Xiaomi patent promises the end of phone bezels – but at what cost?

For the last two years, phone manufacturers have been going out of their way to eliminate bezels and maximise screen space.

While the dream is a 100% screen-to-body ratio, the best handsets out there have only hit the low 90s – and usually with some pretty ugly design choices as a compromise: notches and hole-punch cutouts to name two.

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A new patent uncovered by LetsGoDigital and published by the World Intellectual Property Office shows that Xiaomi is in the driving seat to hit that 100% goal first.

As you can see from the image, this really is a phone with no bezel to speak of. There’s no notch, no chin at the bottom and no obvious edges on the side either. Instead, we have just a curved edge all the way around, where the screen effortlessly curves into the back.

If Xiaomi can pull it off, it’ll unquestionably be the best-looking phone around, although it’s important to remember that this is just a render based on a patent. Xiaomi could just be patenting the design to prevent others getting there first.

Then again, it’s hardly surprising that Xiaomi would be fighting hard to be the first to 100%, given how close the company has come with the Mi Mix 3 (93.4%). You have to wonder if this is the Mi Mix 4 we’re getting a preview of.

The Mi Mix 3 achieved this feat by including a slide-out camera mechanic, which wasn’t a perfect compromise for our money.

As we wrote in our review: “Its inclusion means you have to be willing to live with the added bulk and weight the other phones with a similar screen size don’t suffer from, not to mention the vulnerability to dust, dirt and water ingress that this phone has no defence against.”

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You have to wonder if a bezel-free phone is a concept that’s better in theory than in practice. After all, a phone with this much screen is just asking to crack at the first light drop.

You’d want a case to protect it, and at that point you may end up wondering why you bought such a fancy design in the first place if you ended up having to hide it away.

Does the Xiaomi patent point to an incredible innovation or pure impracticality? Let us know on Twitter: @TrustedReviews.