Xiaomi is working on two flagship Snapdragon 855 smartphones with pop-up cameras, both likely coming to India
Smartphones with mechanical pop-up cameras are making a return in 2019, at least among Chinese brands. Vivo and OPPO launched new smartphones with pop-up cameras, the Vivo V15 Pro and OPPO Reno, earlier this year. It seems almost certain that OnePlus will launch its own smartphone with a pop-up camera. Then there’s Xiaomi, a company which has already experimented with a slider camera mechanism in the Mi Mix 3, but which has yet to launch its own pop-up camera smartphone.
In February 2019, Wang Teng Thomas, Product Director at Xiaomi, suggested the company was open to making a phone with this design, but that its release depends on consumer demand. Since then, multiple photos allegedly showing off a Redmi flagship with a pop-up camera have appeared on Chinese microblogging site Weibo, though Redmi General Manager Lu Weibing denied the brand’s flagship will feature this design. Leaks from Weibo don’t carry much weight in our view because the original posters are unknown or don’t have a good track record, and because there’s a lot of good-looking fakes being shared on the platform. Regardless of the authenticity of these photos, we know that Xiaomi is working on smartphones with pop-up cameras. Yes, smartphones.
For the past 5 months, we have tracked the development of two new Xiaomi smartphones, code-named “davinci” and “raphael.” Last month, I posted my thoughts on Twitter about the possibility that Xiaomi was exploring a pop-up camera design for the device code-named “davinci.” At the time, we had spotted evidence that Xiaomi was performing hardware tests for a pop-up camera on “davinci,” however there was enough ambiguity in the firmware that I decided not to publish the story. Over the past month, however, Xiaomi has substantially accelerated its development of pop-up camera hardware support, ending any doubt I once had that Xiaomi is preparing a smartphone with this design. In addition, Xiaomi has added another smartphone to their pop-up camera testing, code-named “raphael.” Here’s everything we know about the two Xiaomi smartphones code-named “raphael” and “davinci.”
Xiaomi “Raphael” and “Davinci”
Currently, “raphael” and “davinci” are the only two smartphones that we know of that are being tested with pop-up camera hardware. Judging by the code, it’s likely that the camera will pop-up mechanically, as there are mentions of the front camera automatically appearing and retracting. We don’t know any details of the front camera or rear camera sensors, though we do know both “raphael” and “davinci” are flagship Xiaomi smartphones. Both devices are powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 mobile platform and have under-display fingerprint scanners (most likely optical). Lastly, Xiaomi has started developing separate MIUI software releases for the Indian market, code-named “raphaelin” and “davinciin.” Thus, we believe both devices will launch in the Indian market.
We can’t comment on any of the other specifications because they’re either unknown to us or we simply don’t have enough information. It would be reasonable to speculate that both devices will have hardware comparable to the Xiaomi Mi 9, but it’s possible that one of these devices will be slightly inferior to the Mi 9 while the other will be slightly superior to it. We don’t know if these devices will end up being the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3s, Xiaomi Mi Mix 4, POCO F2, Xiaomi Mi 9 Pro, or any other Xiaomi-branded flagship with the Snapdragon 855. The upcoming Redmi Snapdragon 855 flagship supposedly doesn’t have a pop-up camera, so at least we can rule that out. If we learn more about “davinci,” “raphael,” or new Xiaomi smartphones with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, we’ll let you know.