Xiaomi is no stranger to bold smartphone designs. The latest idea from the Beijing-based company is to give people earphones that pop out the top of a smartphone when needed, a newly surfaced patent shows. For some, the idea might conjure up images of Samsung’s Galaxy Note series of phones. Introduced with the Galaxy Note 3 phablet in 2013, the Note phones hide a stylus that slides out from the bottom. Xiaomi’s idea for the earphones appears to use two holes on the top of the phone. The earphones use rotatable heads that swivel up to allow them to slide straight down into the phone. The idea for the phone is laid out in two separate patents – one for the smartphone and one for the earphones. The patents were registered with the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) in January, but they were recently uncovered by Dutch media outlet Letsgodigital . Pop-up earphones is only the latest off-the-wall idea from Xiaomi in recent years. Last November, Xiaomi unveiled a smartphone with a foldable display and a massive pop-up module with five cameras on it. Another foldable phone design the company teased with a prototype in January 2019 has two hinges, allowing the phone to bend in from each side. With a foldable phone design people might be more familiar with now, Xiaomi has also patented a smartphone that resembles a traditional flip phone , similar to Motorola’s new Razr. And let us not forget the US$2,800 Mi Mix Alpha concept phone. The phone’s unique design includes a curved display that wraps around to the back, nearly covering the entire body. Although a limited stock of the phones was expected to go on sale last December, Xiaomi later confirmed to Abacus that the Mi Mix Alpha will not be made commercially available to the general public. As is the case with many patents, the pop-up earphones might not appear in a commercial product any time soon. But the design does raise some interesting questions about where smartphone innovation is headed. Wireless earphones like Apple’s AirPods have become more common as smartphone makers increasingly remove the 3.5mm audio jack used for wired headphones. Inserting those wireless earphones into a smartphone could be a clever way of finally getting rid of standalone charging pods. But this means taking up space inside the phone, possibly leading to other compromises like bulkier handsets. Which brings up the most interesting question of all: if Xiaomi can find space inside the phone to store wireless earphones, will they find space for the 3.5mm audio jack?