back to article Xiaomi's Mi-too attempt at a pholdable: Not one, but TWO creases of fail

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 …

  1. tony2heads
    Coat

    folding away

    next step will be a hexaflexagon phone.

    Coat: it's the reversible one.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: folding away

      You aren't kidding, that thing looks like a lot of work. Wait while I pull this... .. .... .... out.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: folding away

      It could have the shape that I'd like some to have to accommodate where I'd like to put it, based on some people behave on the phone. Nokia once almost got there if it wasn't for width.

      That aside, all of this strikes me very much as gimmicks in search of a problem to solve, and by that I don't mean "how are we going to convince people to part with their money again". What is the point?

      I can see the sense of a display on the outside, but that's a need that is also addressed by smart watches (I personally like the Samsung approach more than Apple's), and it is not a new idea either. Ye olde (well, by now) Motorola RAZR v3i had that already..

      1. vir

        Re: folding away

        We're going to get to the point where people only use the external screen because the foldable one drains the battery too quickly and they've also reduced the battery size to be able to fit 3x the screen real estate and the hardware behind it.

        Has anyone put a grain of sand on one of these "innie" screens and closed the phone yet?

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: folding away

        "That aside, all of this strikes me very much as gimmicks in search of a problem to solve, and by that I don't mean "how are we going to convince people to part with their money again". What is the point?"

        The point is a decently large screen which still manages to fit in a pocket. It may also be the early, baby steps, towards fully foldable devices. eg a roll up screen so you get a phone that's little more than a tube in shape until you pull out the screen. Or maybe a pair of tubes you pull apart to open like ye olde fashioned scroll.

        1. Tom Chiverton 1 Silver badge

          Re: folding away

          Earth: Final Conflict - we loved you....

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: folding away

            Thanks. I couldn't remember where I saw that design :-)

            Earth: Final Conflict, or, as my wife used to say, "Is Baldymen on tonight?"

    3. big_D Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: folding away

      I'm waiting for the Japanese model, with full Origami mode, you can fold it up into a swan, or a unicorn, when not in use.

      Mine's the Gaff look-alike raincoat.

  2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Profit margin

    >What makes sense for the formaldehyde-free mattresses it sells doesn't necessarily make sense for luxury consumer electronic

    Rather the opposite, you have to make higher margins on large bulky goods you sell once.

    Expensive electronics where you can then sell apps, content and advertising to your customers for ever - you can make as much loss as you like on the HW

    Xiaomi have 10% of the chinese app store market and are trying (with some success) to be the middle class trusted brand for everything

    1. Nattrash
      Thumb Up

      Re: Profit margin

      What makes sense for the formaldehyde-free mattresses it sells doesn't necessarily make sense for luxury consumer electronic

      Rather the opposite...

      I agree. I have one of their Air 12.5 here, and the thing came with both a reasonable performance, aesthetics, weight (~1.1 kg) AND excellent price tag (~ € 450). Slapped *nix on it and it hasn't missed a beat. Curious, opened it up (suspecting dodgy components) and found all the usual suspects there. Samsung, LG, Intel, Hynix... So yes, maybe they do have a biz policy that might surprise more fruity oriented device makers. But then again it might also be entertaining to know where that fruity difference the consumer pays goes to (Since it aren't the parts. Must be the blingy logo then?).

      <<Hmmmm... Formaldehyde-free mattress...>>

    2. Nattrash
      Happy

      Re: Profit margin

      Oh, and I forgot to say...

      So formaldehyde-free mattresses aren't your thing... Well, you've seen nothing yet guv...

      How about a pair of Xiaomi bacteriostatic socks?

      Try to get those with a fruity logo! (which some of you with nothing better to do will find on Google no doubt)

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    someone explain where the camera goes?!

    Hi,

    I love this concept and it's getting closer and closer to a device I'd buy. I just don't see where the camera goes on these devices however.....

    In addition, we wanted thicker phones and more battery. Are we going to get more than we ask for with these devices?

    (an aside: for going backpacking/traveling, this would be AWESOME.)

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: someone explain where the camera goes?!

      > we wanted thicker phones...

      And Energiser heard you and has designed a 22mm thick phone with an 18,000 mAh battery.

      https://www.trustedreviews.com/news/energizer-phone-battery-price-release-date-3665107

      Personally I'll stick with a normal phone and an external 10,000 mAH battery pack for when I'm away from a 9v Samsung quick charger.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Scren size

    Looking at that, it still only doubles the screen size as the side parts only go half way across the back each. Can't we have one going over the other to give 3 times the size. I know the hinge would be more complex, but surely it's worth it.

    1. 0laf Silver badge

      Re: Screen size

      Z fold maybe?

      1. Baldrickk

        Re: Screen size

        I'd be up for a Z-fold, but it would be thick, and I'd probably just use it for watching stuff. But I can stream to my smart TV, so...

