Samsung’s latest imaging sensors may rid smartphones of camera bumps

As Apple, Samsung and (perhaps, surprisingly) Google battle to claim the top spot in smartphone imaging, we’ve been left with lenses jutting out of the device, or in the case of the Note 8, a thicker phone. The iPhone 8 and Pixel 2 may be the latest offenders, but Samsung thinks its latest imaging sensor can keep things slim with its duo of new ISOCELL sensors: two different components with different selling points.

Its 12-megapixel Fast 2L9 sensor uses “Dual Pixel” tech to speed up its auto-focus, shrinking pixels to 1.28μm, down from 1.4μm in its predecessor. And what the heck does that mean? It should improve improve the speed it takes for future smartphones to focus, as well as the ability for the camera to keep locked-on and track moving objects. Samsung promises this is all possible in low light too, vowing that it’ll keep your next (presumably Galaxy-branded) smartphone bump-free, while also delivering ‘bokeh’ depth of focus effects with just a single lens.

The ISOCELL Slim 2X7, like its name suggests, will be able to slide itself into even more slender smartphone designs, despite its meatier 24-megapixel spec. It’s the first mobile image sensor to have a pixel size below 1.0μm — 0.9μm apparently, helping shrink that sensor size, but keeping color fidelity and low noise thanks to Samsung’s improvements with its ISOCELL tech and pixel isolation.The Slim is also built for improved low-light photography. It does so by combining four neighbouring pixels to work as one, increasing light sensitivity. It’ll still be able to tap into all 24 megapixels when lighting conditions are better. Samsung pitches it as a sensor that works at its best, regardless of how much light’s around.

Ben K. Hur, Vice President of System LSI Marketing at Samsung Electronics says in the release that the sensors are “highly versatile as they can be placed in both front and rear of a smartphone.” Better selfies too, then.

Source: Samsung

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Pretend you still need film with Yashica’s digital camera

Yashica has unveiled a new camera on Kickstarter that seems to offer the worst parts of both film and digital cameras. The digiFilm camera forces you to load a film-like cartridge that sets the look of your images to match real analog film. For instance, the 1,600 ISO cartridge lets you shoot in low light with high contrast, while the ISO 400 black and white applies a filter that removes all colors. You even have to “wind” the camera before each usage.

The idea is to provide an analog experience with digital tech — once you load the ISO 400 B&W cartridge, you can’t shoot in color, for instance. And the winding forces you to slow down and perhaps concentrate harder on each shot, hopefully yielding better pictures at the end.

The camera otherwise seems, and looks, pretty cheap and plasticky compared to iconic Yashica cameras of yore (the trademark was purchased by Hong Kong’s Jebsen Group). It has a tiny-ish 1/3.2-inch sensor, 35mm equivalent f/2.8 lens, and minimum focus distance of about a meter (3.2 feet). On top of the two mentioned, you can also get ISO 200 ultra fine and old-school square 120 format cartridges. Oddly, they don’t store the digital photos — you still need an SD card for that.

The price is 1,108 HK$ ($ 142) with two cartridges, or 1,248 HK$ ($ 160) with all four. The closest thing I can think of to the Yashica model is the Gudak app for the iPhone that makes you wait three days before you can “develop” your digital photos.

In other words, it’s a pretty gimmicky way of recreating the analog experience. But what do I know? The Yashica digiFilm has already quintupled its Kickstarter goal, earning over $ 650,000 to date, with 39 days still left in the campaign. If you’re interested, remember that Kickstarter projects don’t always pan out.

Via: Design Taxi

Source: Yashica (Kickstarter)

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Galaxy Note 8 and iPhone 8 Plus tie for top spot in camera test

Like it or not, DxOMark is currently the go-to tester for smartphone camera quality. Companies will even base their marketing around its scores. As such, it’s a big deal when the outfit declares a new winner… and it just declared two. DxOMark has given Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 an overall score of 94, putting it in a tie for the lead with the iPhone 8 Plus. No, that’s not going to trigger endless fan wars, is it? Of course, diving into the scores reveals that the devices reached their scores through different means.

