In May, Xiaomi wowed the internet with its upcoming “transparent” Mi 8 Explorer Edition smartphone that the company claimed showed off the internal components of the phone in a stylish manner, unlike any transparent or translucent gadget before. There was just one problem: there were reports that the exposed circuitboard wasn’t actually real.
Turns out, those reports may have been spot on. Chengming Alpert — the Twitter user who first cast doubt on Xiaomi’s claims — posted leaked pictures of the alleged internal parts, which appear to be little more than a cosmetic plate to cover the actual (and likely less-photogenic) internal components.
Assuming the leaked parts are real, it would seem that Xiaomi is definitely working hard to create the optical illusion with actual 3D components to give it a sense of depth and realism. But the circuit board shown in the leaked pictures looks to be cosmetic.
When the story first broke, Xiaomi commented to The Verge, “The transparent back on Mi 8 Explorer Edition is indeed made of transparent glass, and there isn’t a sticker with a picture on it. The parts that you see on the back upper half, for example, are parts of the actual mainboard.” It seems like that’s technically still true. The phone is, in fact, transparent, and you can see inside to the parts, which may even be stylized re-creations of the actual components. But based on the pictures, it’s more likely that the visible circuitry is cosmetic, not the actual hardware of the phone.
Removing the plate from Xiaomi’s press pictures makes it clear that the Mi 8 Explorer Edition’s transparent looks are a little more deceptive than the company would have you think.