A recently filed patent for Samsung in South Korea hints at improved zoom controls in their camera software for smartphones, which on its own is a pretty boring patent and seems pointless considering how terrible digital zoom is on smartphones. However, if Samsung is investing into a smartphone camera zoom patent, that might mean their next phone will have better zoom, which will probably be accomplished with… a dual-camera setup. Raise your hand if that came as a surprise. No one? Okay, didn’t think so.
High-end smartphones are using dual-camera setups as a distinctive feature, including LG’s G5 and even Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus. HTC sort of popularized the trend a few years ago with the HTC One M8, although they’ve since abandoned it on newer devices.
Having the extra lens gives a smartphone camera much more flexibility. HTC used it to give depth information to shots, while LG uses it to help focus and stabilize an image while retaining image quality in low light, and Apple baked a telephoto lens into the iPhone 7 Plus which gives the camera some optical zoom instead of just digital zoom. All of the applications are useful and unique in their implementations, which means we’ll probably see Samsung adopt a little bit from each of them. If the original patent wants to improve zoom controls, though, that telephoto zooms lens sounds very appealing for the Galaxy S8.
Right now, this is still just a patent and only in South Korea, so things could change between now and early next year. But with most of Samsung’s rivals adopting a dual-camera system to drastically improve their smartphone cameras, I find it hard to believe that Samsung won’t do the same.