With so many issues plaguing the world requiring heated debates, who launched the world’s first 64MP camera smartphone should be the last thing to fight about, especially since the event happened around two years back. The world has moved on, but unfortunately the people behind the brands responsible for stirring the market with 64MP and 108MP cameras, have not.
With both Redmi and Realme gearing up to launch their marquee mid-rangers – The Redmi Note 10 Series and the Realme 8 Series respectively, the brands are lending hype to the upcoming launch events by revealing bits and pieces of information around the devices, not just every day, but every few hours.
It is among these hyped messaging that Realme CEO Madhav Sheth claimed that Realme was the first to introduce a 64MP camera on a smartphone to the world, talking about the Realme XT. “From launching the world’s 1st 64MP Camera Smartphone to democratizing the 64MP Sony Camera, Realme has been a pioneer in camera tech and will continue to #DareToLeap,” Sheth wrote.
— Madhav108MP (@MadhavSheth1) March 2, 2021
A day later, pat came the reply from Redmi. Redmi’s Director of Business Sneha Tainwala called out Madhav Sheth on making false claims to mislead consumers. She fact checked that it was actually the Redmi Note 8 Pro that launched as the world’s first 64MP camera smartphone, and not the Realme XT.
Madhav Sir @MadhavSheth1– with all due respect, please avoid making incorrect false claims to mislead consumers. 🙏#RedmiNote8Pro was the world's 1st phone with #64MP camera, launched in August 2019. Fact check:👉 https://t.co/vwWCm9AL7s
Hope you'll not make incorrect claims! pic.twitter.com/vrUREhkVWZ
— Sneha Tainwala (@SnehaTainwala) March 3, 2021
First things first
The tweets prompted us to go back in time and look at the dates, and Redmi’s claims are indeed true. The Redmi Note 8 Pro is indeed the world’s first 64MP camera smartphone that was unveiled in China on August 29, 2019, while the Realme XT went official on September 13th September 2019, a good two weeks after Redmi’s launch. But here’s where things become murkier a bit.
Even before the launch of the respective smartphones, both brands held a camera innovation event. On August 6 2019, Redmi held a camera innovation event in China showcasing the 64MP camera to fans in the mainland. Just two days after, Realme held a similar camera event in New Delhi where it also showcased what the 64MP camera will be capable of. Interestingly, both brands used the same image sensor made by Samsung in their respective smartphones. So who was the first?
In both cases, be it the launch event or the camera innovation event, it was Redmi (then a sub-brand of Xiaomi) that introduced the 64MP camera smartphone to the world. Provided we are still considering China as part of this world.
What Realme can take credit for is launching the 64MP-touting Realme XT first in India, much before the Redmi Note 8 Pro. The Realme XT was an India-first smartphone launched in September 13, 2019. And it was more than a month later, on 16th October 2019 that the Redmi Note 8 Pro launched in India, alongside the Redmi Note 8.
Here’s a quick summary of the launch timelines –
- 6th Aug 2019: Redmi showcased 64MP camera in China
- 8th August 2019: Realme showcased 64MP camera in New Delhi
- 29th August 2019: Redmi Note 8 series launched in China
- 5th September: Realme XT launched in India
- 16th October: Redmi Note 8 Pro launched in India
Coming first vs Doing it right
Being the first to implement and use a technology is certainly a good marketing pitch. But it’s just that. Nothing more. More often than not, the ones who dare to go first don’t usually get it right. With more iterations and observations, the product becomes more optimised, and deliver better results.
The best example? iPhones. Time and time again, Apple has had to bear the brunt of not being the first in showcasing the popular technology driving smartphones year after year. Be it a multi-camera setup, widgets on the homescreen, OLED displays, wireless charging – the list is endless. Yet, time and time again, when Apple released these features on their latest iPhones, the implementation has always been better than Android.
The flipside is Siri. Apple was the first to offer a digital voice assistant, but as any technology enthusiast will tell you, the ones that came later are indeed more capable, and popular.
In fact, the 64MP cameras that launched in 2019 in these mid-range smartphones could not hold a candle to the seemingly inferior 12MP cameras on the Samsung Galaxy S10 or the iPhone 11. Despite a large sensor size, the individual pixels were just as small as the previous 48MP camera, and at 0.8 microns it’s hardly any match for the large focus-pixels on Samsung and Apple flagships launched that year. Large sensors also suffers from a shallow plane of focus which causes problems in shooting objects that are up close. The sensor also needed a lot more time to process, considering the mid-range hardware in the Redmi Note 8 Pro and the Realme X7. No wonder both the brands gave up introducing new camera hardware first in their affordable smartphones.
Battle for the 108MP crown
Two years later, the fight is still the same. Both brands are always at each other’s throats. If Redmi makes an announcement, Realme can’t be too far away. And vice versa. Only this time, the stakes are much higher. 108MP cameras are poised to trickle down to the under-20k segment and this one has really delivered. Xiaomi has consistently used the 108MP camera in its flagship Mi 10 and Mi 11 series, while Realme will be using it for the first time in the upcoming Realme 8 Series. Who will do it better? It certainly won’t depend on who launched what first, that’s for sure.