Here's why smartphones have multiple cameras
A Lenovo executive posted a simple picture to Weibo: Four camera lenses, arranged in a square.
Yup, Lenovo seems to be hinting that they’re about to show off a phone with four cameras.
Steve Jobs reportedly didn’t even want a camera on the first iPhone. But not only do we expect every smartphone to have a camera now, we also have a very high standard for the pictures they take: Sharper, brighter, more colorful, more details in low-light, and all at the tap of a button.
But handset makers can’t just bolt on a huge DSLR lens. They still have to keep phones small and thin enough to slip into a pocket. How do you improve on a phone’s camera without making it significantly bigger?
Yup, more cameras.
And the idea isn’t new. The first handsets with two cameras started appearing in 2011. It’s so long ago that they were created to snap 3D photos. (Remember when 3D was a thing?)
So having more cameras produces better pictures. But what do they actually do?
Some help you zoom in closer, while others let you capture more detail in a photo. Put together, they make for a more versatile smartphone camera.
At the end of the day though, it’s entirely possible to make a great camera phone with only one single rear lens, as the widely acclaimed Google Pixel 2 showed us. What it lacks in camera quantity, it makes up for with smarter software. It’s entirely possible that instead of more cameras, if other companies follow Google’s lead, we may actually see fewer cameras in the years ahead.
But don’t forget, some cameras can do more than just capturing great shots. The iPhone X put two cameras on the front -- not to take photos, but to unlock the phone. The TrueDepth camera system on the iPhone X uses an infrared camera to track thousands of invisible dots, creating a 3D map of your face -- allowing users to unlock their phones with Face ID or create custom Memoji.