What do noodles have to do with Xiaomi's foldable phone?
Xiaomi riffs on popular iPad meme with a cup of noodles
Xiaomi has released another video showing off what its new foldable phone is capable of. And it's… weird.
The smartphone maker, the first to prototype a phone that bends on both ends, published a Weibo post on Wednesday showing its phone being placed on a cup of instant noodles. Yes, the ones you pour boiling water over.
When you’re making your noodles, of course, you don’t want all that heat to escape. So Xiaomi offered this helpful suggestion: "When working overtime, it’s recommended you cover your cup of noodles with a folding phone, they will be tastier."
This may seem like an odd way for a company to promote its most advanced piece of technology. The company’s first tease of the phone in January was a lot more conservative, with company president and co-founder Lin Bin demonstrating how to watch videos on a foldable screen.
So why the cup of noodles? Well, as with so many things on the internet, it started with a meme... but it can also be seen as a jab at Apple’s iPad.
Using iPads to cover instant noodles has been an ongoing joke among Chinese internet users, who claim it shows the only real use they’ve found for their expensive tablets.
It’s not clear whether Xiaomi meant to allude to Apple. Amazon’s Kindle has become the butt of jokes for the same reason, and the ecommerce company has even used the meme in its own marketing on Taobao. But Xiaomi is tapping into a well-known habit among Chinese technology users to use their smartphones for almost everything: Playing games, reading books, shopping and much more.
Besides covering noodles, Xiaomi’s foldable phone may have an even more appealing trait: the price. Samsung’s Galaxy Fold will retail for US$1,980 and Huawei's Mate X for US$2,600. These prices reach new heights for smartphones, and they’re completely out of reach for the average consumer. One Weibo user quipped it’s a pity their kidney is only worth US$1,200.
Xiaomi hasn’t revealed pricing for its unnamed foldable phone yet, but media speculation has put the price at around US$1000.
Xiaomi’s foldable phone might have a while before it’s released, though, because the new video still doesn't show a front-facing camera. For a country as selfie-obsessed as China, a smartphone without cameras would be an extremely hard sell, even one with an innovative double bend.
Domestic smartphone makers such as Oppo and Vivo built their popularity around selfie capabilities. The camera app Meitu was also built around the popularity of selfies and now has around 455 million monthly active users. China’s multibillion dollar live streaming industry also owes much to selfie cameras.
The lack of a front-facing camera probably means that Xiaomi's folding smartphone remains a work in progress, but at least we know it’ll be good for covering a cup of noodles.