The Note 8’s advantages chiefly come through its secondary camera, relatively noiseless low-light photography and lightning-quick autofocus. Of the two, Samsung’s phone is the one you’d want for portraits or capturing a fast-moving scene. The iPhone, on the other hand, has exceptional high dynamic range performance, accurate face exposure and great overall video performance, particularly with stabilization. And both have their weak points, as you might imagine. The Note 8 has a fairly limited dynamic range that results in lost detail in extreme situations, and has white balance problems in bright lighting or indoors. Apple’s device occasionally struggles with autofocus, doesn’t always nail the color cast in low lighting and has visible noise in low-light video.

The question is: how much does this influence your choice of device? Frankly, it’s complicated. Some of it clearly depends on personal preference based on your photography habits: you may pick the iPhone if you prefer a more accurate color range, or the Note 8 if you enjoy low-light shooting. This also assumes you treat DxOMark’s scores as canonical — it can’t account for every situation with tests, and it may downplay factors that you consider crucial. And of course, there’s the simple matter of liking the rest of the phone. If you’re a hardcore Android or iOS fan, even the best camera in history probably wouldn’t convince you to switch sides.

Source: DxOMark (Note 8), (iPhone 8 Plus)

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Insta360 One is a 4K 360 camera with smart tricks

For those who haven’t been following, earlier Insta360 released a montage of cool sample clips to tease its upcoming camera’s bullet-time video capability. What baffled me at the time was how those slow-motion shots orbited around a person with his upright arm seemingly holding onto something, except there was no visible string nor selfie stick to suggest that the camera was being swung around. Well, as it turns out, I was wrong, but there’s no need to be disappointed — it actually takes a lot more than just a piece of string to achieve this bullet-time effect.

The camera, which has just been unveiled as the Insta360 One, is the latest 360 camera designed to deceive naive folks like myself. This is the company’s second 4K-capable compact device following the aptly-named Insta360 4K but at about half the price — just $ 299.90. The One shoots video at either 3,840 x 1,920 at 30 fps or 2,560 x 1,280 at 60 fps, both with LOG format option which is a first for a consumer 360 camera; and it can take 24-megapixel stills (6,912 x 3,456) with RAW format option — another first for a consumer 360 camera — followed by HDR capture at a later date.

Unlike the older model, the One lacks WiFi connectivity for remote view, but it does come with an 8GB microSD card to get you started. Sports fans will also be delighted to know that the One has an optional IP68 waterproof housing that’s good for depths of up to 30-meter or about 98.4 feet.

Much like the 3K-only Nano, the One can be used as a standalone 360 camera (using the power button or via Bluetooth) or as an iPhone dongle using its retractable Lightning plug (an Android version is due to arrive by the end of the year). It’s also gained a couple of new use methods. For one, the kit comes with a short plastic tube that houses the device on the deeper end to protect its two lenses, while the shallower end lets you mount the device so that the tube can be used as a stand. Alternatively, you can also mount the camera on any standard tripod, monopod, selfie stick or even the bundled string attachment using its 1/4″-20 screw thread.

Needless to say, one of the main selling points of the One is the aforementioned bullet time mode. This trick is a combination of the device’s six-axis image stabilization, powerful 120 fps capture at 2,048 x 512 (which can be boosted to 240 fps via interpolation using the companion app), some video magic to erase evidence of tethering plus a little bit of manual work using one arm. Once the power button’s triple-tap toggle has been mapped to bullet time capture (via settings in the app), simply mount the One on the bundled string attachment or an optional selfie stick, turn it on, tap its power button three times and then start swinging it above your head at a modest pace (with the risk of getting funny looks from folks nearby). When done, simply hit the power button once to stop recording, and then you can plug the camera into your iPhone for playback, editing and exporting to 720p clips.

