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Xiaomi shows off Retractable Lens for smartphones; here’s what it will mean

Xiaomi has showcased a new retractable wide-aperture lens technology for future smartphones, which could greatly improve portrait and low-light performance on devices.

By: Tech Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: November 9, 2020 5:13:49 pm
Xiaomi, Xiaomi retractable lens, Xiaomi smartphone lens, Xiaomi MIDC, Mi Developer conference, Mi camera, Mi 10Xiaomi showed off a retractable lens for smartphone cameras at its Mi Developer conference. (Image of Mi Logos via Bloomberg)

Xiaomi has showcased a new retractable wide-aperture lens technology for future smartphones, which could greatly improve portrait and low-light performance on devices. The lens was showcased at Xiaomi’s annual Mi Developer Conference 2020, which took place in Beijing.

What does this Retractable Lens mean from Xiaomi? 

If such a lens were added to a future Xiaomi smartphone, it could extend out depending on the kind of photo being taken. So say when a user is zooming into an object, this lens would extend out. This would be similar to how lenses work on traditional point-and-shoot cameras. Xiaomi claims this lens can extend out of the smartphone when needed and will increase the amount of light input by 300 per cent.

The retractable lens could improve portrait shots and night photos on smartphones compared to the existing ones, according to the company. Xiaomi also revealed the lens will rely on a new form of image stabilization technology to ensure that images taken with it are more stable. It will also increase sharpness by 20 percent on such photos.

“Xiaomi will continue to integrate these professional imaging technologies into smartphone photography, bringing professional photography to hundreds of millions of smartphone users around the world, and adding on to Xiaomi’s portfolio of imaging technology breakthroughs,” the company said in a statement announcing the product.

Keep in mind the product is unlikely to make its way to any future Xiaomi phone for sometime, given it has just been announced.

Haven’t some phones offered retractable lenses?

Smartphones with such lenses are not common, though there have been some notable products in the past. Samsung offered a Zoom lens which would extend out on the Galaxy S4’s optical zoom option. Motorola had also offered something similar in the form of a Mod or an extension to its Moto Z series. The Moto Z had a Hasselblad True Zoom Mod with 10x optical zoom.

Xiaomi’s product if it actually launches could be different in that it offer a wider aperture, along with improved low-light and portrait performance, which is still an issue on smartphones. In terms of low-light performance, smartphones are still far behind traditional DSLRs, despite the various improvements we have seen in recent times.

What other camera technology is Xiaomi working on?

Earlier this year, Xiaomi showcased a video of its third-generation under-display camera technology. The company also confirmed this would go into mass production next year. The under-screen camera will help improve the full-screen effect, and with the third-generation, Xiaomi claims to have improved camera performance as well, which will be crucial in such kind of arrangements.

The company’s claim is that the pixel arrangement technology ensures that the under-display camera performs as well as conventional cameras without losing on any colours or details, while at the same time the display will keep looking even with no colour fades around the area of the camera.

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