Qualcomm Camera And Computational Photography Tech Sets The Bar For Smartphones – Forbes

The Smartphone For Snapdragon Insiders, Built By ASUS
There is a common misconception that sensor size and megapixel counts are the most important considerations when assessing camera specs and image quality. While those two things are undeniably important for many professionals and photography enthusiasts, they are far less relevant than consumers are led to believe, especially as they relate to cutting-edge smartphone photography. Smartphones simply lack the physical size and real-estate to accommodate large sensors and there’s only so many pixels you can cram onto smartphone camera sensor before image quality is severely degraded in less than optimal lighting conditions. Smaller individual pixels on a camera sensor simply gather less light than larger pixels, which can negatively impact many aspects of image quality, especially when lighting isn’t ideal, yet smartphone photography is everywhere. To combat the inherent limitations of smaller camera sensors, quality optics, intelligent image processing and a number of computational photography techniques are paramount to achieve high-quality photographs and video. Qualcomm knows this and has systematically bolstered its mobile platforms over the years with image processing capabilities that are among the best in the industry.
Although its partners don’t always expose every possible photography or videography-related feature available in its Snapdragon mobile platforms, it’s clear that Qualcomm’s Spectra Image Signal Processor and its related software are capable of producing excellent photographs and video, especially when paired with modern sensors. Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon platforms featuring the Spectra 580 CV-ISP are outfitted with triple image signal processors — or Triple ISP – capable of processing a massive 2.7 gigapixels per second, which allows devices to leverage up to three independent cameras simultaneously. This capability opens up interesting possibilities, like smooth zooming between three different cameras, triple simultaneous image captures (up to 28MP each), multi-capture HDR composites, or even embedding front-facing video footage atop rear camera video, among many others. It is even possible to capture up to three 4K HDR videos simultaneously on devices that leverage Qualcomm’s Triple ISP. High-quality 8K video is also available on many of today’s flagship devices powered by the Snapdragon 888.
Snapdragon 888 Camera Highlights
One needs only to look at the photos produced on smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra or Google Pixel 5 to see what kind of high-quality images can be produced on a Snapdragon-powered, current-gen smartphone. However, it’s the ASUS-built Smartphone For Snapdragon Insiders that truly showcases what Qualcomm’s leading-edge imaging technology can do.
Despite a few camera-related specifications that seemingly trail some other flagship smartphones (at least on paper), the Smartphone For Snapdragon Insiders produces better images than most. In fact, with its latest OTA update, the Smartphone For Snapdragon insiders achieves a DXOMark score of 133, which is currently the best of any smartphone designed for the U.S. market and among the top smartphones in the world. For those that are unfamiliar, DXOMark Image Labs is a private firm that specializes in the measurement of camera, audio, display and battery quality for a myriad of consumer electronics.
The Smartphone For Snapdragon Insiders has an unusually high-resolution 24MP front-facing camera, with a 27mm (full-frame equivalent) focal length. The front-facing camera captures higher-quality images than most other smartphones with lower-resolution sensors and it’s capable of FullHD video capture as well, which is ideal for video conferences, live streaming, video chats and the like. As good as the front facing camera is, however, it’s the world-facing rear camera array that really shines.
Smartphone For Snapdragon Insiders Camera Array
The Smartphone For Snapdragon Insider’s rear-facing camera array is well thought out and can address a wide variety of photographic needs. The rear camera array is outfitted with three separate shooters — a standard main camera, an ultra-wide camera, and a telephoto camera with optical + digital hybrid zoom. The main camera is powered by a high-resolution 1/1.73” Sony IMX686 64MP image sensor with a 0.8 µm pixel size. And its lens features a wide and fast f/1.8 aperture.
The main camera also offers 4-axis optical image stabilization, dual LED flashes, a 78.3° field of view, and 2×1 on-chip-lens phase detection autofocus. In most lighting conditions, pixel-binning, quad-bayer technology is used to produce high-quality 16MP images from the 64MP sensor, which is similar to other flagship smartphones that feature super-high-res image sensors like the IMX686. A full resolution mode that outputs 64MP images is an option as well.
The f/2.2 aperture ultra-wide camera, which also supports 4 cm macro photography, uses a 1/2.55” Sony IMX363 12MP dual-pixel image sensor with 1.4 µm pixel dimensions. The telephoto camera – which also features 4-axis, optical image stabilization — uses an 8MP sensor, and adds 3x optical zoom, with up to 12x total zoom.
Unedited, Main Camera
Qualcomm collaborated closely with ASUS to optimize all of the cameras on the Smartphone For Snapdragon Insiders to best leverage its software and Spectra ISP features and capabilities. As you would expect, the device offers an array of computational photography features, — like Night Mode, Portrait Mode, HDR and AI Zoom. AI Zoom is one of the features that specifically leverages Qualcomm’s Triple ISP; AI Zoom seamlessly switches through all three of the rear-facing cameras to zoom in or out, while also being able to simultaneously track a subject.
