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Could the future of camera phones be detachable cameras?

xiaomi
(Image credit: Xiaomi / 91 Mobiles)

Camera phone designs are getting more and more innovative as the technology progresses – and the latest patent from Xiaomi is certainly proof of this. Xiaomi has recently filed a patent for a camera phone that features a detachable rear camera module. This means that users would be able to remove the rear camera, swivel it around and place it on the front instead.

According to a patent filed at the World Intellectual Property Organization, Xiaomi could be working on a camera phone that features a rear camera module with multiple lenses. This module would be able to be removed from the rear of the camera phone and placed on the top to function as a front-facing camera.

• Read more: Best camera phone (opens in new tab)

As reported by (opens in new tab) 91Mobiles, the detachable rear camera module will use a magnetic suspension for attaching. While the exact mechanism isn't clear at present, 91Mobiles speculates that it will include magnets, a wireless transmission module and others.

Some readers might find themselves wondering whether there might be a degree of over-engineering involved with this patent. While the front-facing camera notch has clearly been a source of frustration for manufacturers looking for a clean and uninterrupted display, are users really so bothered by it that they would prefer to manually move the module from the back to the front? 

Either way, just because we've seen a patent from Xiaomi, it doesn't necessarily mean that we'll be seeing this technology come to market. However, it's clear that Xiaomi is on the search for the best possible solution for erasing the front-facing camera notch – whether that's through an under-screen camera (opens in new tab) or a detachable camera module. 

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With over a decade of photographic experience, Louise arms Digital Camera World with a wealth of knowledge on photographic technique and know-how – something at which she is so adept that she's delivered workshops for the likes of ITV and Sue Ryder. Louise also brings years of experience as both a web and print journalist, having served as features editor for Practical Photography magazine and contributing photography tutorials and camera analysis to titles including Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab) and  Digital Photographer (opens in new tab). Louise currently shoots with the Fujifilm X-T200 and the Nikon D800, capturing self-portraits and still life images, and is DCW's ecommerce editor, meaning that she knows good camera, lens and laptop deals when she sees them.