Take a glance from Apple's iPhone 7 to Google's new Pixel and you'll immediately see a resemblance. Despite Apple's lawsuits, pretty much all phones have looked just about the same since the iPhone. Will it ever really change? It's hard to know for sure, but this new phone from Chinese company Xiaomi offers a glimpse at the possible, subtly different, and lovely looking future.
The is the newest phone from the Chinese juggernaut that, as of right now, doesn't have a huge presence here in the United States. The first thing you'll notice about it is the almost complete lack of bezels, that extra space around the top, bottom, and sides that typically hides all the electronics that a screen needs to function. Not only does it look pretty, but it helps you .
The iPhone has been married to its iconic top and bottom bezels for years and years—the bottom so there's room for a button, and the top presumably for the sake of symmetry. Android phones, meanwhile, have experimented with cutting back on the non-screen space to varying degrees. Motorola phones like the and the have some of the smallest bezels you can find on mass-market phones, but they're still there. And they're technically there on the new Xiaomi Mi Mix as well, but they're so thin as to be practically a technicality.
Xiaomi isn't the first company to pull this extreme trick. In 2014, Sharp released a phone called the Aquos that , if not quite as refined. Unfortunately, by most accounts, it was also a fairly mediocre phone. In the years since, Sharp's updated the design with a little more polish, producing another concept phone even more like the Xiaomi, but it's not for sale.
While Sharp may not be a big name phone-maker like Xiaomi is in China, Sharp's fancy phones are actually more exciting for a very particular reason: Apple is rumored to , future iPhones that may not have buttons and no real need for bezels. Future iPhones that are due for a big, flashy update for the gadget's tenth anniversary coming up in 2017. There's no guarantee—or even rock-solid indication—that Apple is eyeing this particular tech for the iPhone 8, but it's not out of the question.
Of course while removing bezels has its upsides—prettier, smaller phones with a bigger screens—it also comes with its challenges. Without bezels, a phone's screen will routinely be in with your palm, so the phone needs software that teaches it the difference between that and an on-purpose touch. Not to mention that bezel-free screens can be easier to break and harder to replace. Still, the increasing prevalence of this trick in more and more phones that are actual for sale means that the hardware and software challenges are starting to be tackled. It's only a matter of time before we see this in something like an iPhone or a Pixel.
Xiaomi's new Mi Mix at roughly $510 or $590 for the 128GB and 256GB versions, respectively.