Perhaps an even more useful feature coming from the One is its app’s FreeCapture tool — a “shoot first, point later” concept that’s clearly going after the upcoming GoPro Fusion’s OverCapture feature. This one’s super easy: just load up a 360 clip in FreeCapture mode, treat your phone as if it’s a conventional video camera at the time of capture (this relies on the phone’s gyroscope), then simply pan around and zoom in or out — all the way to the cute “tiny planet” view, if you want — as you desire for your new “director’s cut” in 1080p. Similarly, there’s a SmartTrack editing tool that can automatically output a 1080p clip based on the subject that you want to be tracked in a 360 clip.

For existing Insta360 users who already have a library of fun 360 clips, a company rep pointed out that you can actually side-load any 360 clip from older cameras to the One’s microSD card, in order to tinker with it using FreeCapture. That said, there are currently no plans to update the other cameras’ apps with FreeCapture, which is all the more reason for existing Insta360 users to upgrade to the One.

As cool as the sample clips look, what remains to be seen is how well these features — especially bullet time — actually work when mere mortals like us give them a go. Alas, the pre-production unit we received didn’t get on well with my iPhone 6 due to the app’s beta nature, so I haven’t been able to upload any of my 360 content. More worryingly, the string attachment I got was apparently flawed and thus rendering all of my bullet-time attempts useless, so unless you really want to get one as soon as middle of next month, you may want to wait until our replacement unit arrives and see how it fares.

Source: Insta360

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Meet the small 360 camera module that will fit into phones

You’re probably not aware of this, but a Chinese company dubbed ProTruly has already released the world’s first two smartphones with a built-in 360 camera last December. Don’t worry if you missed the news, because chances are you’d be put off by the devices’ sheer bulkiness, but according to HT Optical, this may no longer be the case with the next release. At MWC Shanghai, I came across this Wuhan-based company which happened to be the 360 camera module supplier of not just ProTruly, but also of Xiaomi for its recent Mi Sphere Camera.

As I was mocking the ridiculousness of the ProTruly Darling phones displayed at the booth, HT Optical’s Vice President Shu Junfeng pulled me to a side and gave me a sneak peek at what’s coming next: a much smaller 360 camera module that can fit into a 7.6mm-thick smartphone, yet it’ll take 16-megapixel stills — a massive jump from, say, the Insta360 Air dongle’s 4.5-megapixel resolution, and also a tad more than the latest Samsung Gear 360’s 15-megapixel offering.

Future “VR smartphones” will look much less ridiculous than this ProTruly Darling.

I wasn’t sure whether it was excitement or skepticism that my face expressed upon hearing this claim, but it prompted Shu to show me some photos — which he wasn’t able to share for this article — of an upcoming smartphone that will feature this new module. Indeed, the device looked more like a conventional smartphone, as opposed to the 8.9mm-thick and 181.4mm-tall ProTruly Darling pictured above (and just for reference, the iPhone 7 Plus is 7.3mm thick and 158.2mm tall).

Also, the lenses on this mysterious phone’s module apparently add just an extra 1mm to the overall thickness, which means the camera will be less of an annoyance during phone calls or when placed in our pockets. This still doesn’t stop either lens from touching whatever surface you place the phone on, but Shu assured me that these lenses will feature a tough scratch resistant coating on the lenses.

Shu then showed me what he claimed to be a 16-megapixel 360 still taken with that new camera module, and the image was surprisingly sharp for such a tiny module. Needless to say, I was able to zoom into that image much further than I would with the photos from my Insta360 Air. While there was no sample video to show me, the exec said this little module can shoot 4K videos which is also impressive. I guess we’ll see more when this phone launches in China on July 30th.

As a firm that used to deal with camera makers like Sony and Olympus, HT Optical has dabbled with other kinds of product categories following the decline of the compact digital camera market. On top of the smartphone VR camera, I was also intrigued by the company’s phone cases with integrated optical zoom camera. The one highlighted above comes with 5x optical zoom, for instance, and it has its own microSD slot. It’s a similar idea to the Hasselblad MotoMod for Moto Z series, except you can plug any iPhone or Android phone — depending on the plug type — into this one. As a bonus, thanks to their built-in battery, the cases can capture images by themselves when needed, so long as you’re comfortable with the lack of a viewfinder.

