This Year's Camera Trend for Smartphones will be Dual Cameras and it's likely to Debut on the iPhone 7 Plus
Smartphone part suppliers are ramping up competition to develop better next-generation technologies that will support wide-angle and 3D photography, iris recognition other features as the industry trend for 2016 will be for cameras that go far beyond the mere promotion of higher pixel counts. The new dual camera trend is being promoted heavily by Korea's major camera module developers such as MCNEX and Namuga. LG Innotec already has such a unit on the market today. It's now being report that Samsung Electro-Mechanics is preparing to enter mass-production for dual-cameras later this year. These developers are developing dual-cameras because many smartphone manufacturers are designing their next-gen higher end models to offer dual cameras in 2016.
Out of South Korean Smartphones, LG Electronics' V10 was the first offer a smartphone with a dual-camera in Q4 2015 using the LG Innotec camera system. LG Electronics' next flagship Smartphone called the G5, which will debut in March, will also have a backside dual-camera.
We first covered Intel's RealSense technology before it was branded as such back in January 2014. More recently we covered Intel's CEO Krzanich revealing that a RealSense 3D camera would be coming to a smartphone this fall back in April during IDF China.
According to Intel's CEO Krzanich, "The RealSense Camera harnesses the power of human sight on a computing device. It not only creates a great image, but it measures the depth and relative position of all the objects in its field of view. Google is looking to promote this feature with Android OEMs in 2016. It's part of their Project Tango Project that got derailed in 2014 because Apple acquired Israeli firm PrimeSense that was to supply the Android OEM ecosystem with the needed dual camera systems.
If Apple has the technology for a high-end dual camera system, will that mean that Apple will be introducing this feature in 2016? While we were hoping to see this feature on Apple's latest 6s line-up last year based on a first round of rumors, there's a new rumor out today that pegs this feature for Apple's iPhone 7 Plus.
Apple's dual camera system is likely to carefully merge the best technologies from both PrimeSense and their other acquired Israeli company LinX.
We reported last April that "LinX cameras are significantly smaller than any camera on the market today, leading the way to DSLR performance in slim handsets. The LinX cameras not only capture 2D images but also acquire very accurate depth information of the complete scene." LinX further noted that their cameras "allow Apps to freely use the 3D information captured by our camera to achieve amazing new features such as the ability to refocus an image after it has been captured, measurement of the true dimensions of objects, 3D object modeling and real time background replacement for video calls." As noted below, LinX had created duo, trio and 4x camera systems and it's unknown which Apple may consider for the iPhone 7 model or beyond.
Other points from the Korean report worth noting are that dual camera system features will be able to reduce the time needed to focus on an image along with introducing next generation security and authentication systems. In fact HP is now offering Intel's RealSense camera that's in sync with the Windows 10 Windows Hello feature on their next-gen all-in-one desktop model today. It's an authentication system using facial recognition software instead of biometrics like Apple's Touch ID. So it's not just for mobile devices.
So will this finally be the year for dual camera systems on smartphones and desktops? Yes – and the iPhone 7 Plus just might be the first device in Apple's product line to introduce it later this year.