Xiaomi patents a DSLR-style zoom system for smartphones

Xiaomi is continuing its efforts to consolidate its lead over the competition from Apple and Samsung by developing a technology that should provide a DSLR-like experience in a smartphone package.

Brought to the attention of the famous rumor source Digital Chat Station, which is especially relevant to China’s big smartphone brands, Xiaomi’s recently filed patent describes a way to couple an appreciably sized optical sensor to a variable focal length lens system, whose lenses move just like a DSLR camera.

More than a marketing gimmick, the DSLR-style technology developed by Xiaomi could eliminate the need for secondary cameras, with a single high-performance sensor coupled to a versatile lens assembly serving both macro and optical zoom, or ultra-wide, functions. Certainly, Xiaomi isn’t the only company working on such a system. It’s just that, so far, such an approach would have made the phone too thick and clunky, especially the top.

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We can only assume that Xiaomi’s patented innovation somehow manages to circumvent these limitations, delivering a “DSLR” smartphone camera with comparable performance, but without the compromise of added weight and thickness.

For example, the last phones to try this approach were Samsung’s Galaxy K Zoom and S4 Zoom, both of which feature variable focal length cameras. The Galaxy K Zoom had a 10x optical zoom, with a 35mm focal length equivalent to 24-240mm. Unfortunately, that phone was quite heavy and thick.

For now, it remains to be seen whether Xiaomi will actually use the patented innovation, as it’s already notorious practice for large corporations to patent ideas with potential just to block similar innovations from appearing in rival manufacturers’ camps, with no real intention of including that technology with a commercial product.

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