Without a shadow of a doubt, smartphone cameras have evolved to a stage that we would not have believed was possible a decade ago. What started out as handsets running tailor-made software and shipped with single rear sensors at the back and front has now reached a plateau where such devices feature a multitude of optical units on both ends. These improvements have likely led to a Qualcomm VP claiming that smartphone cameras will outperform DLSRs in five years.
Qualcomm Executive Also Claims That the Processing in Snapdragon Chipsets Is 10-Times Better Than What Is Done on Those Bulky Cameras
In an interview with Android Authority, Judd Heape, the Vice President of Product Management for Camera, Computer Vision, and Video at Qualcomm, believes that smartphone sensors will see a new dawn, though that journey could take up to half a decade.
“We’re three to five years away from reaching the holy grail of AI photography.”
One of the biggest limitations of smartphone cameras compared to DLSR units is the sensor’s physical size. No amount of cutting-edge engineering can allow mobile devices to tout larger sensors, so where hardware becomes a bottleneck, providing image quality improvements through software becomes the next step. According to the Qualcomm executive, the chipset maker’s Snapdragon line can process 10-times better compared to cameras developed and sold by major brands by Nikon and Canon.
“The processing in Snapdragon is 10 times better than what you can find on the biggest and baddest Nikon and Canon cameras. And that’s why we’re able to really push the barrier on image quality. Because even though we have a small lens and small image sensor, we’re doing many, many times more processing than what’s even capable in a DSLR.”
Just a couple of years ago, smartphone brands started introducing the term ‘AI’ to their products, stating how the image’s quality level is raised a few notches with the help of artificial intelligence. Qualcomm’s Judd Heape implies that AI is a significant contributor and will continue to see refinement to the point where it can identify and alter smaller objects, such as hair.
“Going forward in the future, we see a lot more AI capability to understand the scene, to understand the difference between skin and hair, and fabric and background and that sort of thing. And all those pixels being handled differently in real-time, not just post-processing a couple of seconds after the snapshot is taken but in real-time during like a camcorder video shoot.”
So far, the biggest sensor found in a smartphone has a size of 1-inch when measured diagonally, and with a little effort, Heape believes they can go beyond this threshold. Unfortunately, he did not specify how long it would take, so it is obvious that we should not keep waiting patiently for a 1.25-inch or 1.5-inch sensor to arrive next year or the year after.
“In the direct near term, no, I don’t see us going above one inch. But in the future, yes, we can probably get there.”
The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is Qualcomm’s upcoming flagship SoC and is said to arrive with a ton of improvements, including one in the ISP department, according to one tipster. We are excited to see what developments are made when Qualcomm officially announces it, and we will have a glimpse of the efforts Heape that the team has contributed toward smartphone camera sensors.
News Source: Android Authority