Apple Inc.’s next iPhone is rumoured to feature an all-glass, edgeless design – but Xiaomi Inc. may have beaten it to the punch.

This week the Beijing, China-based smartphone maker, the world’s third-largest, revealed the Mi Mix, a concept smartphone roughly the size and shape of Apple’s latest – but with a 6.4-inch edgeless display that Xiaomi boasts is 23 per cent larger than the 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus.

Courtesy Xiaomi
Courtesy Xiaomi

To achieve this feat, Xiaomi’s designers removed the earpiece speaker, proximity sensor, and front camera from the top of the phone, replacing the speaker with a ceramic drive unit that uses the phone’s metal frame to generate sound; the traditional infrared sensor with a built-in ultrasonic one; and moving the front camera to the bottom-right corner, where it can be turned upside-down for selfies.

Courtesy Xiaomi.
Courtesy Xiaomi.

Xiaomi also hopes to break new ground with the phone’s ceramic casing, which is assembled without adhesives.

mi-mix-body
Courtesy Xiaomi

The Mi Mix’s specs are impressive too, featuring a 2.35GHz Snapdragon 821 processor; 4GB or 6GB RAM and 128GB or 256GB of storage, depending on the model; a 16MP rear camera; and 4400mAh battery, larger than both the 2,900mAh iPhone 7 Plus and the 3,600mAh Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.

It’s unlikely that Xiaomi is the first smartphone maker to attempt building a smartphone with an edge-free display; according to respected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo Apple has been working on an all-glass case for its next iPhone, and earlier this year industry commenter John Gruber revealed on his Talk Show podcast that what he called the iPhone 8 could feature an edge-free screen.

Edge-free iPhone concept from Czech designer Marek Weidlich.
Edge-free iPhone concept from freelance Czech designer Marek Weidlich.

Apple hasn’t commented on either prediction, but if the edge-free display rumour is true, Xiaomi appears to be getting there first.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you happen to work at Apple), it doesn’t look like Xiaomi’s iPhone killer will be hitting North American shores anytime soon: Responding to a question on Reddit, MIUI India product manager Jai Mani indicated that a launch in other markets for the time being was unlikely.

“It’s still a concept so I don’t think it really makes sense to launch it in other markets,” Mani wrote, clarifying that he could not speak with authority regarding markets outside India.

Despite the “concept phone” designation, the Mi Mix is being released on Nov. 4 in China, with a price tag of ¥3,499 (approximately $690 CDN). Xiaomi is also releasing a gold-accented “18K” model with more storage that will retail for ¥3,999.

Thus far, the only official English-language material Xiaomi appears to have produced for the Mi Mix is the video below (which we highly recommend watching – it essentially declares the Mi Mix a society-altering tool on par with the first knife).

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