Forget the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 — Xiaomi has a 144MP camera phone

The Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro, the company's most recently announced phone. (Image credit: Xiaomi)

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra has an impressive 108MP camera, but it wasn't the first phone to have it. Xiaomi's Mi CC9 Pro/Mi Note 10 was the first handset to use this enormous sensor, and it looks like the Chinese phone maker will beat Samsung to it again with an even larger camera.

A leak from Sudhanshu Ambhore on Twitter (via TechRadar) claims that a 144MP camera will appear on either the Xiaomi Mi 10S Pro (the upgraded version of the just-announced Xiaomi Mi 10 series) or the Mi CC10 Pro. The Mi CC series is what the Mi Note series is known as within China, so we in the US and UK would likely know the second phone as the Mi Note 11 Pro instead.

Samsung will likely be making this camera, in an amusing twist of fate. We've previously heard that Samsung is working on a 150MP Isocell camera sensor, as mentioned by Twitter leaker Ice Universe at the end of 2019. There is a chance however that this project is the same as the 144MP camera, the final sensor resolution reduced a little from the initial target.

While Samsung Semiconductor, the camera's designer, is part of the same company as Samsung Mobile, it is a separately managed business that sells products to other businesses, sometimes before Samsung Mobile gets to use it. We can likely expect to see this sensor in next year's Galaxy S30, rather than the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 that's set to launch later this year. But either way, Samsung Mobile looks poised to be in the middle of the queue when it comes to using one of its sister company's technologies.

The Mi Note 10 only costs around $400 despite sporting a penta-camera array on the back, including the 108MP sensor, a larger battery capacity of 5,260 mAh to the S20 Ultra's 5,000 mAh, and a faster default charging speed of 30W compared to 25W. It does lose out to the Galaxy S20 Ultra in some areas (as you'd hope for a phone that costs $1000 more), such as screen resolution and refresh rate, total RAM, and a much less powerful CPU, using a Snapdragon 730G instead of the top of the line Snapdragon 865.

Since Xiaomi's phones are far cheaper than Samsung's, the Mi Note 10 could be a cost-efficient way to get roughly the same if not better camera tech than that of Samsung's 2021 flagships. However, there's more to a phone than just the megapixel count, and while there are a few pros and cons to picking a Xiaomi over a Samsung, the major problem is they're much harder to find in the US. But if this rumor turns out to be true, Xiaomi's next flagship could be worth seeking out.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.