Folding phones are a little like Pringles. Nobody’s thinking about them, then someone shows up with a tube and suddenly everyone wants one. That’s why everyone seems to be trying to catch up with Samsung. Motorola is thought to have something in the works with an updated RAZR, LG and Huawei are working on versions of their own and even Apple might have a folding device up its crisp, white, rounded-corners sleeves. So it’s no surprise that Xiaomi also has one on the boil. And here it is:
Catchy background tune aside, what you’re looking at is Xiaomi head Lin Bin playing with an early version of a possible folding device — one that combines features of both phones and tablets. The device folds out for a larger screen, where it looks and functions like your average tablet. If you want to go smaller, the two sides fold backwards around the phone for a proper mobile phone form factor. Not counting the extra thickness, that is.
Bin said in a post to Chinese social media service Weibo that this device is still an “engineering machine”, meaning that it’s not ready for the production line yet. He also said that Xiaomi, in developing this sample, surmounted “…a series of technical problems such as flexible folding screen technology, four-wheel drive folding shaft technology, flexible cover technology, and MIUI adaptation” to create what you see in action here.
There’s nothing more specific on Xiaomi’s folding phone available but Mobile World Congress — that gathering of all things cellular and mobile — kicks off shortly. It’s likely we’ll learn a little more in Barcelona this February.