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Redmi general manager talks faster charging speeds, small phones, and more

Xiaomi executive Lu Weibing acknowledged consumer demand for small phones, but one hurdle needs to be resolved.

Published onDecember 10, 2020

Redmi 9 device photo 12
Gary Sims / Android Authority
  • Redmi general manager Lu Weibing has acknowledged demand for small phones.
  • The executive said battery tech needs to advance to deliver the same battery size in a smaller form factor.
  • Weibing also addressed the future of fast charging and LCD-based in-display fingerprint sensors.

Xiaomi has delivered a variety of competitive devices in 2020, but one product missing from its portfolio is a smaller device. Redmi general manager Lu Weibing previously noted that the firm wants to build a small phone but that battery capacity will be sacrificed.

Now, Weibing has expanded on this in an emailed Q&A with Android Authority, acknowledging that there’s a demand from consumers for smaller devices.

“Battery life has always been one of our key priorities in designing Redmi smartphones. While smartphone sizes have been increasing over the years, there is still demand for more compact phones,” Weibing explained. “Developing a battery with the same mAh capacity but in a smaller physical size requires a tremendous breakthrough in battery technology.”

In other words, it sounds like Xiaomi thinks that simply going thicker might not be the best solution. For what it’s worth, the brand previously launched the Redmi 4X back in 2017, delivering a 5-inch phone with a 4,100mAh battery. But this might be a bigger challenge in today’s smartphone world, with 5G components and multiple cameras taking up internal space, while 5G and high refresh rate screens require larger batteries too.

Faster charging and more

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra fast wireless charging screen
Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority

A bigger battery generally requires faster charging speeds to keep charging times down, and we’ve seen Xiaomi launch 120W charging in 2020. But is there a limit to charging speeds?

“The upper limit to charging speeds would highly depend on the advancement in battery technology,” the Redmi general manager told us, while pointing to battery degradation over time as one of the biggest challenges in this regard. The Xiaomi executive also suggests that we’ll see more improvements in the budget space.

“With the recent advancements, fast charging technology will likely soon make its way to smartphones priced within RMB 2,000 (~$305).”

Next: Is Xiaomi the new HUAWEI?

There’s no word on the kind of charging speeds Xiaomi is expecting for sub-$300 phones in 2021. However, the company has already revealed several budget devices with 30W or higher speeds in 2020, such as the Redmi Note 9 Pro series. So it stands to reason that the tech could be more widespread or even faster next year.

Ultra-fast charging isn’t the only technology Weibing has touted in 2020, as he also demonstrated in-display fingerprint sensors using LCD screens earlier this year. Unfortunately, it sounds like the tech is too expensive to implement right now.

“We work relentlessly to try to predict and act on future trends by using next-generation technologies in our products, but the most notable challenge in featuring in-display fingerprint scanners on LCD screens right now is the cost,” he explained. He added that Xiaomi is focusing on side fingerprint scanners on phones with LCD screens.

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