It’s hard to tell whether this type of phone case will ever take off, but for the smartphone VR camera module, Shu reckoned it’ll take at least a year or two before it becomes a mainstream feature. For now, he’s happy to focus on working with the smaller mobile brands that tend to be more daring.

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The best wireless outdoor home security camera

By Rachel Cericola

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. When readers choose to buy The Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here.

After spending almost three months looking, listening, adjusting angles, and deleting over 10,000 push notifications and emails, we’ve decided that the Netgear Arlo Pro is the best DIY outdoor Wi-Fi home security camera you can get. Like the other eight units we tested, the Arlo Pro lets you keep an eye on your property and provides smartphone alerts whenever there’s motion. However, it’s one of the few options with built-in rechargeable batteries to make it completely wireless, so it’s easy to place and move. It also delivers an excellent image, clear two-way audio, practical smart-home integration, and seven days of free cloud storage.

Who should get this

A Wi-Fi surveillance camera on your front porch, over your garage, or attached to your back deck can provide a peek at what really goes bump in the night, whether that’s someone stealing packages off your steps or raccoons going through garbage cans. It can alert you to dangers and can create a record of events. It should also help you to identify someone—and if it’s a welcome or unwelcome guest—or just let you monitor pets or kids when you’re not out there with them.

How we picked and tested

Photo: Rachel Cericola

During initial research, we compiled a huge list of outdoor security cameras recommended by professional review sites like PCMag, Safewise, and Safety.com, as well as those available on popular online retailers. We then narrowed this list by considering only Wi-Fi–enabled cameras that will alert your smartphone or tablet whenever motion is detected. We also clipped out all devices that required a networked video recorder (NVR) to capture video, focusing only on products that could stand alone.

Once we had a list of about 27 cameras, we went through Amazon and Google to see what kind of feedback was available. We ultimately decided on a test group based on price, features, and availability.

We mounted our test group to a board outside of our New England house, pointed them at the same spot, and exposed them all to the same lighting conditions and weather. The two exceptions were cameras integrated into outdoor lighting fixtures, both of which were installed on the porch by my husband, a licensed electrician. All nine cameras were connected to the same Verizon FiOS network via a Wi-Fi router indoors.

Besides good Wi-Fi, you may also need a nearby outlet. Only three of the cameras we tested offered the option to use battery power. Most others required an AC connection, which means you won’t be able to place them just anywhere.

We downloaded each camera’s app to an iPhone 5, an iPad, and a Samsung Galaxy S6. The cameras spent weeks guarding our front door, alerting us to friends, family members, packages, and the milkman. Once we got a good enough look at those friendly faces, we tilted the entire collection outward to see what sort of results we got facing the house across the street, which is approximately 50 feet away. To learn more about how we picked and tested, please see our full guide.

Our pick

The Arlo Pro can handle snow, rain, and everything else, and runs for months on a battery charge. Photo: Rachel Cericola

The Arlo Pro is a reliable outdoor Wi-Fi camera that’s compact and completely wireless, thanks to a removable, rechargeable battery that, based on our testing, should provide at least a couple of months of operation on a charge. It’s also the only device on our list that offers seven days of free cloud storage, and packs in motion- and audio-triggered recordings for whenever you get around to reviewing them.

The Arlo Pro requires a bridge unit, known as the Base Station, which needs to be powered and connected to your router. The Base Station is the brains behind the system, but also includes a piercing 100-plus–decibel siren, which can be triggered manually through the app or automatically by motion and/or audio.

With a 130-degree viewing angle and 720p resolution, the Arlo Pro provided clear video footage during both day and night, and the two-way audio was easy to understand on both ends. The system also features the ability to set rules, which can trigger alerts for motion and audio. You can adjust the level of sensitivity so that you don’t get an alert or record a video clip every time a car drives by. You can also set up alerts based on a schedule or geofencing using your mobile device, but you can’t define custom zones for monitoring. All of those controls are easy to find in the Arlo app, which is available for iOS and Android devices.

