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China’s Xiaomi is planning to launch a smartphone with a 108-megapixel camera.
According to the company’s announcement on Weibo (via Android Authority), Xiaomi is working with Samsung to deliver the camera, which will take 12,032×9,024 pixel snaps. There’s no firm timeline for the launch; Xiaomi’s promo material merely says “see you later.”
This probably sounds like an unusually big leap, given that smartphone cameras of today only go up to 48 megapixels — and it is. Xiaomi will first launch a phone with a 64-megapixel camera, for which it has a far more solid timeline: The first phone with the 64-megapixel camera will debut in India in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Xiaomi will be using Samsung’s GW-1 sensor for that phone, and we already know the specs of that one. It takes 9,280×6,944 pixel photos with a 0.8 micron pixel size, and will typically use a technique called pixel binning to create great-looking 16-megapixel photos.
Mi Fans, it really excites me when we push the limits of what’s technologically possible!
— #MiFan Manu Kumar Jain (@manukumarjain) August 7, 2019
Given my experience with ultra-high-res smartphone cameras, most notably the Huawei P30 Pro‘s 40-megapixel camera, these huge resolutions aren’t overkill. On the P30 Pro, you take 10-megapixel pixel-binned photos by default, which allows for a spectacular low-light performance. And if you really need the full 40-megapixel resolution, you can turn it on in the camera’s settings, though these photos won’t look very good in anything less than perfect light conditions.
Samsung’s GW-1 chip should further improve on this concept with Tetracell technology, which should produce brighter 16-megapixel photos in low light, and more detailed 64-megapixel photos in daylight, while its 3D HDR tech should improve the quality of photos and videos even in bad lighting conditions.
Xiaomi offered no details about its upcoming 108-megapixel sensor, but it will likely use pixel binning to produce far more manageable 27-megapixel photos. In any case, it seems that the phone megapixel wars are far from over.