Xiaomi revolutionized wireless charging last month, and now it looks like it might be poised to do the same thing to smartphone photography. The company has developed new camera technology, including a retractable wide-aperture lens that can increase the amount of light input by up to 300% for clearer, sharper photos — and much like traditional point-and-shoot cameras, the lens retracts into the phone body when not in use.

Zeng Xuezhong, Xiaomi’s Vice President, announced the innovation at the MIDC 2020 Xiaomi Developers Conference. In addition to the increased light intake from the large aperture, Xiaomi has also developed new anti-shake technology that makes pictures more stable. Photos taken with it supposedly can see a 20% increase in definition and clarity along with better performance in portrait photography and night photography compared to the kinds of camera structures currently in use.

Xiaomi also showed off a new 2-in-1 telephoto/macro lens that works in the 50mm-125mm range to help achieve a “professional-level photography experience.” It allows users to get close to a subject and adjust focus in order to capture a perfect shot.

While this isn’t the first phone camera to incorporate a lens that can physically move in and out, Xiaomi’s new technology sounds like it could significantly improve the company’s camera quality in the future. It’s not yet clear how close the new lenses are to being released on a product meant for consumers, but when they do debut on a new phone, it’ll be interesting to see just how they compare to traditional smartphone cameras currently on the market.


This has been updated to clarify that Xiaomi’s telescoping camera is not a zoom lens, along with new details and official videos.