Chinese tat bazaar Xiaomi has emitted another teaser video for its foldable phone, confirming that vendors are taking different design approaches to the challenge.
Samsung's Galaxy Fold is an "innie" design – with the main display closing like a book cover. Huawei's Mate X is an "outie" - the main display folds back and becomes the surface of the device when closed. And Xiaomi's is a trifold design – bending in two places.
We can regard this as official – the video was shared by the company on its Weibo channel.
The advantage of this design is that it obviates the need for a secondary "external" display, as with the Galaxy Fold. Samsung added a 4.6-inch "cover display" to complement the 7.3-inch main panel. Huawei simply made its 8-inch panel serve as a cover display when closed.
But the disadvantage is that this doubles the likelihood of the fold introducing display failures, as there are now two.
And it obviously replicates the design flaw of the Huawei, as the screen wraps around the outside when you close it, making it vulnerable to dings and dents and scratches.
One tester told XDA Developer's editor-in-chief Mishaal Rahman that the Galaxy Fold's crease is "noticeable but not too bad. You can feel it under the finger, but it's hard to notice it with the screen on and more than 70 per cent brightness."
EU Samsung Galaxy Fold definitely has the Snapdragon 855, says someone who got one early. They can't show pictures/videos, but are taking questions. Got any?— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) March 26, 2019
More significant is the price signal this will send out. At Mobile World Congress last month, analyst Jean Baptiste Su of Atherton Research told us he didn't think they were exorbitantly expensive, if you compared them to boutique devices like Vertu.
However, Xiaomi has made a promise not to charge more than a 5 per cent profit margin on hardware. Assuming it applies this rule to the foldable, it may be able to bring one to market for much less than Samsung (£1,799 in the UK) or Huawei (€2,299, UK price not yet disclosed). Possibly for around $1,000. At that point we'll start to be able to gauge demand for it.
Experts are sceptical about how long Xiaomi can maintain its profit-margin vow. What makes sense for the formaldehyde-free mattresses it sells doesn't necessarily make sense for luxury consumer electronics. ®