  5. Slacker20012

    Am I the only one...

    Who doesn't get the point in these foldable phones? What function does it server exactly? Or is it just a 'we do it because we can' kind of thing?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Am I the only one...

      It allows you to put a tablet in your pocket. It's like going from a scroll to a kodex "what's the point, my scroll works perfectly well".

      Yes, at the moment cost + reliability mean it's a silly idea. But if cost reduces, and reliability increases, it means a phone/tablet as easy and useful as a folding bit of paper/notebook.

      We are at that awkward pre-alpha version 0. Come version 7 or 9 and we will be asking "how did I cope reading on that tiny 3 inch screen".

      1. Slacker20012

        Re: Am I the only one...

        Fair point. Although I don't use a tablet lol

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Am I the only one...

          Yes yes, "lol" you say, lol it up, lol, of course you are laughing out loud, OF COURSE YOU ARE

          1. Slacker20012

            Re: Am I the only one...

            Wow what got your goat

    2. JohnFen

      Re: Am I the only one...

      You're not the only one. I don't get it, either. I assume that's because I'm not the target market.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Am I the only one...

      There's no point to THESE folding phones, but once we have one that unfolds into a landscape form factor (i.e. a true trifold, not a double fold consisting of two halves, or maybe some sort of fanfold/roll type thing) that isn't too bulky in your pocket, has a scratchproof display, and isn't at a premium of more than 50% over the "standard" phone THEN they'll have something.

      We're looking a minimum of several years down the road before technology makes it possible (or longer, since some fairly major battery size/power improvements need to happen) Until then people are just going to be paying big bucks to be alpha testers for an obviously deficient product.

      1. vtcodger Silver badge

        Re: Am I the only one...

        A don't know why, but the image that popped into my mind is of some poor soul trying to unfold and read a paper roadmap outdoors ... on a windy day.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Am I the only one...

        There's no point to THESE folding phones

        You seem pretty sure of yourself. We now have at least three different phones demonstrating folds in both directions so any kind of geometric format is now possible. My guess is that it will take time for the market to decide which arrangements it prefers: outside has lots of appeal but some obvious downside, inside looks physically more robust but some people won't like the idea of secondary screen. Current prices would indicate that it may take a while for mass uptake, if indeed this ever happens. On the other hand, this is the kind of design change that could become popular very quickly, as opposed to a gimmick like the notch. For example, if a company decides that field reps are to be issued with them. Price will only remain a problem if there is a real constraint in the components such as the screen itself, but multiple vendors with differing designs suggests this is not the case and we could indeed be looking at typical price developments (> 40% discount after 12 months).

        Of course, another issue is getting the software right.

      3. JohnFen

        Re: Am I the only one...

        For certain demographics, I'm sure that you're right.

        I can't imagine why I'd personally want such a thing, though, even if it's perfected. A standard screen is more than good enough for my needs, and if the tech is good enough to accommodate a tri-fold screen, that would mean that a standard screen could be made much thinner, making more room for features that I would like a whole lot more than a foldable screen.

        1. Clunking Fist

          Re: Am I the only one...

          One word: multiple windows. Okay, so that's two words, but you get the picture. Or pictures.

          1. JohnFen

            Re: Am I the only one...

            That's not a compelling feature to me in such a device.

  6. JohnFen

    Which Vertu?

    "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."

    Which Vertu? Some models go for around $600US, and some for nearly $10,000US, with a whole range in between. I doubt he's talking about the low-end Vertu here, but if not, then what he says here is nonsensical as the entire rest of the Vertu line is exorbitantly expensive.

    My bias: any phone that costs more than around $800US is "exorbitantly expensive".

  7. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

    Samsung are making 80% margin on their phone hardware? B*stards.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Possibly for around $1,000. At that point we'll start

    laughing?

  9. 0laf Silver badge
    Boffin

    Maybe folding screens on a phone is actually the wrong place for them. What about a laptop with a 10" footprint that folds out to be a 30" widscreen. Less issues around the bulk of such screen becasue it's in a backpack anyway. It could all fold inward to protect the soft screen and you can have a much bigger battery.

  10. Chris G Silver badge

    It has it's uses

    I know a lot of people like designers, builders, landscapers and anyone who needs to make some kind of presentation with photos or diagrams who would find this tech very usable if it was reliable and functioned well, a lot of others would buy them to look at cat pictures too.

    When I was working I always found I would need a tablet in addition to a phone when meeting new clients as the phone screen would be too small and a laptop too cumbersome to show a presentation.

  11. Tech_Nerd

    Excited

    Looking forward to see these foldable phones in market..

  12. digitalwolf

    Good but not Perfect

    Everyone trying to make foldable phones.. Good to see a two creases in single display :p

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