Back in December of 2013 Xiaomi’s founder and CEO Lei Jun posted an image to his official Weibo Account. This image contains what looks like a modular smartphone with the name Magic Cube. It has removable modules similar to Google’s Project Ara modular smartphone. It is now over a year later and the question is still being asked, is Xiaomi working on a modular smartphone?
Here are the facts:
- This image was posted by the CEO and Founder of Xiaomi, Lei Jun.
- The image was posted at a time when news of Google’s Ara modular smartphone was starting to circulate.
- The image shows what can clearly be defined as a modular smartphone.
- Just a few months before the publishing of the image Xiaomi hired Hugo Barra as head of global expansion. Hugo Barra was previously a part of Google’s Android team. In an interview, Hugo Barra mentioned that this “was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, truly a dream job, this idea of building a global company which could be as significant as Google, from the ground up.”
Xiaomi Inc is a privately owned Chinese company which was funded in April of 2010. Xiaomi’s first smartphone was released back in August of 2011, currently they are the world’s third largest smartphone distributor, bested by Apple in second place and Samsung in first. They design, develop and sell consumer electronics, mobile apps and smartphones.
The image was posted only for a short time, then removed. My guess was that Xiaomi allowed enough time for news of the image to spread then pulled it so they didn’t have to answer to the many questions that followed. It is possible that the company wanted to just give everyone a taste of what to expect, or maybe they wanted to see if there would be an interest in what could be an early concept.
A look at the image
The image shows what looks like a very early render for the Magic Cube modular smartphone. On the back there is a main module containing a camera flash on top, this could be the main application processor. To the right there is a camera module on top, and another module below. Up front there is the display module which is bundled with the speaker and capacitive touch buttons.
There is a pretty good chance that Xiaomi will produce a modular smartphone, if not, I’m pretty sure another Chinese company will do so.
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