Xiaomi has announced Mi MIX 4, its first smartphone with an under-display front camera. It’s not the first-ever, but it’s one of few phones that have it so far. It’s still a relatively new technology, so it’s definitely worth taking a look at.
Xiaomi has teased their upcoming Mi MIX smartphone with a camera that contains a world’s first. It’s going to have a liquid lens that adjusts its focal length and focus distance through the use of an electrical charge. This isn’t the first liquid lens to exist, and they’re common for some industrial uses, but it’s the first time one will be getting put into a production smartphone.
Other than the lens, there aren’t really many details about the new device yet or even just its camera – although no paternership deals with Zeiss, Leica or Hasselblad have been announced. Oh wait, they did get into bed with Light a couple of years ago. And Xiaomi did put out a survey last year to see if they should team up with a big name camera manufacturer (and which one). So… maybe?
It’s been a long time coming, and they’ve been common in compact cameras since the days of 35mm film, but it looks like retractable lenses might finally start popping up in our smartphones. During yesterday’s Xiaomi Developer Conference in Beijing, they showed off a new lens tech that could potentially help smartphone photography take a giant leap. And soon, too!
GSMArena reports that Xiaomi has said the tech is ready to go, right now for implementation in real products. They say that it can collect 300% more light than traditional lenses – which means we might finally start to see phone images higher than ISO50 with drastically reduced levels of noise.
It’s been an interesting journey for Light, the company that brought us that crazy 16-lens camera five years ago. It garnered a lot of hype when it was first announced, and once word got out that the company had secured $30mil in funding and the Light L16 camera was going to see a big storage increase, a lot of people got excited. It wasn’t until 2017 that they actually started shipping, but the reception was somewhat cold.
In 2018, it seemed Light was teaming up with a company (which turned out to be Nokia) to make smartphones, and in 2019 they announced partnerships with both Xiaomi and Sony. Now, Light has announced they are “no longer operating in the smartphone industry”. Exactly what this means for Light’s future is unclear.
The competition is fierce among smartphone brands. The camera and camera features are now a critical aspect in phone marketing. More megapixels, more cameras, and better software are key features when it comes to market strategies.
R&D is expensive so establishing partnerships with other manufacturers makes sense twice: Firstly, it saves on development resources. Secondly, it validates the brand and puts a prestigious halo around it. Just look at the last crop of partnerships: Huawei & Leica, Motorola & Hasselblad and Nokia & Zeiss. (I could possibly say Sony & Sony, but that would just be funny). Now Xiaomi wants in on the camera “old money” and seeking out a partnership.
Xiaomi recently teased a new smartphone containing Samsung’s new 108-megapixel sensor, the Xiomi Mi Mix Alpha, although this phone won’t be going into mass production, and it’s not quite ready for release yet anyway. But now they’ve gone and announced the CC9 Pro, which also features the 108-megapixel sensor and is now already for sale in China.
We’re only just starting to see 8K cinema cameras come down to more reasonable prices, and they’re still way beyond the needs of 99% of video shooters out there. But don’t let that deter you. According to the team at XDA Developers who’ve been looking at the source code for Xiaomi’s latest MIUI 11 source code, Xiaomi’s working on getting 8K into a smartphone.
First announced in May, Samsung’s 64-megapixel ISOCELL Bright GW1 sensor sounded pretty impressive. In July, Xiaomi teased a new camera that would feature this pretty insane sensor, as did Indian smartphone company, Realme.
It looks like Xiaomi has beaten them to the finish line, though. They have now announced the Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro, the world’s first smartphone with a 64-megapixel camera.
Teased by Xiaomi just a few days ago for their upcoming Mi Mix 4 smartphone, Samsung has now officially announced its new 108-megapixel ISOCELL sensor. This marks the first smartphone sensor to go beyond 100-megapixels, replacing Samsung’s 64-megapixel sensor announced in May, as their highest resolution smartphone sensor.