New Xiaomi smartphone will have a 5X zoom telephoto camera and up to 50X digital zoom
Smartphones have replaced dedicated cameras for most people, and while there’s still a lot of room for improvements, device makers have recently made big leaps in smartphone camera hardware and software. The Huawei P30 Pro was widely praised for raising the bar when it comes to zoom and low-light photography, but it’s not the only device on the market with impressive zoom capability. Even if it falls short in other areas, the OPPO Reno 10X Zoom is so far the only real contender against the P30 Pro in terms of zoom. That could change soon, though, as we’ve found evidence that Xiaomi is making a new smartphone with a 5X zoom telephoto camera that also supports up to 50X digital zoom.
Late last month, Xiaomi announced version 11 of its custom Android software, MIUI. In the days and weeks since, the company has rolled out multiple beta updates for dozens of smartphones. We previously analyzed the MIUI Camera app in MIUI 11 and discovered that Xiaomi is preparing a smartphone that can record at 8K resolution at 30fps, suggesting this phone will launch with the next flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC. In more recent versions of the MIUI Camera app, however, we’ve uncovered code that reveals a new camera zoom mode: “Tele 5X.” This likely means Xiaomi will advertise one of their future smartphones as having 5X optical or “lossless” zoom. In addition, we’ve also found a new “ultra tele” feature with the description that says “use 50X zoom to capture distant objects in greater detail.” Here is the “hint” icon associated with this new “ultra tele” feature:
Unfortunately, that’s about all we know right now. We don’t know if the future phone with the 5X telephoto camera is the same phone that will support recordings 8K@30fps videos. We also don’t know any details about the main camera sensor on this upcoming smartphone, so we don’t know, for example, if it’ll be the 108MP Samsung sensor that debuted on the Mi Mix Alpha and we’re expecting to appear on at least 3 more devices. The level of detail produced by such a sensor is impressive, allowing for details to be preserved even at 8X digital zoom.
We’re also missing details on the most important part of the puzzle: how Xiaomi will achieve the zoom capability on this device. Will it use a periscopic lens module like the Huawei P30 Pro and OPPO Reno 10X Zoom? What will the physical and equivalent focal lengths be, and how big will the sensor be? Marketing aside, there’s a lot of questions that can only be answered once we get closer to the phone’s launch, but if you’re interested in learning more about how zoom works in smartphones, I recommend reading this article by former PocketNow Editor Juan Carlos Bagnell or Idrees Patel’s review of the OPPO Reno 10X Zoom.
Thanks to XDA Member kacskrz for the tip, and to PNF Software for providing us a license to use JEB Decompiler, a professional-grade reverse engineering tool for Android applications.