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Smartphone Brands, Xiaomi and Huawei, Feud over Foldable Phone Technology


January 26, 2024

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Competition in China’s smartphone market heated up recently, when Huawei’s chief executive of consumer products, Richard Yu Chengdong, reportedly said “some competitors took our intellectual property and renamed it as their own”. Not naming names of course, the comment has been presumed to refer to a foldable phone patent, kick-starting a public spat between Huawei and Xiaomi.


The comment was reportedly in response to Xiaomi’s refined “keel hinge” design, employed in its foldable phone, which Huawei argues is a copy of its dual-track, wing-shaped hinge on the Mate X3, X4 and X5 models. Xiaomi has denied the allegations, reportedly stating that they were “completely out of line with facts”, which amounts to “defaming a rival and misleading the public”.


The foldable phone market is expected to triple by 2027, accounting for 50 million units annually. Manufacturers have been striving to reduce the size of the “crease” on the screen of foldable phones to increase desirability, which presents a key engineering challenge.


Xiaomi reportedly stated that its new-generation hinge helps improve durability, with the crease increasing only by 10 microns after 200,000 folds. Huawei’s foldable product, the Mate X5, sold out soon after its release in September.

 

Authors: Emily Groper and Kasia Donovan

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