Xiaomi's new flagship phone slides the camera out of sight
Bezels around smartphone screens are getting slimmer and slimmer, but it's hard to get rid of them completely – the selfie camera still needs a home, after all. Rather than resort to the divisive "notch" design, Chinese company Xiaomi has moved the cameras on its new flagship phone, the Mi Mix 3, to a magnetic slide-out compartment. Gimmicks aside, the phone is also packing some pretty high-end specs.
The Mi Mix 3 uses neodymium magnets to get the cameras to pop out just right when the user pushes the screen down. While that mechanical movement might seem like something else that can break, Xiaomi says it's tested the system so it should last for over 300,000 cycles.
Sliding it out reveals two front-facing cameras. The main one captures the world (or your face) in a sharp 24 megapixels, using a Sony IMX576 sensor to improve its low-light performance. The secondary sensor is a relatively-low 2 MP, but this is dedicated to depth-sensing, which is passed onto the onboard AI systems to build a bokeh effect in photos. It's not just for taking photos either – the sliding mechanism can be set up to answer calls or trigger other functions.
With those cameras out of the way, the screen has room to stretch out. The AMOLED display measures 6.4 in and has a resolution of 2,340 x 1,080, and Xiaomi says the Mi Mix 3 has a screen-to-body ratio of 93.4 percent. That gives it a sizeable lead over the iPhone XS Max and Samsung Galaxy S9+, which both boast just over 84 percent. In fact the only phone we know of to pack more screen into less body is the Oppo Find X, which uses a similar pop-up camera mechanism.
The Mi Mix 3's rear cameras are no slouches either. The phone sports dual 12-MP cameras that can shoot 4K video and super slow-motion at 960 frames per second, which is tied with Samsung's Galaxy S9 line as the slowest of slow-mo modes on phones at the moment. Again, Xiaomi is focusing on AI to aid photography through auto stabilization, calibration and light metering based on the scene you're trying to capture.
The Mi Mix 3 is set to come in three different colors – Jade Green, Sapphire Blue and Onyx Black – and the back is, strangely, ceramic. In another nice little touch, the phone comes with a wireless charger in the box, which is something almost all of the big players make you buy separately.
Four models are available for the Mi Mix 3. The first has 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB storage for RMB3,299, the second ups the RAM to 8 GB RAM for RMB3,599, and the third keeps the 8 GB of RAM and doubles the storage space to 256 GB for RMB3,999. The fourth is a limited Palace Museum Edition, which pushes the RAM out to a staggering 10 GB and has a generous 256 GB of storage, for RMB4,999. At today's rates, that converts to roughly US$475, $520, $575, and $720, respectively. While the phones will be released in China on November 1, there's no word yet on when they might land in other parts of the world.