Qualcomm Imaging Head States That Smartphones With 100MP Camera Sensors Will Arrive Later This Year
A handful of smartphones on the market, including Honor View 20, Vivo V15 Pro, and Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 come with 48MP primary rear cameras but Judd Heape, Qualcomm’s Senior Director of Product Management, recently said that the pixel count can increase two-fold by the end of this year. While higher megapixel sensors may look good on paper, they have their own issues.
Higher Pixel Count Will Require Smartphone OEMs to Sacrifice Other Features Such as Noise Reduction
According to Heape, next year’s smartphones might come with 100MP or 150MP sensors. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 600-series, 700-series, and 800-series of chipsets can support camera sensors as high as 192MP but there are certain trade-offs that come with increasing the pixel count. For instance, OEMs will have to disable features such as zero-shutter lag and multi-frame noise reduction to be able to touch the upper limit and this will affect picture quality.
Smartphone makers will try to reduce the size of individual pixels to add more pixels without drastically increasing the size of camera sensors. Even then, Heaper thinks the size of sensors can get as high as 1-inch in the future, allowing these sensors to capture more light. Moreover, the quality of low-light photographs can be compromised because of the smaller pixel size. To counter that, smartphone makers use pixel-binning technology currently to combine 4 small pixels into one pixel.
However, the end result is low-resolution pictures as the output resolution will be reduced by a factor of 4. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing as with higher megapixels sensor, better sharpness, clarity, and a higher dynamic range can be achieved. Other things that would have to be taken into consideration are power consumption and size. Moreover, larger sensors would also require larger focal length lenses, which will not just make smartphones thicker but also make it difficult to integrate lenses properly so that they do not stick out, or form a ‘hump’ at the back of the device.
As Google and Samsung have shown, even camera systems with a 12MP main sensor can achieve stunning, detailed images with low noise, even in low-light environments. On the other hand, Huawei’s and Xiaomi’s phones with high-resolution cameras also churn out above-satisfactory results. Ultimately, OEMs will have to work out what the optimum level of smartphone imaging is, but that will take a lot of experimentation so be ready to see phones with ridiculously high megapixel cameras later this year.