Touchscreen lovers and touchscreen haters rejoice: We don’t have to be at each other’s throats anymore. The soon-to-go-on-sale, Chinese-market Xiaomi SU7 can go both ways. If you’re unsatisfied with a purely touch-only interface, Xiaomi will happily sell you a user-installed row of hard keys and switches for the SU7.

XIaomi SU7 Screen Docking

The Xiaomi SU7 is such a hard car to read. On some level, its exterior styling appears a little too inspired by the Porsche Taycan. Yet, the vehicle’s mechanicals and interior are a little more innovative than at first glance. The vehicle’s interior is modular and integrated into a person’s digital life in ways we haven’t seen before in a vehicle. Xiaomi-branded phones and devices can seamlessly integrate with the car like what we’ve come to understand with CarPlay, but Xiaomi takes it further with add-on hardware features that increase comfort or add functionality.

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Touchscreens can be dangerous

Despite their prevalence in modern automobiles, touchscreens have been looked upon with concern by safety advocates and average drivers alike. In theory, Xiaomi's optional docking button tray should put drivers who feel unsafe or uncomfortable with a touchscreen-only interface at ease. 

As stated by Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun during his initial presentation for the SU7, the center screen is modular. It will come standard with no attachments, but the screen has magnetic (and physically pin-locked) attachment points on four sides. Initially, Xiaomi is showing off a set of piano keys and a volume knob called a docking unit. It mounts right at the bottom edge of the screen. Jun’s presentation implied that there could be other add-ons available for the SU7 in the future.


Xiaomi Interior 3


This sounds like the best of both worlds for so many drivers. For many Chinese EV drivers, physical hard buttons are often associated with old-school cars, thus the prevalence of huge touchscreens in that market. However, there are plenty of reasons to hate a touchscreen-only interface. Xiaomi’s solution looks like it’ll give drivers a choice in the matter without compromising interior design. The row of buttons clips in like a 2000s-era car CD player faceplate.

Xiaomi Interior 5

Xiaomi’s docking unit is a dead simple solution to the buttons versus no buttons debate. Of course, there have been aftermarket solutions to some touchscreen-only interfaces (like the Ctrl+bar), but a manufacturer-supported solution is generally preferable. I hope other manufacturers decide to follow Xiaomi’s lead here and offer more physical customization options to vehicle interfaces. 

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