Phones

An in-depth look at dual camera systems on smartphones

Since the introduction of the Camera Technology on smartphones, developers have put in more work, by improving them and it just keeps getting better.

The Dual camera technology being the latest trend appears to be doing well with users that can’t seem to get enough of the feature.

We’ve seen the technology on HTC’s EVO 3D and One m8 handset in a weird 3D setting. Following that, LG introduced the feature in a wide-angle lens on its G5 device, all in the same year.

Even before we could get enough of the technology on LG’s G5 smartphone, Apple decided to take things up a notch by adding a telephoto lens on the iPhone 7 Plus.

As if that it isn’t enough, Huawei also decided to tweak things up by bringing Leica branded monochrome camera on its P9 smartphone.

Some of us might be wondering, just how many dual camera technologies are there and how they work differently. In here you’ll understand the different types of dual camera systems on smartphones and they function.

The Depth Sensor
We’ll kick things off with the most basic form of a dual camera system which is the ‘’depth sensor.’’ In here, the system comes with a primary camera paired with a second camera. The second camera, however, has only one function, which is 3D mapping the area in front of the camera.

As we all know, seeing things in 3D is as a result of both our eyes having a slight difference in perspectives that express the depth of images close to us in the simplest possible form.

Similarly, the secondary camera also interprets in a rough manner, the distance of objects in front of it, which is then used to separate the foreground field from the background.

This technique is commonly used to create a shallow depth of field effect that comes as a default feature on DSLR cameras given their big sensors and big lenses.


Small-sized handset cameras, on the other hand, cannot be used to attain the same shallow depth of field.
While the ‘’depth sensor’’ is one of the most uncommon types of dual camera systems out there, HTC’s One m8 was the first popular handset to offer the feature.

Apart from HTC’s One m8 device, we also the technology on other smartphone brands including Honor 6X, Lenovo K8 Plus.

The Monochrome Camera
Also under the dual camera system is the Monochrome camera, that is a slightly more popular implementation of the secondary sensor. This method features a primary camera that is usually accompanied by another identical secondary camera.

The cameras usually come with identical sensors, apertures, lenses and focusing modules. The main difference between the two is the fact that the second sensor does not come with an RGB color filter.

As a result of one less thing blocking the sensor, it can’t take color information but on the upside, the monochrome camera can capture more light.

For every picture taken, the camera system puts together the output of both cameras by forming them into one image.


The two combined images will possess a greater item and reduced noise. In an alternating manner, you can capture from the monochrome camera and get a quality that is slightly better at the cost of all the color information.

We see an example of this system offered on Huawei’s P9 handset and since then, only a few other devices have incorporated their smartphones with it.

The Wide-Angle Camera
The wide-angle camera made its first appearance on the LG’s G5 handset in the first quarter of last year. As the name suggests, a wide-angle camera was first seen on LG’s G5 handset that came with a 16 megapixel, 29mm tantamount f1.8 primary camera and 8 megapixels, 12mm tantamount f2.4 secondary camera.

As it turns out, the 12mm focal length brought a wide-field of view on the secondary camera that lets a user take a much wider field without having to move back, or shoot exciting perspectives yielded by such a wide-angle lens.

As far we can tell, this particular camera system has only been seen on LG mobile devices, and the company’s latest Moto X4 also sporting the technology.


One cool thing about the wide-angle lens is the fact that it brings a perspective that is one of a kind which comes with only a few smartphones in our world today.

You can capture a large group of people from a close distance as well as stunning looking images that you wouldn’t get on other smartphones.

The Telephoto Camera
The telephoto is the most widely used dual camera system which comes with a primary camera coupled with a second camera that offers a telephoto lens.

Notably, this dual-camera configuration is the direct exact opposite of the wide-angle, such that it allows you to zoom into your field instead of zooming out.

After Apple released the iPhone 7 Plus, handset developers have been using a 2x factor for the second telephoto lens.

This brings the secondary lens with a two-focal length of the primary lens, which allows you to take an instant 2x optical zoom.

While Zooming effect on handsets has been largely digital, the Telephoto camera brings a 2x lossless optical zoom which allows you to quickly move 2x closer to your subject without losing much quality.


Knowing about dual-camera systems and how they work is very important for smartphone users that value the use of the camera feature.

Sooner or later you might want to shoot a video that requires the use of a particular type of dual camera systems. And with this information, you should have no problem settling for what you suits you the best.

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