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Xiaomi's new telescopic lens could make it the smartphone camera king

The lens promises brighter, clearer shots, and a nifty party trick to boot.

Published onNovember 5, 2020

  • Xiaomi has launched a new large-aperture telescopic lens for smartphones.
  • The lens can physically zoom in and out of the smartphone’s body, much like a point-and-shoot camera.
  • The large aperture also reportedly improves light exposure by 300% and clarity by 20%.

Cameras on Xiaomi phones could receive a massive boost in quality and versatility. The company today unveiled a new telescopic camera lens with a large aperture.

According to tipster Digital Chat Station and a Weibo post by Xiaomi, the lens features “a super-large aperture, which increases the light input by 300%” as well as new image stabilization technology. Clarity is also said to be improved by 20% thanks to the lens’s large aperture and image stabilization tech. Xiaomi hasn’t yet detailed the ƒ number of the lens in question, so we’re not sure just how large the aperture really is. But it’s the lens’s other party trick that’s the most exciting element of its design.

In a video by Xiaomi uploaded to Weibo, the phone’s real party trick is showcased. The lens juts out from the phone body like point-and-shoot zoom cameras of old. This allows it to physically move in and out, much like the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom. Xiaomi didn’t specify a zoom range or whether this offers the ability to physical zoom in on subjects in the first place.

Most modern smartphones feature fixed telephoto lenses that cannot physically adjust their zoom length. Xiaomi’s lens potentially mitigates this issue and could allow more options for users. It may also allow Xiaomi to get away with just one camera on its future smartphones, as the zoom lens could theoretically act as a telephoto and primary shooter.

Pair this lens with a large aperture, sizeable sensor, savvy software, and physical zoom, and you have a pretty mean pocket camera.

Read more: Understanding aperture: What is it and how does it affect image quality?

It’s unclear when Xiaomi’s telescopic camera system will make its debut on a consumer-ready smartphone, or which smartphone that’ll likely be. Still, if Xiaomi can nail this technology and include zoom capabilities, we could be looking at a the smartphone zoom king of the future.