Meet the future of camera phones: Xiaomi Mi Mix Alpha 5G has 108MP camera

Meet the future of camera phones: Xiaomi Mi Mix Alpha 5G has 108MP camera
(Image credit: Xiaomi)

Xiaomi has officially announced the Xiaomi Mi Mix Alpha, a surround display 5G camera phone that has a mind-boggling 108MP camera. With a huge 180.6% screen-to-body ratio, this unique camera phone's display wraps around the edges of the phone and covers most of the back as well. 

Any parts not covered by this display are made of an aero-grade titanium that's reportedly lighter than stainless steel. 

• Read more: Best 5G phone for photographers

As reported by Engadget, the device will also include a 108MP camera that can capture photos with a 12,032 x 9,024 pixel resolution. In addition, there'll also be a 20MP ultra-wide camera and a 12MP telephoto lens as well. There isn't any front-facing camera, as these rear cameras can simply double up. 

This is definitely a fascinating concept. However, we do have a few concerns. 

Practically, we can see there being a few sticking points for consumers. Firstly, we do wonder how you're meant to handle this phone without accidentally opening apps. Perhaps there will be some clever gyroscope technology that will sense which screen is facing you and then 'dull' the other one so you don't accidentally press anything. 

Secondly, while a 180.6% screen-to-body ratio is undoubtedly impressive, the ugly black bar that runs down the back screen pretty much prevents it from being useful in our eyes. You won't be able to watch a video, text a friend, or play a game without being hindered by this bar. 

However, we could see this being a great starting point for a really interesting phone. What if the screen wrapped all the way around, with no black bar for the camera. The front and back of the phone could then act as dual screens, so you could do two things on your phone at once without having to switch between apps (such as watching a video and taking notes, or messaging a friend and playing a game). 

Even without our fantastic ideas for the Mi Mix Alpha 2 (you're welcome Xiaomi), we're sure that there will be quite a few people happy to dip into their savings to take this curious little device for a test drive. 

However, if we've caught you reaching for your purse strings, unfortunately you're going to have to wait. The Xiaomi Mi Mix Alpha is a concept camera phone, which means that it's unlikely it'll be distributed to a particularly wide audience. 

So far, we've heard that Xiaomi is planning to produce a small number of Mi Mix Alpha phones in China for 19,999 yuan (approximately £2,500 / $2,800) at some point in December. However, there don't seem to be any plans for international availability at this time. 

Even if the Mi Mix Alpha never becomes available outside of China, it's clear that camera phone manufacturers are ready and willing to push boundaries and stretch our ideas of what camera phones are capable of. Which is just as well, considering that Apple seems content to just sit back and watch seemingly every other manufacturer produce 5G phones while it's busy creating slofies

Concept phones like this may seem ridiculous or impractical, but they're an important tool to keep pushing technology forward and gauge consumer reactions. Perhaps the people don't want a surround screen - but maybe they'd invest in something else that this technology makes possible. 

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Louise Carey

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 and  Digital Photographer. 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.