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Xiaomi’s first foldable phone has a shape-shifting ‘liquid lens’ camera

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It turns out that the Mi 11 Ultra isn’t the only weird phone coming out of Xiaomi this week. In the second part of its two-day keynote, the Chinese company unveiled its first foldable phone, the Mi Mix Fold, which follows the same inward-folding, dual-screen form factor as Huawei’s Mate X2 and Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 2. However, the “liquid lens” on one of its rear cameras makes this device stand out. The Mi Mix Fold packs an 8.01-inch 2,480 x 1,860 (4:3) foldable panel, supporting Dolby Vision, HDR10+, and a maximum brightness of 600 nits. Xiaomi said it picked this particular size and resolution. The combination offers the highest screen-to-body ratio for regular videos — 75 percent for a 16:9 video versus 70 percent on the Samsung and 63 percent on the Huawei. The company also claimed that this flexible screen had been tested to last for at least 1 million folds, whereas the precision hinge is suitable for at least 200,000 bends.

When folded, the Mi Mix Fold offers a smaller 6.52-inch 2,520 x 840 AMOLED screen, supporting Dolby Vision and featuring a higher 700-nit brightness. A camera island similar to the ones on the Mi 10 Ultra and Mi 10S, but rather than having four cameras, this foldable uses just three shooters — a 108MP primary camera (using Samsung’s ISOCELL HM2 sensor), a 13MP ultra-wide camera (123-degree FOV) and an 8MP “bionic” camera — to offer four photography modes.


You’ll also find a 20-megapixel punch-hole selfie camera at the top right corner. This is achieved by the “bionic” camera’s liquid lens, which uses a motor to precisely manipulate a packet of fluid to switch between telephoto mode (3x optical zoom or 30x hybrid zoom) and macro mode (down to 3cm). Xiaomi added that this fluid works fine in temperatures ranging from -40°C to 60°C (or 104°F to 140°F). Of course, the image quality of this camera remains to be seen, so hopefully, we’ll get to play with a Mi Mix Fold soon. To help boost image quality across all the cameras, Xiaomi also developed its image signal processor, the Surge C1, which delivers faster autofocus, auto white balance, and auto exposure. This is the company’s second in-house chip, a long wait since the Surge S1 mobile processor featured on the Mi 5c in 2017.

At its core, the Mi Mix Fold has almost all the ticks for a modern-day flagship, with one or two bonuses thrown into the basket. You get a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G processor, up to 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage. There’s also a generous 5,020mAh battery with 67W turbocharging support, with both being the highest figures in the current foldable market. To get the most out of the big flexible screen, this phone comes with not two but four speakers, and Harman Kardon tunes these. Xiaomi also boasted a “butterfly-type” cooling system which, in addition to a vapor cooling chamber, thermal paste, and graphite sheets, consists of a “micro airbag” structure that boosts heat dissipation across the entire device.

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