In this article, the trends that may be observed in the field of smartphone cameras until 2022 are collected and reviewed.
The year 2021 is almost over and it has been an interesting year for smartphone cameras. We’ve seen mid-range devices that support features such as a 108-megapixel camera and astrophotography mode, and there are flagship phones that have enhanced their ultraviolet lenses; Also, more brands in the camera industry are now partnering with mobile phone manufacturers. Even Google has updated its hardware with the Pixel 6 series over the years.
With all this in mind, what does 2022 mean for mobile cameras? In the rest of this article, we’ll look at some of the possible smartphone camera trends for next year.
The cameras below the screen are amplified
In 2020 we saw the first commercial phone with a selfie camera under the screen thanks to ZTE, but in 2021 several other phones joined the trend. While ZTE introduced the second generation of the Axon 30 series, the Xiaomi Mix 4 and Samsung’s Galaxy Z3 Fold both both have cameras under the display.
The problem with monitor cameras is that they perform poorly in all conditions except daylight. The quality difference between these cameras and older models is significant. There is also another problem with the blur around these monitors, so they can not be said to be fully integrated.
However, we expect sub-screen cameras to be much better in 2022, as some of the major manufacturers are familiar with the technology in 2021 and will no doubt improve the hardware and algorithms for the next generation of efforts. However, not all flagships will be able to use the improved version of the monitor camera in the future.
Cinematic mode comes to Android
One of the strengths of the iPhone 13 series is the cinematic mode, which is actually a smarter portrait shooting mode. Of course, this is not a new portrait video, as we have seen that Huawei and Samsung have already offered this option. But Apple technology includes autofocus on a subject when recognizing faces, tracking subjects, and more.
We have no doubt that some manufacturers of Android phones are copying Apple technology in cinematic mode. But will everyone’s smartphone have cinematic mode in 2023? This seems a bit far-fetched. For this reason, we do not think that all manufacturers can succeed in this trend.
We will see RGBW cameras again
We first saw RGBW camera sensors coming to smartphones in 2015 when we introduced the Huawei P8. Oppo also produced handsets with these sensors in 2015 and 2018. Conventional camera sensors have color filters with red, green, and blue subpixels. But RGBW sensors also add white sub-pixels to the mix, promising better light and less noise.
The technology looks set to be revived in 2022 as Oppo and Vivo introduce their RGBW camera sensors for future devices. In fact, Oppo says it will launch a commercial device with an RGBW sensor in the fourth quarter of 2021. Vivo, meanwhile, announced in 2020 that the first devices with RGBW sensors will be available in 2021, adding that they offer better image quality than RYYB sensors like Huawei.
There are also rumors that the Galaxy S22 series could have a 50-megapixel RGBW camera sensor next year. Even if this claim does not come true, it seems that RGBW sensors will definitely be one of several smartphone camera trends in 2022.
Image stabilization becomes more powerful
Optical Image Stabilizer (OIS) has been around for years in high-end smartphones, dating back to devices like the Lumia 920. But in recent years we have seen companies like Vivo go a step further with micro-gimbal stabilization technology and Apple with sensor-shift stabilization technology.
Vivo is expected to continue working on the micro gimbal next year, while Samsung is likely to bring OIS to its Galaxy A mid-range series. Oppo also unveiled its so-called five-axis OIS technology earlier this year and said it would launch it in the first quarter of 2022. In other words, better image stabilization, especially on more affordable handsets, could be another big trend next year.
Make variable telephoto more popular?
Sony made one of the most significant technical breakthroughs in 2021 with the introduction of variable telephoto camera phones. This feature, found on the Xperia 1 III and 5 III, suggests that if you want great zoom performance, you do not necessarily need two separate telephoto cameras.
Conventional telephoto and periscope cameras shoot at a constant magnification, and any gaps between them are created by hybrid zoom with the help of software. Sony has added a telephoto lens to its smartphone that is capable of native photography with 2.9 and 4x magnification to provide the best quality; Of course, the implementation of this company also had some shortcomings.
This method can create a higher quality and more flexible zoom experience than when the device relies on a single telephoto or periscope camera. But its downside is that it still relies on hybrid zoom for intermediate zoom.
We hope that Sony will continue to improve this technology in 2022, but we also know that Oppo is advancing with its own zoom technology. Earlier this year, the company introduced a continuous optical zoom module that can move slowly and shoot anywhere.
8K video recording gets better
8K video recording first hit the phones in 2019, when Red Magic 3 offered the very disappointing 8K / 15fps capability. Fortunately, in 2020 we saw a huge improvement thanks to the Snapdragon 865 series chips that offer native 8K / 30fps support. This trend will continue in 2021, as many flagship phones will support 8K video recording.
8K video recording is expected to increase in quality in 2022. It’s probably a little early for 8K / 60fps, but we’d expect to see improvements like 8K HDR or 8K with improved stabilization.
Imaging chips are customized
Smartphones typically rely on an image signal processor (ISP) in their chip to process images. For example, phones that use Snapdragon chips typically use ISP Spectra. But we also saw a trend in 2021 where brands were using their own custom ISP instead.
The Xiaomi MixFold and Vivo X70 Pro Plus both use their own ISPs instead of the Snapdragon imaging chip. Xiaomi claims that this custom chip captures better photos in low light, has improved autofocus, and offers better white balance and auto exposure. Vivo, meanwhile, said its built-in ISP provides less noise and better energy efficiency.
This is not the first time we have seen companies produce their own custom imaging chips, and Google has been doing this since 2017. This year, the company went one step further with 6 pixels and introduced one of its best cameras. So we would not be surprised if Google, Vivo, Xiaomi and perhaps other brands continue this trend of smartphone cameras in 2022.
The ability to delete the object returns
The Pixel 6 series has a variety of cool features in its camera, but it is the Magic Eraser mode that has made it to our list. Google joins Samsung and Huawei to offer object delete mode and allow users to delete special and extra items in a scene. It may sound a little strange, but Google has been working on this feature since 2015, so it’s been a long time coming.
It seems logical that Google’s decision to add this feature to its camera will force companies such as Xiaomi, Oppo and OnePlus to add such a feature to their smartphones in 2022. Google introduced astronomical photography mode in 2019 and has since been copied by companies such as Reelmi and Vivo. But last year, the company introduced a mode called Cinematic Pan that has never been copied by anyone.
The Pixel 6 also offers Motion Mode and Face Unblur capabilities that help improve image quality. So we can see the use of these features by competing brands.
In this article, we tried to examine the most prominent trends that we will probably see in 2022.