Xiaomi is no stranger to pushing the envelope of modern smartphone design, regularly churning out eccentric concepts and futuristic prototypes. Many of the company’s patents tend to collect double takes, but its latest seems to skip past ‘novelty’ and land firmly into ‘brilliant’. As LetsGoDigital spotted, a recent Xiaomi patent features a number of interesting design elements. Firstly, there’s no notch, hole-punch, or pop-up selfie camera in sight, instead relying on an under-screen camera. We’ve seen this design concept before, though only conceptually. However, by far the more interesting aspect of the design is found in the two mysterious circles adorning its top. The curious holes appear at first glance to hide some sort of speaker or camera system, but the truth is that these are built-in wireless earbuds.
The swiveling design of Xiaomi’s latest patent
Similar to the iconic S Pen on Samsung’s Galaxy Note series, the phone will apparently house its own wireless earpieces, which resemble the slim, cylindrical design of Xiaomi’s True Wireless Earbuds. The earpieces would have a hinged section to lay flat in storage but fold to fit securely in your ear, AirPod-style.
There are, of course, a few problems that would need to be considered here. Firstly, the design will make the phone more susceptible to environmental damage from water or dust, so it may never get an IP rating. Secondly, earbuds are generally rounded and relatively thick to provide a secure, comfortable fit, something that’s pretty hard to reconcile with the slim design of a modern smartphone.
Speaking of slim, the phone itself looks to be sleek and trim, with a straight-sided aluminum frame that recalls the iPhone of years gone by. It also features a volume rocker and power button, along with another button of yet-unknown function. It’s similar in design and placement to the Google Assistant Button on LG phones, so it may be for the Assistant or Xiaomi’s own Xiao AI. Of course, a more exciting (and logically) idea is that the button may be for ejecting the earpieces.
No patent guarantees a real-life release, but the efficient and futuristic design of this one does make one hope. We’ll have to keep an eye out it in the future!