Xiaomi allegedly designs a phone with an in-built solar panel
According to a new entry allegedly filed with the WIPO Design Database, Xiaomi is working on a new phone with green energy in mind. The document in question contains images suggesting that the device has an in-built solar panel to help charge its battery.
At least, there is a large, grid-like inclusion on the device's rear panel which may conform to an array of solar cells. There is also Chinese-language text directly linked to it, which, while not translated, suggests that this component is indeed the aspect of the design to be patented.
This innovative design, should it turn out to be genuine, may be a response to the ever-present demand for bigger, longer-lasting batteries in every new generation of smartphones. This stems from increasingly power-hungry features such as 6-inch-plus 4K screens or reverse wireless charging.
An interesting sign of this trend's prevalence has recently surfaced on Kickstarter in the form of the Unihertz Titan. It is a cost-effective, ultra-rugged QWERTY phone, one of the best features of which is its massive 6000mAh battery.
In fact, it is surprising that Unihertz did not emulate Xiaomi in its apparent new design twist. This alleged patent does not specify whether its apparent solar panel is intended to power the phone in the long term, or is more of a useful feature in an emergency.
As the phone also has a USB type C port in a conventional location, the latter is probably the case. However, as this design also appears to lack a notch or a pop-up component for front-facing cameras, it is possible that the "solar panel" is in fact a secondary display. On the other hand, were this truly the case, this part of the phone would have matched the blank whiteness of the screen's representation in the patent.