Published On: Wed, Nov 6th, 2019

Xiaomi Smartphone Has 108 Megapixel Camera

Chinese tech giant Xiaomi has unveiled the world’s first mainstream handset to feature a 108 megapixel camera.

Xiaomi Smartphone 108 megapixel

The extra high-resolution sensor was developed by Samsung, which has yet to feature it in its own products.

The firms say the benefit is that it delivers “extremely sharp photographs that are rich in detail”.

However, one early test of the tech indicates that its images contain more digital distortions than those produced by lower-resolution smartphones.

For now, the Mi CC9 Pro Premium has only been announced for the Chinese market, where the base model costs 2,799 yuan ($400; £310).

But Xiaomi has said it will use the same component in the Mi Note 10, which will be launched on Wednesday and sold more widely.

The firm is currently the world’s fourth-bestselling smartphone vendor, according to research firm Canalys, with a market share of 9.1%.

Its sales are rapidly growing in Europe and it has just announced its intention to expand into Japan in 2020.

Merged pixels

Until now, 100MP+ sensors have typically been the preserve of medium-format digital cameras, which can cost tens of thousands of pounds.

Trying to squeeze lots of resolution into a smaller smartphone component runs the risk of increasing cross-talk, a phenomenon where the electrical activity of one pixel spills into its neighbours, as they are packed so closely together. This results in digital noise in the final image.

In addition, since each pixel needs to be smaller than normal to fit into the same space, each receives less light, causing further problems in low-light conditions.

Samsung’s Isocell Plus sensor partly addresses these problems by being larger in size than most smartphone sensors.

But its key innovation is that its pixels are arranged in groups of four, with each set sharing the same colour filter to detect red, green or blue light.

By default, data from each group is merged together to mimic the behaviour of a larger pixel. This results in a 27 megapixel photo.

But if there is enough light, the user can override the function to obtain a 108MP image. This is obtained via a software algorithm that remaps the pixels to simulate what would have been recorded, had they been arranged in the normal pattern.

“Mobile phone manufacturers will go to almost any length to turn people’s heads, and this enormous megapixel camera is one way of grabbing attention,” commented Ben Wood from the CCS Insight consultancy.