Xiaomi is no longer a second-class citizen in the smartphone world, it is a company that has the potential to take on giants like Samsung, Apple and Huawei. And over the years the Chinese technology start-up has grown to become one of the largest smartphone vendors in the world, thanks to its innovative and feature-rich smartphones that don't break the bank.

Last year, Xiaomi showed us a really interesting smartphone design in the form of the China-only Mi MIX Alpha where the display wraps the phone all the way from the front to the back. Xiaomi also has some really interesting patents like the clamshell foldable smartphone design that is very likely to get to see the light of the day sometime later this year. Now, another Xiaomi patent has surfaced online, one that shows something that we've never seen before.

Xiaomi's new pop-up camera design

Xiaomi has patented three new smartphone pop-up camera designs with CNIPA (China National Intellectual Property Administration), giving an idea of just how far we can stretch with the hardware of a phone.

The patent designs show both the front and back-facing cameras on the same pop-up mechanism, with the design 1 having a pop-up camera system with 2 selfie camera sensors at the front and 2 rear cameras at the back of the same pop-up module.

7 sensors in one pop-up mechanism

Design 2 and 3 reveal the same 2 selfie cameras setup at the front, but with triple cameras at the back for design 2 and a penta (5) camera setup at the rear for design 3. The pop-up mechanism is unusually wide and occupies most of the space above the screen, but design 3 with a total of 7 cameras – 2 at the front and 5 at the back – seems to make the best use of the size of the pop-up mechanism.

Pop-ups are not dead yet, at least that's what the patent suggests

Having said that, many brands, including OnePlus, are ditching the pop-up camera system for the more practical hole-punch display design. But this is an interesting design by Xiaomi because by placing the rear cameras within the pop-up mechanism would mean the back of the phone can have a clean look without any visible sensors, as the cameras would hide inside the phone when the pop-up goes down or when the camera is not in use.

Also, the back of the phone will be seamless and completely flush due to the absence of a protruding camera bump. However, it is just a patent and like most patents that don't actually make it to the production line, we may never get to see this solution on a phone, but we are happy that Xiaomi is trying to come up with innovative ideas that actually make sense.