Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite gradient back is actually a transparent glass panel with nano-coated paint

Although the Mi 8 Lite's rear glass looks transparent as is, properties of diffraction and absorption of light give it the gradient hue when placed against dark surfaces.

“Using the property of diffraction and absorption of light, the glass ends up reflecting the requisite shades of turquoise, blue and purple when placed against a dark surface.”

Gradient paint schemes seem to be the latest aesthetic trend in the world of smartphones. Huawei caught the eyeballs with its ‘Twilight’ finish on the P20 Pro (review), where the back panel had a special shimmer coat, and colours that shifted from turquoise to blue to purple, vertically. Xiaomi, too, has joined the party, with the gradient-finished back panel of the Mi 8 Lite. Now, the company has revealed a video saying that the back panel is actually a transparent piece of glass, which takes the shade of the Mi 8 Lite’s particular gradients when placed on a particular surface.

This is a rather interesting application of the principles of optometry, and as such, a rather complex piece of paintwork. For instance, in the ‘Dream Blue’ variant, the rear panel actually appears to be just a piece of transparent glass when seen in isolation (you can do so by removing the rear panel of your Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite, although doing so is certainly not advisable). However, and as Xiaomi has shown in a video shared by Chinese website Miaopai, the panel takes the turquoise-purple gradient colour when seen against a dark surface.

Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite - in text

The reason for this happening lies in the principles of optics. As Xiaomi has revealed, the Mi 8 Lite’s rear glass panel has a number of nano-coats of paint. In its final form, the Mi 8 Lite’s glass panel actually has very minute levels of difference in the levels of these paints. These difference are in the scale of nanometers, are absolutely not visible to the naked human eye and cannot be felt by hand either. There are no rough aberrations on the glass surface, since the difference in the levels of paints is so minute. These paints, using the property of diffraction and absorption of light in the visible spectrum, end up reflecting the requisite shades of turquoise, blue and purple, when placed against a dark surface. The paint is also finished with such exquisite finesse that the rear glass panel looks like an opaque block, when fitted on the phone.

This is quite a tedious and impressive procedure, just to get a specific paintwork done on the back of smartphones. That said, factors like these are gradually leading to buying decisions for customers, since the differences between smartphones are becoming smaller every passing day. While the story of the painted yet transparent glass back is just trivia, it is interesting to note how much effort companies are putting in behind little aspects of these devices.

Xiaomi Mi 8 Youth (Mi 8 Lite) Specifications
Octa core (2.2 GHz, Quad Core + 1.8 GHz, Quad core)
Snapdragon 660
6.26 inches (15.9 cm)
1080x2280 px, 403 PPI
12 MP + 5 MP Dual Primary Cameras
LED Flash
24 MP Front Camera
3350 mAh
Quick Charging 3.0
USB Type-C port
Xiaomi Mi 8 Youth (Mi 8 Lite) Price, Launch Date
Expected Price: Rs. 14,890
Release Date: 31-Oct-2019 (Expected)
Variant: 4 GB RAM / 64 GB internal storage
Phone Status: Upcoming Phone
Xiaomi Mi 8 Youth (Mi 8 Lite) Video
A lover of anything that has a circuit and involves physics, Shouvik is passionate about technology, science and journalism in equal parts. When not at work, he prefers reading up on ancient history, sports and engineering, going on random photography expeditions, and occasionally a long solo drive. He's also neck-deep into science fiction, and is working on a debut novel that he hopes will one day be read by Steven Erikson.
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