back to article No ports, no borders, no hope: Xiaomi's cool but impractical all-screen concept phone

What happens when you prioritise form over function? You get Xiaomi's latest futuristic concept phone, a port-less and borderless slab of glass and metal designed to give the appearance of a free-floating display. The display itself drools over the sides at an 88° angle, which Xiaomi calls a "hyper quad-curved screen." The …

  1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    How many?

    and up to more than ten complex polishing procedures.

    So how many is that exactly? 0 is a solution to the equation, so is 967,322,014

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: How many?

      you can polish a turd 10 ways but it is still a turd.

    2. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: How many?

      I got completely nerd sniped by that sentence as well

  2. AMBxx Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Reset hole?

    As someone who still missed being able to reset a device with a pointy stick, how do you reset something with no physical buttons when the OS crashes?

    1. RockBurner

      Re: Reset hole?

      You purchase a new one, der.

    2. deive

      Re: Reset hole?

      I don't see how capacitive buttons are any different from soft buttons, they both require a circuit to detect them?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Reset hole?

        A lot more software is involved when the screen is the button, some of it being managed by the OS, so not always responsive.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Reset hole?

          Capacitive buttons on the outside of the phone don't require an OS. More complex control circuitry than microswitches, for sure, but nothing that can't be made reliable enough for purpose (just as microswitches can be prone to failure if care isn't taken in their design.)

          I've had a few phones or MP3 players suffer from dead microswitches over the years.

          Ergonomically speaking, I'd take microswitches over capacitive soft keys - but that's a different issue.

    3. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Reset hole?

      > how do you reset something with no physical buttons when the OS crashes?

      Hold a magnet to a specfic part of it for 5 seconds? True, you gotta go hunting, but no more so than when you needed a paperclip to get a floppy disc out if a Mac.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Boffin

      @AMBxx Re: Reset hole?

      Not sure why you used Paris... and I'm not going to make a hole joke at her expense....

      But to answer your question...

      You can reset the phone by allowing the power to drain completely from the phone. Then when it recharges it will reboot.

      In efficient? sure. But it works. ;-)

      The issue is that you want a tightly secured mobe which should be 'waterproof' to a greater degree than a phone w a button. I guess if you wanted to you could put in a screw that you can take out and it exposes the reset button. (Think of something like a watch stem. )

      But that would spoil the design.

      Just saying.

    5. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Reset hole?

      2 minutes in the microwave?

    6. Dave 15 Silver badge

      Re: Reset hole?

      I find throwing them at the nearest wall resets them pretty well. If not a large sledge hammer or repeated application of a hard boot heal. It is sad to report that they fail to reset properly and the next crock of shit seems just a shiny and even less reliable and shorter lived version of its recently reset predecessor. I don't know which phone will be next, seems neither apple nor Android are worth it. Might try Linux but hold out no hope as that's the under pinning of both the other two. Windows was tried once and although i didn't reset it the battery did. Maybe i will stick to the still functioning 10 year old symbian phone

      1. [VtS]Alf

        Re: Reset hole?

        You Shirley never tried to hit a Nokia 3310 with a sledgehammer.

        1. D@v3

          Re: Nokia 3310

          Best way to ruin a perfectly good sledgehammer

  3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    It could be practical.

    Firstly, the environmental impact of wireless charging is completely overblown. As I calculated for a post to a different article, the amount of energy wasted when fully charging a flat phone battery every day amounts to the same energy required to boil 100ml of water once a month. Most people boil at least 100ml more water than they need several times a day!

    Secondly, the lack of ports on the phone could be compensated by offering an external device that provides all the ports, which you can connect to the phone via a high-speed wireless link if & when required. It could even have a SIM slot so you can upload an eSIM to the phone using a physical SIM. But these days most functions that you need an external port for can be achieved via bluetooth so it would not be needed for most people.

    I can certainly see a big advantage in having a completely sealed phone that does not need to be left at the poolside or beach when I fancy a swim. And can be fished out of the toilet and washed should it suffer a very common accident!

    1. Francis Boyle

      Yes

      The wireless charging premium is around 50% – so nothing like going from a Prius to a Hummer.

      1. DJO Silver badge

        Re: Yes

        For one phone the difference is indeed insignificant.

