Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has unveiled the Mi Mix, a new handset that has several similarities to the rumored Apple iPhone 8.

As Vlad Savov writes for The Verge, the Chinese company has suffered a difficult few years. However, Xiaomi has stolen the headlines today with the unveiling of the Mi Mix.

Xiaomi Mi Mix
Image source: YouTube Video Screenshot

Mi Mix handset has edge-to-edge display

The 6.4-inch smartphone has an edge-to-edge display which has almost no bezel. It’s packed full of impressive components and even features a ceramic back section that can be fitted with optional sections of 19-karat gold.

While the removal of the sensors and earpiece from the top bezel is quite challenging in an engineering sense, most of the technology can be found on other existing smartphones. However, as Savov points out, they are rarely seen in combination in one handset. There are also similarities with certain features that Apple is rumored to be working on for the iPhone 8.

Given the fact that the iPhone 7 was largely similar to the iPhone 6s, it looks like the iPhone 8 will get a major overhaul. This also makes sense because 2017 is the tenth anniversary of the Apple smartphone.

What is Apple planning for the iPhone 8?

There are few options available to Apple if it wants to make a splash with the iPhone 8. Making a thinner smartphone or a curved one are unlikely to impress.

That leaves using different materials or redesigning the bezels as other options. Apple was one of the first companies to make smartphones from aluminum, but now almost every premium handset is made from metal.

Using ceramic could be the next step. Apple already uses the material on its range-topping Apple Watch, and the iPhone could be next. One theory is that the company will release a limited edition iPhone 8 with a ceramic case, which will allow it to avoid supply chain issues.

Ceramic is much better at resisting scratches than aluminum, and it can look great as well. It could well be the right material to mark a special anniversary for the iPhone.

Smaller bezels for future smartphones

The prevailing opinion is that the bezels will also see some major changes for the iPhone 8. Some commentators believe that the company made its first move towards getting rid of the bezels by removing the physical home button on the iPhone 7.

Tech companies are now also capable of building fingerprint identification technology into display units, while the Xiaomi Mi Mix also boasts an ultrasound proximity sensor. Thanks to technological advances, it appears that Apple will be able to almost completely get rid of the bezels on the iPhone 8 if it wants to.

While we are left to speculate about the iPhone 8, the Xiaomi Mi Mix will go on sale in just over a week. It’s amazing that the smartphone has a ceramic case and advanced technology such as a piezoelectric speaker, which negates the need for an earpiece by generating sound using the metal frame of the phone.

The Mi Mix will retail for just over $500. Its display takes up 91.3% of the front of the handset. The bottom bezel houses the front-facing camera, which means you’ll have to rotate the phone to take selfies.

Inside the device are a Snapdragon 821 chipset, 4 GB RAM, and 128 GB internal storage, putting the Mi Mix on par with the Google Pixel. Other specs include a headphone jack, fingerprint sensor, 16-megapixel rear camera and a 4,400 mAh battery.

Xiaomi accused of ripping off Apple

At $516 the basic model is relatively pricey, while a premium version will sell for $590 and boast 6GB RAM and 256GB storage. You might have to be quick if you do want to get your hands on one because Xiaomi says that the Mi Mix is a concept phone.

While the Mi Mix has garnered some positive attention, the new handset has also been criticized. Thom Holwerda of OS News believes that Xiaomi is stealing ideas from the future iPhone 8.

“It’s pretty blatantly shameless that Xiaomi is ripping off the next iPhone, and I hope Obama (or Clinton, the next president) bans Xiaomi from shipping this shameless ripoff of the next iPhone from sales in the US to protect Apple’s courageous innovation from these foul Asian companies,” he wrote.

Chinese companies have been linked to industrial espionage in the past, but it seems like a bit of stretch to accuse Xiaomi of ripping off a device that is still only a rumor. However, Holwerda was not finished there: “The shamelessness is just unbelievable here. I can’t believe we live in a world that allows Asian companies to copy future Apple products. It makes me sick,” he continued.

Whatever your views on the claims of industrial espionage, the fact remains that the Xiaomi Mi Mix provides an interesting window into the future of smartphone design.