5 fancy phone camera autofocus technologies: from lasers to phase detection

5 fancy phone camera autofocus technologies: from lasers to phase detection
Phase detection auto focus, lasers, infrared, focus pixels - a smorgasbord of smartphone camera focusing technologies has appeared lately, and each one promises to be faster and better than the others. 

Samsung kicked it off with the PDAF tech in the Galaxy S5, then LG introduced us to the Laser Auto Focus, Lenovo planted an infrared focusing system on its upcoming Vibe Shot, and Sony is ready to put its own embedded focusing tech to good work.

Which one is fastest and bestest, though? While there is no clear-cut answer here, as those serve different focusing purposes, we thought we'd list the current crop in the slideshow below with a few words about each, in the hope to bring some clarity into the marketing speak of the smartphone makers. Check them out below.

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11 Comments

1. TyrionLannister unregistered

So basically you mean 4 methods right, as 'focus pixels' is indeed pass detection. And you guys forgot contrast detection I.e. the traditional one.

2. nebula

Posts: 1009; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

Didn't they covered contrast detection in the last Sony video along with other methods?!

6. CanYouSeeTheLight

Posts: 1122; Member since: Jul 05, 2012

As the title implies they meant "fancy" so im presuming that's why they left out the traditional method as it isn't "fancy".

3. Symon_Fleece

Posts: 351; Member since: May 30, 2014

Waiting for sony's IMX230 in z4 and z4 comapact.

4. PootisMan

Posts: 266; