Xiaomi Mi 4 camera spotlight: one of the first with Sony’s new 13-megapixel IMX214 sensor, demo images show it off

Xiaomi unwrapped the Mi 4 at a huge event earlier today, and while the release date is still a few weeks away (unfortunately, the Mi 4 will not be officially sold in the United States and in Europe just yet), details about the 13-megapixel camera have already surfaced.

The Xiaomi Mi 4 comes with a 13-megapixel main camera with a wide, f/1.8 aperture. The exciting news, however, is about the camera sensor: the Mi 4 is one of the first phones to feature the new Sony IMX214 sensor (a BSI stacked CMOS sensor with a 1/3.06” size), a huge step up in the photography department over the last-gen IMX135 used in flagship devices like nowadays (phones like the Samsung Galaxy S4, LG G3, LG G2, etc).

There is a long list of advantages that the new Sony IMX214 brings over the IMX135: it comes with better sensitivity (important for low-light photography), less color crosstalk (so that pixels of one color, say red, don’t get mixed with pixels of other, say green) and significantly improved real-time video HDR.

The big breakthrough is in the speed of HDR - while earlier, it was ill-advised to shoot an HDR of a moving object (the HDR was too slow, and it’d result in a blurred image), the Sony IMX214 is capable of recording 30 frames per second HDR thanks to a new SME-HDR technology. Not just that, though, thanks to improvements in backlight, the camera module is slimmer than the IMX135.

Specifically, in the Xiaomi Mi 4 camera implementation, we have a 13-megapixel shooter that is fast, capable of locking focus in just 0.3 seconds. Last-generation phones like the Mi 3 (but also devices like the Galaxy S4) took 0.6 to 0.8 seconds to achieve focus, which might not sound like much, but is more than enough to miss an impromptu smile that makes the moment special. The Mi 4 comes with a new closed-loop focus system that enables this speedier auto-focus acquisition. The difference comes in the amount of physical movement required to focus - it’s much quicker on the Mi 4.

The Mi 4 camera has also improved its low-light shooting with flash - it takes a flash-less image along with one with flash, and combines them to get both the additional light on the subject, but also the more natural colors of the flashless shot. The Mi 4 also has a post-capture image refocus mode.

For video, the Mi 4 records at up to 4K at 30 frames per second, plus it supports real-time video HDR.

The front camera on the Mi 4 is an 8-megapixel one with a smaller, Sony IMX219 sensor of 1/4" size. It comes with an equally fast f/1.8 lens, with a wide, 80-degree field of view. Xiaomi employs its usual (a bit gimmicky) age and gender recognition, and ‘beautifies’ your images by softening the skin tones and you can pick how aggressively will the phone do this. Finally, there are some of the usual filters and effects that you can overlay on top of images.

Overall, the Xiaomi Mi 4 is at the fore-front of the camera race - it has the latest Sony IMX214 sensor that we expect to see in many upcoming top-shelf devices, and with a few tweaks here and there, it has the potential to be a great cameraphone.

Related phones

Mi 4
  • Display 5.0" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 13 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, Quad-core, 2500 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB
  • Battery 3080 mAh



1. Duketytz

Posts: 534; Member since: Nov 28, 2013

Sony can never get their own cameras right but can for others. I'm a Sony fan btw. Hate how Sony screws up their own cameras... Please step up your game Sony!

4. cezarepc

Posts: 718; Member since: Nov 23, 2012

They stopped caring after the Arc S. Sony: Nah let them make good with our sensors, they'll buy millions of modules from us.

5. Vinayakn73

Posts: 207; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

Sony fails in software department. 20mp camera on z2 can't even match the details produced by 13mp camera by other OEM's (Camera Software), the details are to soft for mylikings and those are not limited to z2 other xperia's also suffer from same.

24. justsayit

Posts: 256; Member since: May 09, 2013

the worst thing is, people still believe that z1 and z2 camera is better other phone,just because of 20Megapixel when people will starting know that megapixel is just number,not quality?

