Xiaomi’s share of China’s smartphone market is heading in the wrong direction, but a phone as fine as the Mi MIX may change that—and inspire competitors. The stunning handset, designed by Philippe Starck, shuns bezels with an edge-to-edge display that covers more than 91 percent of the front surface area.
There’s so much screen that the selfie camera is at the bottom, because there’s simply no room at the top. The display measures 6.4 inches on the diagonal, but the bezel-free design should make it feel like a smaller phone. The ceramic body is fused to the glass without glue, which should feel different too.
Xiaomi didn’t skimp on the specs. The Mi MIX sports a quad-core 2.35 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 system chip—the same guts as Google’s Pixel phones—with configurations ramping up to as much as 6GB RAM and 256 gigs of storage. It promises insane battery life, thanks to a 4,400 mAh battery. The back side features a 16-megapixel camera and a fingerprint sensor.
A phone with this much screen up front needs clever design workarounds. The Mi MIX features a piezoelectric actuator behind the screen instead of a conventional earpiece speaker, which simply wouldn’t fit. If that doesn’t sound too reliable, at least there’s Bluetooth and a headphone jack.
The one complaint? Screen resolution. At 1080×2040, pixel density is around 362ppi—much lower than other flagship phones. Xiaomi went with an LCD display, which is surprising given the screen’s rounded edge-to-edge corners. It could also give the phone less battery life compared to the same setup with an OLED display.
If you want one, fire up WeChat and holler at your buddies in China, because this phone isn’t slated for US release. Still, the design will surely inspire the look of handsets that do come to the States, especially since the Mi MIX costs less than a Pixel or an iPhone 7. A top-of-the-line model is $590—a price almost as attractive as the phone.