Xiaomi modular smartphone met zoom camera module Xiaomi patents a special smartphone that consists of several modules. The device has a full screen design and a periscopic zoom camera.
Xiaomi modular smartphone met zoom camera module
Modular smartphones, once in a while you hear about it again. We have of course seen several examples in the past. Think for example of Phonebloks, by the Dutch designer Dave Hakkens. In 2016, however, this project ran aground, because Google unexpectedly withdrew. Not much later, the Motorola Moto Z series was created, a modular smartphone series that uses Moto Mods modules to expand the functions of the phone.
The Dutch producer Fairphone also uses replaceable modules, albeit with a different purpose. By making the smartphone modular, it is easier to replace just one part, instead of your entire phone. An effective way to combat eWaste.
A new patent shows that Xiaomi is also considering developing a modular smartphone – after the company was awarded a patent last week for a dual slider smartphone and a rotating pop-up camera.
Xiaomi smartphone consisting of several modules
In February 2020, Beijing Xiaomi Mobile Software Co. Ltd. a patent pending with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for an ‘Electronic device’. The documentation was recently released on April 29, 2021 and also included in the database of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), for worldwide protection of the patented technology.
The extensive documentation describes in detail about a Xiaomi smartphone that is made up of several modules, three to be precise. The functions may differ per module.
To better visualize this specially designed smartphone, the Dutch graphic designer Jermaine Smit, aka Concept Creator , created a set of product renders for LetsGoDigital based on the Xiaomi patent. In addition to the two patented designs, Jermaine has also created a third, own variant – more about this later in this publication.
The patented Xiaomi modular phone consists of several modules. The first module (upper part) contains the motherboard and the camera system, in the second module (middle part) the battery is processed. In addition, a third module is used, which forms the underside of the telephone. The modules are easily interchangeable and can contain additional functions. Consider, for example, a speaker module or a zoom camera module.
At least two modules contain a screen, which once connected together form one large display panel – with no visible seam, as stated in the documentation. It is a full screen design. The modules can be slid on and off each other by means of a rail system. It can only be correctly confirmed in one way. As soon as it is properly engaged, the modules make contact with each other and the device can be put into use.
The housing can be made of metal or plastic. Two different types of camera modules are shown and described. First of all, we see a square-shaped camera system, consisting of a triple camera with flash – somewhat similar to the budget Redmi 9C .
In addition, a vertical camera system is shown, consisting of four cameras. It is remarkable that the bottom lens has a square design. This indicates that this camera module has a periscopic zoom camera, so you can also zoom in with this special device. Of course Xiaomi can think of any desired alternative for this. This has inspired Jermaine to also make a third, own design for the renders. It is equipped with a triple camera and a small display – as we know it from the recently introduced Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra . The design is also a bit reminiscent of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 , but that aside.
Modular smartphone with under-screen camera
This modular phone will not only have a rear camera. A selfie camera will also be integrated. However, it is not clear from the documentation what kind of camera it is. Currently, many punch-hole cameras are used, but smartphones are also expected in the near future where the camera is processed under the screen .
Both would be a possibility, finally it is already known that Xiaomi wants to announce its first smartphone with an under-display camera this year. The company even recently patented a rotating under-screen camera .
For the renders we assumed that an under-screen front camera will be used. Of course Xiaomi could still vary this by releasing multiple modules. One with a simple front and rear camera set-up and a more advanced variant.
This is clearly a big advantage of modular smartphones. Users can relatively easily replace functions as desired by switching modules. Yet this is not Xiaomi’s only motive for developing such a smartphone.
Does Xiaomi see a chance to release a modular phone?
The main motivation for Xiaomi to develop this modular smartphone is similar to that of Fairphone. Making it easier to replace just one module can save on repair costs, as described in the documentation.
This also benefits the planet, because if there are no unnecessary parts to be replaced, eWaste can be counteracted. This is an increasingly important spearhead for many smartphone manufacturers.
Apple is clearly a leader in this. The American producer has the goal of operating completely climate-neutral by 2030, throughout the entire chain. As part of this goal, chargers or earplugs are no longer included since the introduction of the iPhone 12 series.
It did not take long for Samsung to follow this philosophy, which means that the Samsung Galaxy S21 smartphone models are also supplied without a charger. Not everyone is happy with these new developments, of course, a charger is considered an essential part to keep the phone working.
Xiaomi was the only smartphone manufacturer with a solid answer to the two titans. The Xiaomi Mi 11 was put on the market in two different forms: with and without charger. Both variants received exactly the same price, so customers can decide for themselves whether or not they need a new charger. A genius promotion!
What this has to do with the modular smartphone? Although various projects have been set up over time for modular devices, many of these projects have been discontinued in the meantime. If Xiaomi actually wants to market this device, good marketing will be essential. It can certainly help to respond in a handy way to today’s trends – think of: combating eWaste, reuse, making cheap repairs possible, etc.
Should Xiaomi indeed decide to release this modular phone, we naturally also expect to find a charger in the sales box. Jermaine has designed the sales packaging, if it is up to him the new, extremely fast 120 Watt charger is included.
It is not the first time that Xiaomi is associated with a modular device. In 2013 – when the Phonebook project received a lot of attention worldwide – Lei Jun, co-founder and CEO of Xiaomi, published several photos of a so-called Xiaomi Magic Cube modular phone on the Chinese forum Weibo .
Although this device was never released, it now appears that Xiaomi is still playing with the idea of developing a smartphone that consists of several modules. Who knows where this will lead in the future. That’s all about Xiaomi modular smartphone met zoom camera module.