Meitu’s new phone includes a dual pixel front camera and AI-powered beautification

Selfie app and phone company Meitu has unveiled its latest smartphone, which doubles down its focus on selfie cameras and beautification.

Meitu went public in December with a Hong Kong listing that was fairly tepid but nevertheless the country’s largest tech IPO since 2007. It started out making selfie apps but branched into selling ‘selfie-optimized’ smartphones in 2013. Today it unveiled its latest flagship — the Meitu T8 — which includes a DSLR-like front-facing camera and uses AI to offer ‘advanced beautification.’

The idea of beautifying your photos — smoothing out your wrinkles, lightening/darkening skin as preferred, etc — seems pretty extreme in Western circles, but its the principle that has turned Meitu into a $4 billion company. Its suit of Android and iOS are anchored on a desire to touch up appearances, and they are hugely popular. According to Meitu’s IPO prospectus, its apps — which span photo editing, make-up and streaming — are used by more than 450 million people and process over six billion images per month. They recently got some viral headwind in the U.S., after which it was soon discovered that the core Meitu app collects large amounts of user data.

The Meitu T8 takes these principles to a new level. Dubbed “the world’s smartest selfie phone,” Meitu said that its beautification service is powered by artificial intelligence which can sense how it can touch up photos for different people.

“Instead of the boring skin smoothening and whitening functions that make everyone look the same, [the phone] is capable of optimizing skin colors in a customized way, making sure that the color of the face and the neck stays decently similar,” Meitu CTO Zhang Wei explained to TechCrunch, adding that the feature can apply different types of edits to photos that include multiple people.

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Meitu provide a series of selfies it claimed compares the T8 with other devices

But beyond just the editing, the T8 also comes with some pretty powerful cameras.

The rear-facing camera packs a 21 megapixel camera, while there’s a 12 dual pixel front-facing camera which Meitu said includes OIS (Optical Image Stabilization, its proprietary noise-reducing ISP and smart fill light — all of which is aimed at capturing selfies. Its rare to see OIS, which featured in Apple’s iPhone 6 plus, make it into a front-mounted camera. Dual pix lenses, meanwhile, are a staple of DSLR cameras and have appeared in some phones — like the Samsung Galaxy S7 — but usually as part of the rear camera.

Spec-wise, there’s a 5.2-inch AMOLED screen, a 2.3GHz processor, 4GB RAM, and 128GB of internal storage. The device charges via USB-C and it does include a headphone jack.

The device is available in China from today. It’s priced at 3299 RMB ($479) with a special edition version endorsed by celebrity Angelababy for 3599 RMB ($522). There’s no word on an international release, which won’t surprise anyone familiar with Meitu and other Chinese phone makers.