Xiaomi had a surprise after it unveiled the latest Mi Note 2 flagship phablet on Tuesday in Beijing.
The company brought famed French designer Philippe Starck onstage, to present a concept phone called the Xiaomi MIX whose development is already underway.
Starck is known for numerous iconic products, such as his Juicy Salif citrus squeezer and the Louis Ghost Chair.
But the phone isn’t just good looks. In order to stretch the screen to the top edge, Xiaomi had to do away with a number of elements found on nearly every phone, such as the speaker hole, proximity sensor and front-facing camera.
Xiaomi’s CEO Lei Jun explained that the company spent three years researching a speaker replacement, and finally figured out a piezoelectric speaker that will vibrate and transmit sound to the ear. Traditional phone speakers push vibrations through the air instead.
Another element, the proximity sensor, detects light to figure out if the phone is pressed to the ear or face-down, and shuts off the screen to prevent accidental taps.
Xiaomi’s replacement for this is an ultrasonic sensor behind the display, that instead of emitting infrared, sends out sound signals to detect if objects are near the face of the screen. This is similar to what bats do with echolocation, for instance.
The third element, the front-facing camera, has been moved to the bottom right corner of the phone.
The phone will come with high-end specs: a powerful Snapdragon 821 chip at 2.35GHz, and a big 4400mAh battery.
Come Nov. 4, Xiaomi plans to charge 3499 RMB ($517) for the 4GB RAM, 128GB storage model, and the higher-spec 6GB RAM, 256GB model with the 18K gold will cost 3999 RMB ($590).