        There are 7.8 billion people on this planet, if 5% of them were to use wireless charging the energy wasted would be far from insignificant.

        It's not too tricky to make connectors with no ingress for liquids.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Yes

          The Sony Xperia Z phones had external charging pins, as did Moto Mod phones and the the old Nokias - much of the convenience of wireless charging, without the power efficiency issue (which is more of an issue for portable power banks than it is for mains charging). I guess wireless charging does have the advantage of interoperability between brands and models of phones.

          1. DJO Silver badge

            Re: Yes

            interoperability between brands and models of phones.

            If only. There are currently 2 incompatible standards, Qi & PMA and so far Apple have not decided if they'll use one of them or create their own third standard.

          2. JassMan Silver badge

            Re: Yes

            In the same way that all TVs now have VESA mountimg points on the back, it would not be hard for the EU and the US lawmakers to agree on a standard distance (say 1cm) to be set between a pair of gold plated studs to be set at a standard position on the lower back of all phones. It could even be extended to all devices needing 5V charging. Although it might be a bit more difficult to position a watch/fitbit without some sort of adaptor.

            1. david bates

              Re: Yes

              Pebble watches have this - a magnet holds the changing gadget in place on the side of the watch very effectively

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Yes

          There are 7.8 billion people on this planet, if 5% of them were to use wireless charging the energy wasted would be far from insignificant.

          If I were the maker of the phone... I wouldn't care. 5% of the entire worlds population using my brick? I'd be laughing to the bank.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Yes

          It would still be insignificant compared to the amount of energy wasted by worldwide usage of things that aren't cellphones.

        4. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: Yes

          And the energy wasted by the wireless chargers those 7.8 billion people is completely insignificant when compared to the energy they waste on other things (such as filling the kettle with more water than is needed). It really doesn't help at all to make people *think* they are being self-sacrificing and "saving the planet" when they are doing nothing at all effective, and not doing things that would be effective.

          1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

            Re: Yes

            Can I be a bit of a pedant please? (Well, I'm a long-time commentard on El Reg)

            People keep referring to how bad it is to overfill the kettle, but I think that's over-rated. Most kettles are quite well insulated (to stop people burning themselves), so the extra water is still quite hot when the next cuppa is needed (probably within the hour). I just checked mine and after 1 hr it was still 50C, so only needs half heating (tap water is currently 7.4C)

            So the best solution to over-filled kettle power wastage is a kettle-cosy. There could be a nice lockdown cottage industry, hand-knitting insulating jackets for kettles to slow the cooling even further.

            1. Tomato42

              Re: Yes

              well, maybe you make yourself a new cup of tea 8 times a day, I do it 2, 3 tops, by the time I want another it's completely cold

              also, I don't know about your kettles, but all the ones I ever used required 400ml or 0.5l of water as a minimum, so you always have to "overfill" it if you just one one cup

              so, while wireless charging is a pointless gimmick, the argument that it's overly wasteful is barking up the wrong tree

              1. Clunking Fist

                Re: Yes

                "wireless charging is a pointless gimmick"

                I see you've never had a micro USB port fail.

        5. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Yes

          The point is that we all waste much more power with other things than we could ever save by avoiding wireless charging. When it comes to phones, I'm sure overcharging is probably more of a waste than wireless in the real world. And that's ignoring the horrifically inefficient production, distribution and recycling disposal of our consumer electronics.

          1. DJO Silver badge

            Re: Yes

            Oh yes, because we waste energy on X it is fine to waste some more energy on Y.

            That's a fucking stupid argument.

            1. Terry Barnes

              Re: Yes

              Indeed. Like arguing that your finances are in such bad shape you may as well buy a new car and head to the casino.

            2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

              Re: Yes

              No, it's about where savings can be most effectively achieved. Compared to things like poor building insulation, cars, air conditioning, etc. the amount that can be saved by not using wireless charging is negligible.

              1. DJO Silver badge

                Re: Yes

                If wireless charging was already widely adopted then that argument would have some merit.

                But it's not so creating a new way to waste more energy is plain stupid when there are perfectly adequate alternatives that do not waste energy.

  4. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Specific use cases

    Medical environments might benefit from devices that have no split lines or other crevices for bugs to hide in, and can be easily sterilised.

