MWC19 | Xiaomi - Light collaboration paves way for affordable multi-module smartphone cameras
As far as mobile camera setups are concerned, the current trend is to include as many sensors as possible in order to provide increased clarity in low-light environments, plus some more flexibility for wide-angle shots and bokeh effects if needed. Even with multiple sensors, the quality of smartphone pictures still cannot compare to that of DSLR shots due to obvious miniaturization constraints. Nevertheless, the new joint-venture started by Xiaomi and Light could close the quality gap between smartphone mobile cameras and DSLR shooters, as the two companies plan to release affordable multi-module imaging setups.
Nokia’s model 9 Pureview smartphone is currently king when it comes to the number of rear sensors with its 5 rear cameras. Although Xiaomi and Light did not specify the exact number of sensors for the upcoming camera setups, we know that Light is already developing camera arrays of 6, 12 and 18 sensors, so that should give us a clue about what is coming. Xiaomi probably wants to keep things as compact as possible and will most likely not integrate more than 10 sensors.
In order to handle that many sensors, Light also developed a special ASIC chip that focuses the lenses, adjusts exposure levels, calculates white balance etc. The custom ASIC chip combines all images in a “RAW” image that is then sent to an application processor through two MIPI transmitters for further quality enhancements.
The two companies did not specify any launch dates, however, they did mention that they are working on multiple modules, so we could expect more affordable phones, as well as premium devices featuring the new camera arrays.