Xiaomi brings 5-camera, 108MP smartphone to market amidst challenges
By Edwin Yapp December 4, 2019
IT’S not a question of 'if' but 'when' smartphone makers would introduce the first five-camera device to the market and still not charge an arm and a leg for it. And no one would bet against Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp, to do just that in the form of the Mi Note 10 series of smartphones.
The Mi Note 10 series comes in two versions: The Mi Note 10 and the souped up version of the 10, the Mi Note 10 Pro. The former goes for a very affordable RM2,099 while the latter, a slightly higher specification device, goes for RM2,499. The devices will be available from Dec 7 onwards.
Speaking to the media during the launch on Dec 3, Xiaomi country manager for Malaysia and Singapore Allen An said the company is constantly pushing new boundaries with its products, and that the Mi Note 10 series is one such product.
“The Mi Note 10 is designed not only for the regular consumer but even for professional photographers who want more from their devices,” he said at the launch in Kuala Lumpur.
The Beijing-based company has always prided itself as a company that aims to bring the most packed specification on a smartphone to the masses. The Mi Note 10 encompasses five different, 7-piece lens.
They comprise a 108-megapixel (MP) wide-angle lens, one 12MP telephoto lens, one 5MP telephoto lens, a 20MP ultra wide-angle lens, and a 2MP macro lens. The company claimed that this enables a seamless zoom experience from 0.6x to 50x without compromising image quality.
The Mi Note 10 Pro meanwhile comprises five 8-piece lens and has the same types of lenses found in the Mi Note 10. It gets a bump in RAM to 8GB and 256GB of storage. Both devices sport a massive 5,260mAh battery, which the company claims can keep the heavy users of the device going for two full days.
An said the 108MP main camera takes mobile photography to the next level and is an industry first. The sensor comes courtesy of Samsung ISOCELL Bright HMX 108MP, which enables both devices to sport a whopping 12,032 x 9,024 resolution. With this configuration, Xiaomi claims the camera can produce billboard-level prints up to 4.24 meters high.
The device also offers a 1/1.33-inch large image sensor that supports 4-in-1 pixel binning to capture more detail in low-light conditions, while the 4-axis OIS helps with the clarity of the shots taken. In low light conditions, the 1.4μm large pixel size and dual PD autofocus allows for sharper and brighter portraits.
The second lens for taking portrait pictures is courtesy of a 12MP telephoto lens at 50mm focal length, which is on par with focal lengths used by professional portrait photographers, the company claimed.
Meanwhile, the third 5MP, 5x telephoto lens is capable of 10x hybrid and 50x digital zoom. Additionally, the lens is equipped with OIS (optical image stabilisation) and an f/2.0 aperture for better images under non-optimal lighting environments.
The fourth lens is the 20MP ultra-wide angle, which lets users capture wide landscapes and large group photos without compromising on width. The fifth lens is a 2MP macro lens, which offers autofocus for closeup images.
Mi Note 10’s rear camera setup supports all-new Night Mode 2.0 which allows for greater light capture and combines multiple shots of the same scene for increased versatility, the company said.
It also offers a mode known as “ShootSteady,” a video technology for a smooth and steady video experience, along with 960 frames-per-second macro slow-motion video and 4K video with the ultra-wide angle. Users can leverage Vlog mode to easily create stylish and engaging videos with seven different cinematic effects.
Besides the powerful penta-based rear camera setup, the Mi Note 10 also features a 32MP front camera, which offers various adjustments for selfies.
Pictures shown during the launch were impressive. Images captured and blown up did show vivid details of the capabilities of the Mi Note 10 series. Digital News Asia (DNA) will bring you more when the full review comes in.
Hardware-wise, the Mi Note 10 has a 6.47-inch, 3D curved AMOLED display, sporting a 400,000:1 contrast ratio. It comes equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 730G and Adreno 618 GPU. The display supports an all-new 88% thinner in-screen optical fingerprint sensor, with a 10% larger fingerprint detection area, Xiaomi noted.
On the back, Mi Note 10 is encased with a 3D curved glass, wrapped by Corning Gorilla Glass 5, which helps provide grip and feel for the user’s hand. The Mi Note 10 comes in three colors: Midnight Black, Aurora Green, and Glacier White.
Beyond the launch of the new Mi Note 10 series, Xiaomi’s An also introduced its latest operating system, the MIUI 11, which he claimed is more intuitive than its predessors.
“We have redesigned the software to give it a cleaner look and have added more features to aid in productivity, making it easier for our users to utilise the features.”
Dip in fortunes
According to Tarun Pathak, associate director at Counterpoint Research, Xiaomi has been trying to expand in mid-tier segment, where three brands – Oppo, Vivo and Huawei – have the edge in China.
Pathak noted consumers in this segment of the market has recently shifted their buying preference from mid-tier (US$200 to US$300) to the upper mid-tier segment (US$300 to US$500) in China, thereby affecting Xiaomi’s market share in its home base
According to data from Counterpoint Research, Xiaomi has in recent times suffered a sharp decline in revenue of about 38% in its home market China due to increasing pressure from homegrown rivals.
Counterpoint noted that its gross profit during the quarter hit US$1.16 billion with a year-over-year (YoY) growth of 25.2%. Its adjusted net profit increased by 20.3% YoY to reach US$495 million. It further noted that its smartphone segment, which accounts for 60% of its total revenue, declined 7.8% YoY to reach US$4.57 billion.
“The decline was driven by its performance in China last quarter, thanks to the onslaught from [Huawei-owned] Honor on one side, and Oppo A-series and Vivo Y-series on the other,” he told DNA in an email interview.
“The decline would have been steeper if it weren’t for the strong performance in India (+8%) and Western European markets (+68%).”
Asked if this trend would happen here in Southeast Asia, Pathak said “it is expected to happen too” in adjoining developed markets, such as in Singapore and Malaysia.
“Xiaomi would would not like to repeat the same mistake in this region,” he argued. “In such a scenario, it makes sense for Xiaomi aggressively capture the upper mid-tier devices with the likes of Mi Note 10 and Mi Note 10 Pro by being first to market with a penta-based camera smartphone.”
Additionally, Pathak said in a 5G era, such capabilities [five cameras] would complement up-and-coming smartphones and Xiaomi would need to prepare to defend itself from rivals from a hardware perspective.
Pathak also said Xiaomi’s revenues numbers aside, the company’s fortunes would need to depend on how it performs on its next line of 5G smartphones and how it will monetise its services outside of its user base in China.
“For Xiaomi to gain in the global smartphone market, its performance in its home market China will be crucial. Having a strong portfolio of 5G smartphones can help Xiaomi to capture growth,” Pahak argued.
He also noted that Xiaomi now has a monthly active MIUI user base of 291.6 million, while the number of connected IoT devices (excluding smartphones and laptops) reached 213.2 million, where out of these 291.6 million MIUI users, 112.8 million are from China.
“These are impressive user metrics for any brand, but the key challenge for Xiaomi is to monetise this user base thus driving its Internet services revenue which contributes to just 10% of the overall revenue,” he added.