If you’re looking to add the Arlo Pro to a smart-home system, the camera currently works with Stringify, Wink, and IFTTT (“If This Then That”). SmartThings certification was approved and will be included in a future app update. The Arlo Pro is also compatible with ADT Canopy for a fee.

Runner-up

The Nest Cam Outdoor records continuously and produces better images than most of the competition, but be prepared to pay extra for features other cameras include for free. Photo: Rachel Cericola

The Nest Cam Outdoor is a strong runner-up. It records continuous 1080p video, captures to the cloud 24/7, and can actually distinguish between people and other types of motion. Like the Nest thermostat, the Outdoor Cam is part of the Works With Nest program, which means it can integrate with hundreds of smart-home products. It’s also the only model we tested that has a truly weatherproof cord. However, that cord and the ongoing subscription cost, which runs $ 100 to $ 300 per year for the Nest Aware service, is what kept the Nest Cam Outdoor from taking the top spot.

Like our top pick, the Nest Cam Outdoor doesn’t have an integrated mount. Instead, the separate mount is magnetic, so you can attach and position the camera easily. Although it has a lot of flexibility in movement, it needs to be placed within reach of an outlet, which can be a problem outside the house. That said, the power cord is quite lengthy. The camera has a 10-foot USB cable attached, but you can get another 15 feet from the included adapter/power cable.

The Nest Cam Outdoor’s 1080p images and sound were extremely impressive, both during the day and at night. In fact, this camera delivered some of the clearest, most detailed images during our testing, with a wide 130-degree field of view and an 8x digital zoom.

The Nest app is easy to use and can integrate with other Nest products, such as indoor and outdoor cameras, the Nest thermostat, and the Nest Protect Smoke + CO detector. You can set the camera to turn on and off at set times of day, go into away mode based on your mobile device’s location, and more.

This guide may have been updated by The Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

Note from The Wirecutter: When readers choose to buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn affiliate commissions that support our work.

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Microsoft Pix Camera imitates Prisma with its AI-powered filters

Microsoft Pix Camera uses artificial intelligence to make your pictures of people better. It uses algorithms behind the scenes to analyze the 10 frames it snaps for every picture you take, looking for sharpness, exposure and even facial expressions to make sure you get the very best shot. It even takes good data from the pictures it doesn’t use to enhance the photos it chooses. The app, launched last summer and just updated, now offers new filters that can help you make your photos look like real works of art.

These artsy filters may sound a lot like what standalone app, Prisma, does, but Microsoft’s implementation was developed by Microsoft’s Asia research lab in collaboration with Skype. According to a company blog post, Pix Styles use texture, pattern, and tones learned by deep neural networks from famous works of art instead of altering the photo uniformly like other similar apps. Microsoft researcher Josh Weisberg told Engadget that the app uses two different techniques, run in tandem to save time, to produce these effects. “Our approach lends itself to styles based on source images (that are used to train the network) that are not paintings, such as the fire effect,” he said in an email.

The initial 11 Styles filters are named Glass, Petals, Bacau, Charcoal, Heart, Fire, Honolulu, Zing, Pop, Glitter and Ripples — more will be added in the coming weeks. Pix Paintings creates a timeline of your picture as if it were being painted in real time, giving you a short video of its creation. The Paintings feature is accessed with a button that shows up when you apply a new Style, and you can share or save the resulting short video (or GIF) it makes, too.

“These are meant to be fun features,” said Microsoft’s Josh Weisberg in a blog post. “In the past, a lot of our efforts were focused on using AI and deep learning to capture better moments and better image quality. This is more about fun. I want to do something cool and artistic with my photos.”

All this AI magic works right on your iPhone or iPad and won’t access the cloud, saving your data plan and decreasing your wait time. You can still use Pix’s other features with the new styles, adding frames and cropping your still photos. Microsoft Pix Camera is available now in the App Store and as a free update to existing owners, as well.

