectric ceramic acoustic technology’: inside the screen is a small lever that knocks against the screen, turning the whole thing into an earpiece.
There’s hardly any edge to the screen at all, a ‘bezel-less’ design many analysts believe is set to become the norm of the next generation of smartphones. Described as a ‘concept’ phone, the Mi Mix goes on sale in China on 4 November for ¥3,499 – that’s just £421.
There’s no word on how many of them are going to be made, but don’t expect any to arrive in Europe any time soon. Sure, it’s not a practical smartphone: it’s massive. It won’t fit into most pockets, but the importance of selling limited numbers of the Mi Mix is that Xiaomi is positioning itself at the head of the next wave of smartphone designs – everyone else is going to be playing catch up.
An iPhone 8 concept demonstrating a bezel-less design Technology analysts (read that as ‘people who know a lot about in-the-works gadgets) have been suggesting that Apple is working on an all glass, bezel-less iPhone 8 for many months. With an underwhelming iPhone 7 – a good phone, but one that didn’t see the tech giant take any giant strides forward in design – Apple recently recorded its first fall in profits for 15 years.
Xiaomi isn’t about to become the new Apple in the Western world. The Mi Mix, or its more widely available successor, isn’t going to outsell the iPhone 8. But if you want to know what your next ‘must have’ phone will look like, you’re looking at it.