Fri. Dec 9th, 2022
We take a look at the Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold: it's yes because of the techno photo, it's no because of the design

We were able to test the Xiaomi Mix Fold at MWC 2022. Launched last year in China, the foldable smartphone uses a liquid lens to be versatile in photography. It’s exciting, unfortunately the design doesn’t follow.

The Xiaomi Mi Mix fold

The Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold // Source: Anthony Wonner – Frandroid

In 2021, Xiaomi presented with great fanfare the Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold, its first folding smartphone on the market. Available for sale only in China, the device was showcased at MWC 2022 in Barcelona and inevitably piqued our curiosity.

On the one hand, because we suspect that Xiaomi wants to play the creeps in this particular sector of folding smartphones and that Europe should end up worried in the medium or long term. On the other hand, because the Mi Mix Fold camera takes advantage of a technological innovation that, on paper, has enormous potential. In fact, we will be interested in the liquid lens of this module.

The unfolded internal screen of the Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold

The unfolded internal screen of the Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold // Source: Frandroid

A liquid lens, as its name suggests, is made up of at least one liquid. Therefore, with a well-dosed electrical current, it can take on different shapes (concave, convex, etc.), which is obviously not the case with a traditional solid lens. So light will not enter the sensor in the same way and the focal length can vary entirely.

The liquid lens for macro

Therefore, Xiaomi has achieved the great feat of using this technique in one of the three cameras of its Mi Mix Fold. In addition to the main camera of 108 megapixels and the ultra wide angle, the smartphone is equipped with a sensor dedicated to both shots with optical zoom (x30 digital) and macro.

Note that this liquid lens also allows the telephoto lens to drastically reduce the focusing distance, which is usually quite large at this focal length.

The telephoto lens of the Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold has a liquid lens

The telephoto lens of the Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold has a liquid lens // Source: Anthony Wonner – Frandroid

It is not common at all. Normally, in smartphones, the macro mode is managed either by the ultra wide angle (and it usually works well) or by a sensor specifically dedicated to this option (and it usually does not work well). And you will see that leaving this task to the telephoto lens has interesting consequences to analyze.

A little step reminder: doing macros means using the highest magnification ratio. Therefore, this shooting mode is used to view items larger than the human eye can perceive.

A convincing use, but perfectible

We were able to have some fun with said camera to test its capabilities. At first, there were a few hiccups: Due to some kind of bug, the software’s image processing literally messed up the shots by applying some downright nasty smoothing.

Fortunately, the problem finally disappeared after some manipulations; after all, it was a display model. From there, the images we were able to capture were much more convincing, as they were sharper and more pleasing to the eye.

The macro mode of the Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold offers good quality

The macro mode of the Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold offers good quality // Source: Anthony Wonner – Frandroid

Placing our fingers in front of the different lenses, we could verify that it was indeed the same sensor that was used for the classic zoom and macro mode thanks to the famous liquid lens. Also, for macro images, you didn’t have to get too close to the item you were shooting to focus properly.

Furthermore, macro photos taken with the Mi Mix Fold offer renderings that vary significantly from what other smartphones do with its ultra-wide angle, in particular there is less distortion and a more pronounced bokeh effect behind the plane (with sensor size and aperture). Not surprisingly, since we’re dealing with different focal lengths, it’s the same reason your nose might look bigger or smaller in a photo.

The camera interface of the Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold

The Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold camera interface // Source: Anthony Wonner – Frandroid

The atmosphere that emerges from the macro mode changes radically depending on the solution used. As for knowing which is the best, these are artistic considerations that I will not venture into in this work.

That said, liquid lens technology shows here that it has great potential and may be an avenue worth seriously exploring to reduce the number of sensors in our smartphones and make them more versatile in photography.

In the case of the Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold, the demonstration is unfortunately limited, because it does not really reduce the size of the photographic module. The macro mode can be managed by the ultra wide angle (even if the result will be a little different), we don’t really save money.

The Mi Mix Fold is Xiaomi's first folding smartphone

The Mi Mix Fold is Xiaomi’s first folding smartphone // Source: Frandroid

On the other hand, this innovation could shine with a thousand lights when it allows managing, with a single camera, wide angle and ultra wide angle -or any mode that, at present, inevitably requires twice as many sensors

The flaws of the Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold

Therefore, exciting prospects for the future are emerging and we are eagerly awaiting the next models to be released by Xiaomi. Unfortunately, this impatience to see future foldable smartphones from the Chinese troublemaker is also motivated by serious flaws in the Mi Mix Fold that need to be fixed.

The Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold folding and its wide edges

The Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold folding and its wide edges // Source: Frandroid

In fact, the external screen of the Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold has a very elongated ratio, a bit like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3. However, the very (too) thick borders around the screen area give the impression that the slab it is particularly narrow and that the finishes are a bit sloppy.

Also, the hinge is not pleasant to handle as it has a kind of spring that prevents using the smartphone in sitting mode. Regardless of the level of folding, the Mi Mix Fold inevitably re-opens.

The Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold does not have a nice hinge

The Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold does not have a nice hinge // Source: Frandroid

Finally, the Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold does not have a photosensor on the large internal screen. However, it is an integration that can be practical for video conferences, for example. So many elements that considerably affect the comfort of casual use. There is no doubt that the manufacturer is already investigating all these questions.

This article was translated from this source written by


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