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Xiaomi Reveals Dual-Folding Flexible Phone in Teaser Video
The Chinese mobile maker broke the news with a teaser video posted on Weibo that shows Xiaomi president and co-founder Lin Bin using what at first looks like a normal tablet device, until he folds back both sides of the display so that it resembles a distinctly phone-like form factor.
The physical power button is side-mounted on the device when in landscape orientation, which places it in a top-center location when in phone mode. In a neat touch, the size and orientation of the user interface also automatically adjusts in order to conform to the new dimensions of the display.
In a message accompanying the post, Bin wrote that the device is the result of the company overcoming technical challenges relating to folding displays, foldable hinges, flexible covers, and UI adaptation.
Bin admitted that what he hopes will become "the world's first dual-folding phone" is still just a prototype at this stage, but said that the company will consider mass producing it if the response from consumers is positive. Bin floated two possible names for the phone – the Mi Dual Flex and the Mi MIX Flex – although he said Xiaomi is open to suggestions from the public.
Last year, Samsung showed off its new Infinity Flex display technology in a device that features a 7.3-inch flexible display that can be folded in half. The company said it had developed an advanced composite polymer that's "flexible and tough" to replace the glass that's usually used as a display cover in smartphones.
Samsung is expected to formally announce its first commercially available foldable phone during its Galaxy S10 event on February 20 in San Francisco, California.
Rumors that Apple is developing an iPhone with a foldable display stretch back to December 2016, when it was reported that LG's display division would begin mass-producing foldable displays for smartphones as early as 2018. Apple was said to have chosen to work with LG Display and not Samsung out of fears that Samsung could get ahold of the sensitive tech.
LG is said to have created a dedicated task force to start developing a foldable OLED display for a future iPhone, while its siser company LG Innotek has a team developing a rigid flexible printed circuit board or (RFPCB) to go along with it.
LG has shown off several foldable display prototypes over recent years, including one that folds over like a book and a second that rolls up much like a newspaper.