The Xiaomi Mi 11 might signal the end of an era for Xiaomi. It might be the first of the company's flagship phones for a while to miss out on a top spec 108MP camera.
This news comes from esteemed leaker Digital Chat Station, posting on Chinese social media platform Weibo, about a test version of an unnamed phone they've managed to get. Judging by comments on the post, including those from the leaker, it seems this is likely the anticipated Xiaomi Mi 11 Pro.
According to Digital Chat Station, the main camera of this phone is likely 50MP but it would be using a technique called pixel binning to create better photos than that spec initially suggests.
If that's true, on paper it would look like the Mi 11's camera spec would be a fair sight below the 108MP snapper we saw in Xiaomi's Mi Note 10, Mi 10, Mi 10 Pro and Mi 10T Pro. If this 'Pro' version of the Mi 11 won't have a 108MP snapper, it's highly unlikely the non-Pro make would.
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If true, perhaps Xiaomi has clued into the fact that more megapixels don't always equal better pictures, though its previous 108MP camera phones were all pretty good at taking photos in their own way.
Xiaomi was the one phone maker really embracing these high spec main cameras, and if the company ends up abandoning them it may signal that people aren't interested in them that much.
It's also worth pointing out Digital Chat Station thinks the Mi 11 takes 12MP telephoto pictures, though isn't sure if this is the result of a 12MP sensor, or a 48MP sensor, which is using pixel binning.
Xiaomi Mi 11 software leak
In a second Weibo post, Digital Chat Station showed some code from MIUI 12 (the user interface Xiaomi phones run) that seems to be about the Mi 11's display technology. Could the company be prioritizing screen performance over the camera?
The code shows the phone using AI to intelligently apply HDR depending on what's being shown on screen. There are also lots of mentions of MEMC, or motion smoothing, and image and video enhancement.
From the code, it seems the Xiaomi Mi 11 may have a way of digitally upscaling content viewed on it to look better. For example, it may be able to make non-HDR content look like it's HDR.
A smartphone display is a big selling point to many people - Oppo definitely made its Find X2's screen a core part of the sales pitch - so it makes sense for Xiaomi to develop software for the Mi 11 to make content look better.
We're expecting to see the Xiaomi Mi 11 launch in the coming months - some leaks say January, though February or March remains our prediction, in line with the Mi-series' typical launch. We're hearing quite a bit more information on the phone all the time though, so stay tuned to TechRadar for more.