Xiaomi has introduced its self-developed Retractable Wide-aperture Lens Technology at its annual developer conference. Image credit: Xiaomi

Chinese technology company Xiaomi has officially kicked off its annual Mi Developer Conference (MIDC 2020) in Beijing. During the conference, Xiaomi has showcased numerous new technologies and breakthroughs, including retractable wide-aperture lens technology for smartphone devices.

If you have been following along with new smartphone announcements over the last few years, you'll have noticed a strong emphasis on improvements in image quality, camera performance and lens quality. Drawing inspiration from traditional camera and lens design, Xiaomi has developed new Retractable Wide-aperture Lens Technology. This advancement in design lodges a compact optical structure in the smartphone, which can be extended when necessary.

Xiaomi promises that this new design will result in a breakthrough in performance. The company states, 'This design allows the retractable telescopic camera to have a larger aperture to increase the amount of light input by 300%, as well as showcase better performance in portrait photography and night photography compared to currently-used camera structures.' Further, the design incorporates a new image stabilization technology which 'offers a larger anti-shake angle' and increases sharpness by 20%.

The telescoping design has the primary benefit of allowing a camera not in use to be compact and easy to slip into a pocket, while still offering optical zoom when in use and capturing photos. In the case of a smartphone and its camera design, it's even more critical to consumers that the device remain thin, compact, and lightweight.

Retractable lens designs have most frequently been seen in fixed-lens compact cameras, such as the Sony ZV-1 seen above. By utilizing a retractable lens design, engineers can strike a balance between performance when the camera is in use and a compact form factor when you aren't capturing images.

Photography advancements from Xiaomi have been fast and furious this year despite the impact of the pandemic. This August, Xiaomi introduced its 3rd-generation under-display camera, which promised a high-quality, hidden camera under the smartphone's display. This technology relies upon a revised pixel arrangement solution, allowing light to pass through gaps between the sub-pixels in the display.

Xiaomi's advancements in camera technology don't exist solely in the future. To celebrate its 10th anniversary this summer, Xiaomi launched the Mi 10 Ultra smartphone. This device incorporates a quad-camera array, including a long telephoto lens which offers a 120mm equivalent focal length and includes a 48MP image sensor. On the wide end of its camera array, there is a 12mm equivalent focal length and 20MP image sensor.

The Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra smartphone, introduced this August, highlights the company's fast-paced camera technology advancements with its 12mm and 120mm cameras. Click to enlarge.

It remains to be seen what the real-world performance of a telescoping lens in a smartphone will be, but Xiaomi intends to utilize its new camera technology in upcoming smartphones. The company's goal is to deliver 'professional photography to hundreds of millions of smartphone users around the world' with its expanding portfolio of image technology improvements.