Source: Microsoft Blog, Microsoft/Twitter

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Xiaomi Mi 6 mimics the iPhone’s camera tricks without the bump

After the swanky limited edition Mi MIX, you’d think it’d be pretty hard for Xiaomi to top that with its next flagship phone, but the new Mi 6 unveiled today still had some tricks up its sleeve. First off, the company has revived the Mi 5’s awesome curved glass back design along with a special ceramic edition, and this time it’s complemented by a piece of 2.5D front glass panel plus two new color options: metallic blue and glossy silver. To my surprise, Xiaomi has also gone back to the more expensive stainless steel (as used on the Mi 4) instead of aluminum for the mid-frame: not only is it tougher, but it’s also more luxurious with that high-gloss finish — a much welcomed feature on the blue version’s gold-colored frame.

As per usual, Xiaomi has thrown in pretty much the best essential components for its latest flagship, though this time it’s a bit more generous than before. On top of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chipset there’s a whopping 6GB of LPDDR4x RAM instead of starting at 4GB, a base storage option of 64GB instead of just 32GB, a denser 3,350 mAh battery and an improved under-glass fingerprint reader on the front (though unlike the one on the Mi 5s, this one is capacitive rather than ultrasonic). Based on the display units at the launch event, the Mi 6 is powered by MIUI 8 based on Android 7.1.1 which is remarkably up to date.

What’s more surprising is that the Mi 6 is Xiaomi’s first splash-proof device thanks to the added internal seals, though the company avoided the word “waterproof” throughout the keynote. Indeed, the Mi 6’s product page states that it has yet been put through such certification tests, so you’ve been warned.

After the Redmi Pro and the Mi 5s Plus, Xiaomi is once again dabbling with a dual camera setup on the Mi 6. Rather than going with the increasingly common RGB + BW sensor pairing, this time Xiaomi has taken a page out of Apple’s book to pair a wide-angle lens with a telephoto lens for this 12-megapixel camera: the former has an f/1.8 aperture plus a 1.25um sensor, whereas the latter — effectively a 2x optical zoom — has an f/2.6 aperture with a 1um sensor. However, unlike the iPhone 7 Plus, the Mi 6’s dual camera is flush with the body; plus its wide-angle lens features 4-axis optical stabilization, meaning it’ll take better photos in low-light conditions.

Xiaomi also boasted its latest beautification algorithm which claims to produce more natural looks, and there’s also a portrait mode which automatically adds a bokeh effect. As for selfies, there’s an 8-megapixel front camera which takes advantage of the new beautification software as well.

Much like its two predecessors, the Mi 6 is sticking with the relatively humble 5.15-inch 1080p display spec, which is good news for those who prefer something more ergonomic. It’s a nice LCD, too: like before, you get a 94.4-percent NTSC gamut, a brightness ranging from 600 nit all the way down to 1 nit (with 4,096 levels in between), and an optimized blue light filter mode with reduced color cast.

On the audio side, it’s worth noting that Xiaomi decided to ditch the headphone jack for the Mi 6, with the reason being it wanted to offer a cleaner look (ugh), which is why you’ll find a USB-C to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter in the box. Similarly, there’s no fancy DAC chip here to satisfy audiophiles, though the phone does have a stereo loudspeaker implementation — using the earpiece as one of the two audio channels — similar to those used on recent HTC and Huawei devices for casual video-watching.

As with pretty much all Xiaomi products, the Mi 6 will only be available in China to begin with as of April 28th, with the 64GB model priced at 2,499 yuan (about $ 360) and the 128GB flavor at 2,899 yuan ($ 420). And for an extra 100 yuan ($ 15) you can get the 128GB ceramic edition with 18K gold rim around the main camera lenses. Alas, CEO Lei Jun said the silver edition isn’t quite ready for mass production; it’ll apparently be months before it’s finally ready.

