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Xiaomi may employ a wacky movable camera array to improve wide-angle shots

Pivoting cameras could be used to capture more detailed scenery in your sunset shots.

Published onAugust 24, 2020

Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro 108MP macro
  • Mock-ups based on Xiaomi patents shed light on a novel camera solution.
  • The dual-camera array would be able to swivel on an axis, capturing more detailed wide-angle shots.

Xiaomi is working on a novel movable camera system for future smartphones, according to mock-ups created by LetsGoDigital based on patents.

The solution documented in the patents concerns a dual-camera array. Both cameras are bolted onto a movable plate that can change the cameras’ viewing angles. In one use case, the cameras can pivot to widen their field of view. The two shots can then be stitched together creating a wider-angle image.

LetsGoDigital‘s renders showcase the two cameras alongside one another, but Xiaomi could also employ such a system with two cameras arranged vertically.

It’s not clear what problem Xiaomi is trying to fix with these patents. While it would allow Xiaomi’s smartphones to create more detailed and accurate wide-angle shots, it does seem to be a case of over-engineering.

The patented system doesn’t seem to have a goal of reducing the number of sensors on a smartphone. Conventional smartphones are able to take ultra-wide shots with one camera, while this system requires two identical cameras to capture wide-angle scenes. Xiaomi would still need to fit a dedicated zoom and macro shooter on the device if they wanted those shots as well.

Adding moving parts to a smartphone also adds to the fragility of the device, as we’ve seen with the previous generation of foldable phones. Dropping the device could also cause the camera array to experience alignment problems.

That said, take these renders with a pinch of salt. Xiaomi does tend to patent several wacky concepts including this bonkers detachable display smartphone, and a phone that doubles as a holder for wireless earbuds, too. Very rarely do these designs make it to the big stage, though.

Next: The best Android camera phones you can get