- With Xiaomi all set to launch its Redmi Note series with a 108-megapixel camera, suddenly other phone brands have started making camera-centric announcements as well.
- For some reason, its competitors seem to be more inclined to follow rather than steal a march on Xiaomi in the megapixel wars.
- It was not known for its cameras initially, but the Redmi Note series turned out to be a camera trendsetter with the 48-megapixel Redmi Note 7 Pro in 2019.
It was a charming coincidence. A few days before Xiaomi was to launch its Redmi Note 10 series, which would feature a 108-megapixel camera, one of its rivals announced details of its own 108-megapixel camera, although without too many references to the product on which it would be featured (the Realme 8 Pro, but we know little else about it). Another couple of brands also suddenly started dropping hints about special cameras on their forthcoming phones.
Now, 108 megapixel cameras are not new – they have been around for more than a year, and Xiaomi itself has released a number of devices with three-digit megapixel counts(the Mi 10, the Mi 10T Pro, and the Mi 10i).
So why then the sudden rush to try and grab a spot in the camera attention zone?
Well, mainly because this time the Redmi Note will be featuring a 108-megapixel sensor. And that suddenly shifts perspectives. Yes, there have been other devices with such a sensor, but they have been largely in the premium segment – the Mi 10i was an honorable exception. The Redmi Note 10 is expected to make the 108-megapixel snapper mainstream by bringing it to a totally new price point, perhaps between Rs 15,000 and Rs 20,000.
Xiaomi has been making it a habit of bossing the megapixel battles in that segment since the Redmi Note 7 Pro was launched in 2019. Interestingly, in the period prior to that, the brand had struggled to an extent in the camera department and was perceived to lag behind the likes of Honor. It even came a little late to the dual-camera party. Prior to 2019, the cameras were not a key reason for investing in a Redmi Note. No, you bought a Note for its great battery life and generally very good processor (at its price point).
Xiaomi however turned things around with the Redmi Note 7 Pro. It was not the first phone in the Indian market with a 48-megapixel sensor, but the brand was able to build a level of storytelling and communication around it that suddenly made 48 megapixels a “thing.” Mind you, it DID help that the camera on the Note 7 Pro punched well above its price – it used a sensor that Android flagships were using until late 2020!
Of course, the competition was quick to latch on to the trend. The months that followed say other brands, most notably (pun intended) Xiaomi’s rival, Realme, release 48-megapixel snapper phones. And yet for some reason, the competition did not really try to get on the front foot in this regard. Realme did come out with a 64-megapixel sensor before any Redmi phone did but it did not make the sort of waves that the 48-megapixel sensors had. Was it because 48-megapixel represented a much bigger leap above the status quo as compared to 64-megapixel? Or was it because 48 megapixels was considered good enough for a flagship (thank you, OnePlus) even though 64-megapixel was around? Or well, was it because other brands did not have Xiaomi’s communications secret sauce?
Well, we do not really know the answer. Xiaomi itself did not seem to push 64 megapixels too hard, focusing more on bringing 48-megapixel sensors to more affordable price points. That said, Xiaomi seems to have stolen a march over its competitors yet again in the megapixel wars by pretty much occupying the 108-megapixel mind space at the time of writing this article. The irony is that it is managing to do this even though the competition has had a considerable time to capitalize on it- 108-megapixel sensors have been around for more than a year now. Of course, we do not know the technological challenges putting a 108-megapixel camera on a relatively affordable device would have posed, but what we DO know is that apart from Xiaomi, no one else seems to have tried it in India. The Mi 10i could have triggered similar offerings from other brands, but for some reason, it did not.
The Redmi Note, however, is a very different kettle of fish. Thanks to its well-publicized 108-megapixel campaign. it seems that a lot of other brands are all set to follow Xiaomi’s example in the 108-megapixel camera department. And although a lot will depend on how well the 108-megapixel sensor on the Redmi Note 10 series performs, there is every chance that by the time the year ends, we would have a fair selection of phones with 108-megapixel cameras below Rs 20,000. No, we do not know if that means better pictures. That is another story (and is being written!). But it definitely means more options for the mainstream phone user in terms of camera. Which is never a bad thing.
It might have arrived a little late to the battlefield. But whether due to its product performance or communications skills or a blend of both, aided perhaps by competition more inclined to follow rather than lead (thus far), Xiaomi sure is winning the mainstream megapixel wars in India.
We do not see consumers complaining.