Source: Xiaomi

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Oppo’s clever, zooming dual camera was inspired by periscopes

The dual-camera craze is real at Mobile World Congress, but Oppo decided to break from the pack with its own, very clever implementation. Long story short: the company managed to build a 5x “lossless” zoom system for smartphones using two sensors and a zoom mechanism inspired by periscopes. The latter part is nothing new, of course: ’tis a feature which was once common on compact digital cameras, and ASUS even applied this to its ZenFone Zoom last year. Oppo’s implementation, however, takes things up a notch.

See, Oppo’s telephoto lens is actually mounted horizontally inside the camera module and moves sideways through the top of a phone’s body. When you’re taking a photo, light enters the module and gets reflected by a prism into that waiting lens. Oppo’s optical image stabilization is similarly impressive, the prism and the telephoto lens move around to compensate for shaky hands on the fly.

Just keep this in mind: much like the ZenFone Zoom’s camera, the telephoto lens itself is capable of 3x optical zoom, and Oppo blends the images from the telephoto lens and a wide-angle lens next to it between 1x and 5x zoom. After 5x, it’s just the telephoto lens and digital zoom kicks in at some point between 5x and 10x. One wouldn’t normally associate digital zoom with “lossless” quality, but Oppo swears up and down that the system works like a charm. We’ll be the judges of that, thanks very much.

(Update: I just tried a demo version of the 5x camera in a tester phone, and it was pretty damned great. Oppo had a blind taste test going on, and while the disguised iPhone 7 Pluses had the edge in colors, the 5x camera produced much clearer results throughout the test.)

Anyway, Oppo’s design — which it licensed from another company and worked on independently for more than a year — makes for a camera module that’s only 5.7mm thick. It takes up a decent chunk of space in modern, super-slim smartphones, but we’re told many other 2x optical zoom lens setups are slightly thicker anyway. If Oppo’s photographic results are as good as the company claims, smartphone junkies in the company’s native China will probably go nuts. (Don’t forget: Oppo currently holds the number one spot in Chinese mobile market share and fourth worldwide.)

Chances to such a camera making it to parts of the world Oppo doesn’t service — like, say, the United States — aren’t nil. After all, the company licensed the original design from someone else, so it’s possible a more globally minded smartphone maker could take the same route. Then again, Oppo has filed about 50 patents to keep this particular approach locked down, so who knows. Hopefully we’ll get lucky someday.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from MWC 2017.

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Next iPhone might have depth-sensing front camera

It’s that time of year, folks. Rumors of what the next iPhone will be like are coming in hot and heavy. Last week, well-connected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo noted that the new handsets would nix the home button for a touch-friendly “function area.” Now there’s another bit of info. In a KGI Securities report detailed by 9to5Mac, the analyst explains that the upcoming OLED iPhone will feature a “revolutionary” front camera that’s capable of sensing 3D space via infrared.

More specifically, the report explains that the newfangled camera can combine depth information with 2D images for things like facial recognition, iris recognition and, perhaps most importantly, 3D selfies. Given the previous report about the home button being put out to pasture, there will need to be a replacement for Touch ID. Rumors indicate that either facial recognition or a fingerprint reader embedded in the display would assist with unlocking the device. This new report would point more to the former method.

The report also explains a bit about how the 3D front-facing camera would be used in gaming scenarios. The camera could be used to replace an in-game character’s head or face with that of the user and those 3D selfies could be destined for augmented reality.

It’s no surprise to get word of potential depth-sensing camera tech from Apple. The company nabbed PrimeSense in 2013, an outfit that co-developed the original Kinect for Xbox. This latest KGI report says PrimeSense algorithms will allow the hardware to depth and location of objects in its field of view. An earlier report from Fast Company explained that Apple was working with Lumentum to use its 3D-sensing tech on the next iPhone.

While the 3D camera will only be on the front side for now, Kuo says Apple will eventually employ the tech on around back as well. The report also explains that the company is way ahead of Android as far as 3D algorithms go, so a depth-sensing camera would be a unique feature for a couple of years. Of course, if the early rumors are true, you can expect to pay $ 1,000 for the 10th anniversary iPhone when it arrives.

Source: 9to5Mac

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