First look: Xiaomi Mi Mix 'concept phone'

The Xiaomi Mi Mix, which will launch on Nov 4.
The Xiaomi Mi Mix, which will launch on Nov 4.ST PHOTO: LISABEL TING

BEIJING - The Xiaomi Note 2 might fall short on originality and verve, but the ground-breaking and edgeless Mi Mix has it in spades.

At the launch event, Xiaomi introduced the Mix as a "concept phone", and then proceeded to stun everyone by announcing a launch date and price (Nov 4, starting from 3,499 RMB or S$718).

According to Xiaomi, the smartphone of the future is borderless, without a boundary between the screen and the world.

What this translates to in practice is a 91.3 per cent screen-to-body ratio on the Mix. In order to achieve this, Xiaomi has lopped the forehead of the phone, where the proximity sensor, front camera and earpiece speaker usually reside, and reconstructed the functions using a bit of technical wizardry.

 
 

The camera has been relocated to the bottom right of the phone, and the sensor and earpiece have been replaced by an ultrasonic, behind-the-glass proximity sensor and what Xiaomi calls "piezoelectric ceramic acoustic technology".

In layman terms, this means that the user will hear soundwaves conducted through the body of the phone, instead of through air.

But these are just the technical details. What is truly epic about the 6.4-inch Mix is how it makes you feel.

At the risk of sounding overly effusive, what Xiaomi has done with the Mix is to carve out a slice of the future and put it into your hands.

Using the phone and watching the notifications drawer extending from the very edge of the device, you feel as if you are standing on the cusp of the next few years in smartphone technology.

This is certainly helped by the Mix's coolly gleaming, all-ceramic body, fashioned by design legend Philippe Starck. At the back of the phone, ever-so-slightly recessed, lie the rear camera and fingerprint sensor. Below that in gold lettering: "Mix designed by Mi".

It is also powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, as well as a hefty 4,400mAh battery and up to 6GB of RAM.

What seals the deal is the Mix's custom 17:9 display with rounded edges that extend right to the edge of the phone on three sides.

Granted, there are some slightly odd things about the Mix, like how you would need to rotate the phone in order to take a flattering selfie. Take a selfie  without turning the phone upside down, and you will get a photo with oversized chin and a pear-shaped face.

The glossy black back of the Mix is also a massive fingerprint magnet, which ruins the beautiful ceramic finish.

But these small quirks do not detract from the Mix's proposition - a bezel-less phone packed with groundbreaking technology.