    Shit, make the whole case from a transparent polymer or glass and build a suitable UV source inside it and the device can be self-sterilising.

  5. JDPower Bronze badge

    That's not "all screen", the back is screenless. Come back when you've done it right lol

  6. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    yabbut...

    The first thing you're going to do with a phone like that is wrap it in silicone padding so it doesn't break when you drop it.

    1. noboard

      Re: yabbut...

      I was thinking the exact same thing. Stick it in you pocket without a screen protector and your keys will make short work of the screen. I can also imagine it being very slippy, so prone to flying off when picking it up.

  7. Trigonoceps occipitalis

    Android Auto

    "There is a wireless version of Android Auto, but availability is patchy, and limited to a handful of newer cars."

    There is an application that runs on a Raspberry PI. I've connected but otherwise not had much success myself but I think that is more to do with having a cheap mobile.

  8. HildyJ Silver badge
    Facepalm

    To quote the author it "looks cool"

    The pursuit of form over function (and sometimes to the detriment of function) plagues the phone and other industries.

    The original iPhone had both form and function (and it looked cool) but the pursuit of form led to the iPhone 4 where the function of the antennas was impaired, giving us "you're holding it wrong." And it continues to get worse. Glass backs that shatter, folding screens that break, changes in connectors that require new peripherals, the list goes on. And and to that functions that have been removed like replaceable batteries or memory cards.

    Give me more Bauhaus and less Wowhaus.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: To quote the author it "looks cool"

      It's extremely unlikely that Apple knowingly decided to go with poor reception in order to maintain an aesthetic - after all, the antenna issue was fixed in the iPhone 5, and that looked much the same as its predecessor.

      Most likely, the radio antenna issue wasn't picked up in early user testing because the iPhone 4 test units were in a plastic case (to allow the test units to be used in public 'real world' situations without disclosing its appearance), a plastic case that mitigated the antenna issues just as the production bumper cases later would.

  9. Gene Cash Silver badge

    in before iFixit

    rates it a -5 out of 10 for repair...

  10. ecofeco Silver badge

    No edge is a bad design

    The first time I used a Samsung border-less phone I found out within seconds that having no edge is really bad. You are always accidentally activating things.

    What's that old saying? Just because you can do something does not mean you should.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: No edge is a bad design

      Weird, never had that issue on a curved screen S8... Maybe your grip sensor was malfunctioning? You can find the codes to enter the phones hardware test suite online

    2. Tomato42
      Facepalm

      Re: No edge is a bad design

      but, but, but, if we try really hard, maybe we will come with better amount of wheels in a car than 4!—all the "designers"

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        Re: No edge is a bad design

        You need to wear a glove on the hand that holds the phone. Think Michael Jackson

  11. Russ Tarbox

    There is also a wireless version of Apple CarPlay

    It’s not very widespread, but it exists. I used it in a rental car and it was flawless and a great experience.

    I also had a wireless CarPlay dongle for my own car stereo that I tested. It worked, but had some niggles that made me switch back to just using a cable (as highlighted in the article, sometimes a cable just works best).

  12. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Things that could be solved before inventing curved glass

    I have never heard Bluetooth audio that isn't dull or prone to dropouts. Every phone I've owned has suffered from WiFi driver bugs for at least one month a year. Besides the low efficiency, wireless chargers actually have bugs in their little controller computers and they can crash themselves into a meltdown.

    Once all that's fixed I'll be happy to shop for a completely wireless phone.

  13. Dave 15 Silver badge
    Unhappy

    First

    First let's get a phone where the screen works all the time. My android one Nokia keeps needing an on off cycle every few keystrokes. One where the battery isn't dead after a year like my blackberry which dwelled up and broke or the apple so slow (to preserve the battery) you can't use it. I still have and use an old symbian smartphone because it comes from an era where producing a phone that worked and worked reliably was important and the software platform was designed for battery devices instead of desktops

  14. Peter Galbavy

    Have I missed the bit where someone explains how the mic and speaker / earpiece work?

  15. Jan 0
    Boffin

    Make it easier to fabricate.

    If it's so difficult to fabricate

    "a deep 88° bend on four sides",

    surely their engineers could have opted for a shallow 88° bend on four sides!

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