Phone manufacturers are constantly on the lookout for new technology and features, and when it’s new teasers are legit, Xiaomi may have a real advantage over the competition with what appears to be one liquid camera lens designed for an upcoming Mi Mix phone.
Based on a handful of images and a clamp Shared on Weibo, Xiaomi is attempting to replace the traditional glass elements and focusing motors used in current smartphone camera lenses with a liquid lens that can be controlled and adjusted by applying an electrical charge. This could change the lens form to focus on subjects from different distances, with Xiaomi claiming that the technology will result in longer zoom lenses and faster autofocus than traditional smartphone camera lenses.
While the idea of a liquid lens may seem a bit strange or distant, the principle is actually quite similar to the way the human eye works. LiGHT enters the eye through your cornea, passes through the iris, and is then focused by the crystalline layer of your eye and the watery fluid before finally hitting your retina.
Currently, due to their cost and complexity, liquid lenses are typically reserved for specialized industrial applications where traditional glass lenses can be too brittle or delicate. However, this isn’t the first time a smartphone company has teased the idea of a liquid camera lens Huawei has patented its own liquid lens last year.
The big advantage of a liquid lens is that smartphone companies can use the same lens for a range of focal lengths, while still being thin enough to fit in a phone. This one is in stark contrast to today’s phones, which use multiple image sensors each with their own proprietary lens to support one the primary, ultra-wide, macro, and telephoto cameras of the device.
The current approach is a kind of brute force method made possible by the fact that adding additional image sensors to a device is relatively inexpensive, leading some companies to make devices with a large number of lenses on their back (see the Nokia 9 PureView and Light L16
Xiaomi’s liquid lens may not be quite ready for the consumer devices yet, but demonstrating its liquid lens on a new Mi Mix concept makes sense, because Xiaomi has used the Mi Mix line in the past to test out new designs or technology that the company is investigating. Other concepts the company has tried include the Mi Mix Alpha from 2019 with its cover-around screen and the portless Mi Mix concept from earlier this year.
While not much else is known about the upcoming Mi Mix, Xiaomi says it will unveil the device on March 29, so we won’t wait a long time to find out more.