Over and above the computational photography features though, the camera setup on the Smartphone For Snapdragon Insiders simply offers a quality user experience. The cameras autofocus particularly well, and produce excellent tones and textures. Noise performance is good as well, even in Night Shot mode. The camera offers Cascaded Noise Reduction in video mode too, for cleaner video captures in a variety of lighting conditions.
Smartphone For Snapdragon Insiders Camera App
The Smartphone For Snapdragon Insiders camera application is straightforward and uncluttered, similar to what you’d find on devices running “pure” Android. Users of any skill level should be able to easily navigate its menus and manage camera settings or bounce between modes. Although there are many options available to alter image quality to a user’s individual needs, auto-mode takes excellent shots with minimal fuss.
A wide array of editing options are also available once an image (or video) has been captured. There are simple, one-touch auto-enhance and white balance buttons available, in addition to a myriad of sharing options. As you venture deeper into the options though, everything is available from shadow / highlight adjustments, to skin tone manipulation, to tint, art filters, saturation and everything in between.
As we’ve mentioned and DXOMark confirms, the Smartphone For Snapdragon Insiders’ camera performance is among the best you’ll find on any of today’s flagship devices. When there is adequate lighting, the phone is capable of capturing excellent detail, with pleasing sharpness and accurate colors, which is to say images to don’t look overly saturated or processed like they can on lesser smartphones. The main shooter is particularly good, but the telephoto camera with optical zoom is excellent as well.
Unedited Brightly-Backlit Capture
There’s only so much dynamic range you’re going to get out of a tiny smartphone sensor, but even with window backlighting with the bright sun directly overhead, the Smartphone For Snapdragon Insiders’ camera performed admirably. Colors and tones of the main subjects are visible and detail is good, when normally they’d be almost completely in silhouette on lesser cameras.
Unedited f/0.95 Portrait Mode Capture
Portrait Mode also works very well on the Smartphone For Snapdragon Insiders. The artificially blurred background bokeh is smooth and pleasing to the eye, and users have full control of the simulation (this simulation is of an f/0.95 lens). Typically, using Portrait Mode can result in some artifacting in the fine details around the subject’s edges, but with its latest update, even with a complex subject, with many angled edges to deal with, the camera shines.
Unedited Macro Capture
Close-up Macro photography is also an option with the wide-angle shooter on the Smartphone For Snapdragon Insiders. Even when positioned practically on-top of the subject, the camera is able to focus properly and capture fine detail. In this sample, individual hairs and grains of pollen are resolved by the camera.
In terms of video recording, the Smartphone For Snapdragon Insiders also performs well. Slow motion, normal, and time lapse recording are available (along with adjustments for each mode). Video quality is on par with – or better – than just about any other smartphone currently on the market, and users have extensive control over which video modes they’d like to use. The Smartphone For Snapdragon Insiders is capable of capturing video at resolutions up to 8K30 or 4K60, with various Full HD and HD modes available as well.
Unedited Telephoto Capture
There is a common saying that “the best camera is the one you have with you”. With the ubiquity of smartphones, the point-and-shoot and to some extent the DSLR and mirrorless camera industries have been decimated over the last decade or so. With camera performance being such an important consideration for smartphones, it only makes sense to seek the best quality possible, and many consumers do just that when shopping for a new device. As it stands today, if you’re an Android user, Snapdragon-powered devices are the best bet if you’re after the highest-performance, most feature-rich mobile photography experience.

I am a freelance writer, co-founder and Principal Analyst at HTVA, and the longtime Managing Editor at HotHardware.com. My work has been published worldwide, in a number

I am a freelance writer, co-founder and Principal Analyst at HTVA, and the longtime Managing Editor at HotHardware.com. My work has been published worldwide, in a number of educational, PC, and technology-related print and web publications. I have been a computing and technology enthusiast since my early childhood. Before being exposed to the Commodore P.E.T. and later the C64 decades ago, I was interested in electricity and electronics, and still have the modified AFX cars and shop-worn soldering irons to prove it. Once I got my hands on my first Commodore 64, however, computing became my passion. Throughout my academic and professional lives, I have explored virtually every major platform from the TRS-80 and Amiga, to today’s high-end, multi-core servers. Over the years, I have worked in many fields related to technology and computing, including system design, assembly and sales, quality assurance testing, and technical writing.

I also serve as a Principal Analyst for HotTech Vision And Analysis, and like all technology analyst firms, HTVA provides paid services, research, and consulting to many semiconductor manufacturers, engineering firms, and system ODMs/OEMs. Some of the companies mentioned in this article may be clients of HTVA.

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