Xiaomi is back with one of its trademark insane smartphone designs. Meet the Xiaomi Mi Mix Alpha, a phone with a screen that curves around the sides and then just keeps going, wrapping all the way around the back of the device.
As Xiaomi's blog post says, "the front, side, and back of the phone are almost entirely display." Xiaomi is calling this a "concept" phone, and while the company is being coy about details right now, it says it will sell the Mi Mix Alpha in December in China. The Mi Mix Alpha might not be a foldable smartphone, but it does come with a foldable smartphone price tag: $2,810 (RMB 19,999).
OK, so... why? Why does the screen go all the way around the phone? Well, first, Xiaomi is placing functionality on the sides of the phone, since those are all pixels now. The status bar looks like it lives on the side of the phone and lists the usual readouts like the battery, cellular connectivity, Bluetooth, and other icons. Using the sides for the screen necessitates relocating the power and volume buttons, and while there is still a physical power button on the top, virtual side buttons will be taking over for volume duties. A button on the left side (labeled "6" in the renders) seems like it will be used as the volume button. And instead of gesture navigation, it looks like the Android navigation buttons for "Back" and "Home" live on the right side of the wraparound display. Controlling this phone sounds like it will take some getting used to. The main design change enabled by the back screen is that a selfie camera is not necessary. When there is also a screen on the back, you can just flip the phone over, use the main camera to take a selfie, and use the back screen as a viewfinder.