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Xiaomi's Mi Mix is almost all screen (hands-on)

With a ceramic body and virtually no bezel, the Chinese phonemaker's new 6.4-inch device is a real knockout.

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Xiaomi has a new concept phone -- but it's not actually a concept, it's real. And it's crazy.

Designed with the help of French designer Philippe Starck, and announced here at Xiaomi's Beijing event today, the 6.4-inch device features a striking bezel-less display. Where other phones usually keep a top and bottom area available for the front camera and home button, the Mix does away with both, leaving only a small space in the bottom right corner for the front camera.

The phone will be available in China on November 4 and will come in two models. One, housing 4GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage, will sell for 3,499 yuan, which converts to about $510, AU$680 or £420. A premium model with 18-carat gold embossing and 256GB onboard storage will cost 3,999 yuan. That's approximately $590, AU$770 or £480.

The Mix is quite the game changer. In order to accommodate the lack of a top and bottom bezel, where the speaker for making calls usually is, Xiaomi is using what it calls a "piezoelectric ceramic actuator" to deliver voice calls to your ears. It's not the first phone to operate with a tiny bezel though, with Sharp going the same route in 2014.

Other cool technology innovations include using an ultrasound sensor to replace the proximity sensor, and this works from behind the display like the actuator. Xiaomi has also included a palm rejection system, as you'll likely accidentally touch the screen when holding it.

The whole phone is encased in beautifully glossy black ceramic, though this may end up being a fingerprint magnet. On the back is the 16-megapixel rear camera and a fingerprint sensor. Unlike the iPhone 7 ($575.99 at Amazon.com) or the Samsung Galaxy S7 ($259.99 at Amazon.com), the Mi Mix isn't water resistant.

Having played with the phone briefly, I'm pretty impressed with the build quality and how the phone feels in the hand. I'm really not a big fan of phones with screens bigger than 6 inches, as I think they are too unwieldy to use properly, but the Mix is very close to changing my mind.

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Because it wouldn't be a phone without a selfie camera, the Mix's front-facing 5-megapixel shooter at the bottom right corner. It's an awkward location, to be honest.

Aloysius Low/CNET

There's just something about the ceramic body and all-screen design that knocks me out. This is likely what phones in the future will look like, and Xiaomi has beaten its competitors to the punch. But if you're already thinking of getting one, the bad news is that it will only be sold in China, and in limited quantities due to the difficulty of getting the ceramic body done right and the scarcity of its exotic parts.

Xiaomi says the phone is made mainly for its hardcore fans who tend to snap up all of its devices, but it's likely we may see technology such as the wide screen trickle down to future Xiaomi devices.

Key specs

  • Snapdragon 821 processor
  • 4,400 mAh battery featuring Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0
  • NFC
  • 16-megapixel rear camera
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The phone says "designed by Mi" instead of the usual logo on the back.

Aloysius Low/CNET

Xiaomi Mi Mix may be the future of phones (CNET Update report)

Where to Buy

Xiaomi Mi Mix (black)

Visit manufacturer site for details.

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