When it comes to most photographic situations, the cameras on the back of your smartphone vastly outperform those on the front. But when taking selfies, of course, people typically avoid those cameras and use the front-facing one instead. Frustratingly, all those extra megapixels, better lenses, and fancy AI-based shooting modes don’t mean much if you can’t see what you’re taking a picture of. But the new Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra smartphone has a solution to that problem. The company has added an extra AMOLED display to its already robust camera bump on the back of the device.
That extra screen isn’t very big. It’s a 1.1-inch, wide-format display with a resolution of just 126 x 294. That sounds paltry, but it’s plenty to give people a rudimentary idea of what their picture will look like when shooting a selfie. It can also display notifications and other info like remaining battery life, time, and temperature.
A powerful camera bump
The rest of the gear enveloped by the camera bump is similarly impressive. The main 50-megapixel wide-angle camera has an f/1.95 lens sitting in front of Samsung’s latest high-end sensor. That chip, called the ISOCELL GN2, employs a split pixel tech typically found in more advanced mirrorless cameras and DSLRs. Because each pixel is split, they receive light from subtly different angles. The camera can use that position data to quickly focus on objects in the camera’s field of view.
That sensor is also relatively large, which means the pixels themselves are bigger. That makes them better at capturing light, which is the point of a camera in the first place.
In addition to the main module, the Mi 11 Ultra also sports a super-wide, 48-megapixel camera and a 5x optical zoom lens that can reach all the way out to 120X if you don’t mind bringing “digital zoom” into the mix. All three rear-facing cameras also promise 8K video, which is nifty, but still impractical at the moment.
There is a front-facing camera, of course, for video chats. It’s a fairly standard 20-megapixel camera that peeks through a hole in the main display.
The rest of the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra specs
This is a flagship device, so it offers a suite of mostly high-end features. The main 6.8-inch display offers a 3,200 x 1,440 resolution and a 120 Hz refresh rate for smooth gaming and scrolling. The touch sampling rate refreshes at 480 Hz, which means it will recognize your finger’s presence and movements with serious accuracy and responsiveness in most cases.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 processor handles the computing tasks with help from 12GB RAM. The 5,000mAh battery fast charges at 67X and also allows reverse wireless charging at up to 10W. So, if your pal’s device dies when you’re not near a charger, you can offer them some juice by simply putting your phones together back-to-back.
There’s no information about a US release at the moment, but it is available in China for around $1,000 for the flagship model. The European version will go on sale in the coming weeks for 1,199 euro.
If you don’t want to hop into an imported phone, it seems likely that Samsung will integrate this new camera chip into some of its devices coming later this year.