26. Ethos unregistered

do u know when u see difference btw pixels ? when u streaming video over network actual live ... i compared front camera iphon 5 and my android phon with 5mpx and it looks much nicer on 5 mpx.. but obviously when taking picture there are other more things which changes quality .. but as i said comparing mpx it needs streaming camera over network with skype or tango or other apps supporting video calls ..

27. RajRicardo

Posts: 489; Member since: Feb 28, 2014

ok then, let's talk a little about HTC One here.

25. Ethos unregistered

it is about software mainly ..

2. itsdeepak4u2000

Posts: 3718; Member since: Nov 03, 2012

Awesome. Other OEMs make good use of Sony's sensors which Sony cannot do.

3. Jishnusur

Posts: 173; Member since: Oct 07, 2013

I'm shifting to China for those ladies. Anyone who wants to join please contact! :D

9. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 2012

I'll join if you change the destination to Japan.

16. LoveHater

Posts: 234; Member since: Oct 09, 2013

I'll join if you change the destination to South Korea :D


Posts: 399; Member since: Nov 09, 2013

I live in Hong Kong so I am already here

6. Vinayakn73

Posts: 207; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

I wish that Xiaomi kind of manufacturers bring down proudy and greedy OEM's (Shameshung, ipple, Sony) and show them what is real value for money?

7. Deaconclgi

Posts: 405; Member since: Nov 03, 2012

The sensor size is still small. That is great that the overall picture quality is improving but I need pictures that are actually great on the pixel level and not ones that just look good when not zoomed in. I welcome any improvements though. I'm disappointed in the camera on the Lumia 1520, if only because I have been completely spoiled by the results from my 1020, 808 PureView, Nokia N8 and Nokia N82. The 1520 just doesn't deliver clarity like those devices. I hope the next imaging flagship form Microsoft Mobile combines the brute hardware power of the 808 PureView with the slickness and algorithms of Nokia Camera. The 1020 was close but still less of a technical marvel compared to the 808. I don't have high hopes though as Microsoft will probably go for a slim model, weak xenon like the 1020, leaving out the ND filter and having a smaller sensor than the 808 again.

8. gaara6775

Posts: 738; Member since: May 20, 2014

This phone is perfect only if it had sd805. Because they make 1 flagship per year .

10. mustafansu

Posts: 10; Member since: Nov 18, 2012

Doesn't the One Plus one use the same sensor from Sony?

11. needa

Posts: 205; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

the oneplus uses this sensor. and the apple is using the 220, an upgrade to the 214. i don't see what the big deal is.

12. Duketytz

Posts: 534; Member since: Nov 28, 2013

That's the iPhone 6 rumoured sensor and it is not even released yet so yup. But you are right about the OPO sensor though

13. smallworld

Posts: 517; Member since: Jul 13, 2012

I think the OnePlus One and the Oppo Find 7 also have the IMX214 sensor.

14. lallolu

Posts: 732; Member since: Sep 18, 2012

thanks a lot, I was wondering the same thing. Oneplus One, Oppo Find 7 and LG G3 use IMX214. The person that wrote this article dis not get his facts right.

17. roobs

Posts: 96; Member since: Mar 18, 2013

G3 uses the same as the G2, IMX135. Refer to article.

23. cc3493

Posts: 158; Member since: Jul 06, 2013

Well he didnt say "the first" he said "one of the first", so he did get his facts right lol

15. Ghost04

Posts: 517; Member since: May 03, 2014

The best 13MP camera is used by VIVO X-SHOT . You can check it in gizchina.com review .

18. Sid91 unregistered

the combined shot is a neat function, Most of my images with flash highlight the person but the background becomes dark, if this feature works Im definitely getting this fone

19. Epicness1o1

Posts: 303; Member since: May 30, 2013

Cmon sony make ur image proccesing software better

21. sergiobr

Posts: 718; Member since: Feb 25, 2013

There´s something wrong, neither my Sony RX100 take photos like this.

22. kent-gaga

Posts: 609; Member since: Apr 10, 2012

you guys do realize that most (if not all) of these pictures are fake right? how come the 2 first pictures can blur the background that much at that distance? and the front facing camera also have auto focus? i dont think so stupid Xiaomi dont even know how to promote their products the right way

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