[Update: Delayed indefinitely] The Xiaomi Mi MIX Alpha has a surround-display design, 180% screen-to-body ratio, and costs $2800
Xiaomi’s Mi MIX lineup was first introduced as a revolutionary product with a nearly bezel-less display. The concept has matured over the generations with the Mi MIX 2 and the Mi MIX 2S. and with the fourth MIX smartphone, Xiaomi is doing something unique and futuristic. The Mi MIX Alpha is another major leap forward for Xiaomi, as it comes with a display that wraps around the edges and continues on to the back. This makes for a two-sided display but without any discontinuity apart from a thin strip for the camera assembly. The Mi MIX Alpha gets a screen-to-body ratio of 180.6%.
The “Surround Display” deployed by Xiaomi makes the Mi MIX Alpha a truly futuristic phone, but there’s a lot to qualm about its durability, especially since you cannot use a case with it. The “4D curved” display on the MIX Alpha is a work of art but we may have to wait to see this mature into a commercial device. Clearly, the display beats the waterfall displays that we’ve seen on the devices such as the Vivo NEX 3.
The Mi MIX Alpha does not have a visible side frame and all of the antennas for the 5G connectivity have been housed within the thin strip. There’s no earpiece either and the smartphone uses ultrasonic vibrations to emulate the earpiece. To keep the Mi MIX Alpha lightweight, Xiaomi is using a titanium alloy for the construction of the smartphone. The bar on the back is made of black ceramic and there’s Sapphire Glass protection over the cameras.
To make up for the lack of buttons, there are pressure-sensitive areas on the sides that function as buttons. These areas can otherwise be used as part of the display. The pressure-sensitive zones can also be used as triggers while gaming. Users will be able to slide a part of the display to increase or decrease the volume.
To prevent accidental touches, Xiaomi’s AI will smartly monitor the orientation of the phone, the accelerometer and use cues from the current app. Xiaomi claims to have mastered palm rejection on this all-screen device, but we’ll wait to see how this works in reality.
The Mi MIX Alpha utilizes the display on the back to run versions of apps like Maps, calculator and more.
The triple camera setup on the phone includes the 108MP Samsung ISOCELL Bright HMX camera sensor that was previously teased by Xiaomi. The camera sensor is four times larger than the 48MP Sony IMX586 sensor. It’s a 1/1.33-inch sensor with a pixel size of 1.6 microns. The output 108MP images are of 12032 x 9024 in resolution and come in at nearly 40MB in size. There’s a 20MP ultrawide camera with a 117º field of view and a 12MP depth sensor. There’s no front camera on the phone, since you can simply flip the phone and use the display on the back as your viewfinder. This essentially gives you a 108MP front camera in practice.
Internally, the Mi MIX Alpha is a Xiaomi flagship that comes with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus, with 12GB of RAM and 512GB of UFS 3.0 storage. There’s a 4,050mAh battery on the smartphone and it gets support for 40W Turbo Charging. And of course, the phone comes with 5G support.
Being a concept smartphone, the Mi MIX Alpha will not come to the markets instantly but users will be able to play with prototypes at select Mi Stores in China. The smartphone will only be produced on a small scale to gauge interest from users and will, thus, be priced at CNY 19,999, which converts into a price of about $2,812/€2,560/₹1,99,000. While the pricing may seem outrageous, it does feel justified due to the conceptual nature of the smartphone and bleeding-edge technologies that it comes with. As is with the previous Mi Mix smartphones, Xiaomi isn’t really looking to sell a lot of this smartphone, but use them as vehicles to show the future to end-users.
Update: Xiaomi Mi MIX Alpha delayed indefinitely
Xiaomi had always maintained that the Mi MIX Alpha was primarily a concept smartphone, one that showcased what was possible instead of focusing on only what was feasible like most mainstream smartphones. Despite its conceptual nature, the phone was supposed to be made available to the public in limited quantity in December 2019, but that has not happened yet. According to a new report, Xiaomi does not have any dates to share for the Mi MIX Alpha’s limited availability. No reasons have been mentioned for the indefinite delay, but one only needs to look at the smartphone and the technical challenges involved to be sympathetic towards the delay.