It looks like 2019 is going to be the year of the folding smartphone. Samsung has one on the way. Motorola too. Royole already released one. And they all seem to use flexible display technology in different ways, with some folding inward and others folding outward.

And then there’s Xiaomi. It looks like the company’s foldable concept design is first I’ve seen with a tri-fold design.

Unfolded it looks like a small tablet. But bend the right and left sides back like you would if you were closing a wallet and you’re left with a smaller, phone-sized display.

We got an early look at the design when Evan Blass shared a video on Twitter earlier this month. But at the time we couldn’t speak to its authenticity.

Now  Xiaomi president Lin Bin has posted his own video to Chinese social media service Weibo that shows the phone in action.

The video shows the device offering a nearly seamless transition from full-screen to folded modes. When folded up, the phone is easy to navigate with one hand. When using the full display, you get access to a larger screen for watching videos or engaging with other content.

It’s an interesting concept, but I do still have some questions. Does the phone have a camera or cameras? I don’t see any. In the demo video it looks like there are visible creases at the bend points when the device is used in tablet mode. There seems to be a power button, but I don’t see any volume buttons, does the phone have them, or is the goal to go button-free?

Right now Xiaomi is referring to the tri-fold device as a engineering prototype and the company hasn’t committed to bringing it to market yet, so we might have to wait a little while to get answers to those questions.

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2 replies on “Xiaomi previews a phone that folds up like a tri-fold wallet”

  1. > there are visible creases at the bend points

    You can see him using his whole hand in the back just trying to keep if flat for the first part of the video. Kind of sad really

  2. > there are visible creases at the bend points

    This would kill it for me. The other thing would be pricing… That aside, both the aspect ratio and size – when in full, unfolded mode – look exceptionally good to me. I’d be curious too about how well it looks in direct or partial sunlight. The colors and brightness appear muted, cloudy. In fact, it’s something I keep seeing in images of other foldables.

    My current (3 yr old) phone does a great job in direct sunlight. In any darker setting, I need to greatly diminish the brightness (which also serves to extend battery). This wasn’t even a feature I considered when purchasing the phone originally (I just didn’t think about it) until I saw how many people struggled with their phones in similar settings.

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