Xiaomi may release a folding smartphone by the end of this year, and according to new rumors, the phone may resemble the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip. This means that, unlike the Samsung Galaxy Fold or the Huawei Mate Xs, Xiaomi’s phone will be a clamshell device, designed to fold up and be easier to carry around than normal big-screen smartphones.
The rumor comes from sources in the supply chain, who state Xiaomi has approached Samsung Display to supply it with the screens needed, ready to start mass production of the phone during the second half of 2020. It’s not clear whether Samsung will be able to meet the demand, however.
In the ZDNet report on the supply chain rumor, an official is quoted as saying Samsung Display’s flexible screen production line is currently adjusting to cope with a future Samsung folding phone. This may not leave much room for Xiaomi, so should it come out with a folding phone, initial supplies may be limited providing the deal can be struck.
Xiaomi has been linked with folding smartphones before. In January 2019, Xiaomi co-founder Bin Lin showed off a working prototype on video. The phone was a backward folding device along the same lines as the Huawei Mate Xs. Towards the end of the year, it filed a patent for a clamshell folding smartphone, and renders were created around it, giving us an idea of what the final device may look like.
Like the Galaxy Z Flip, the Xiaomi phone is shown with a large internal screen and a smaller outside screen when folded up, which shows the time and notification icons. The hinge design looks slightly different to Samsung’s version, and the most recent report says Xiaomi is working on ensuring it’s very durable, while still enabling the same variable angle control seen on the Galaxy Z Flip.
Xiaomi also has a strong relationship with Samsung. It has used Samsung AMOLED screen panels in several of its phones, including the Mi 9, and apparently the Mi 10 too. It has also collaborated with the company on creating the 108-megapixel camera sensor used on the Galaxy S20 Ultra and the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro. This will likely put Xiaomi close to the top of the list for purchasing the folding screen panels when they are available.
If Xiaomi can secure the folding screens from Samsung and begins mass production after the summer, a release may come before the end of 2020. But production and release plans do change, especially given the continued uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.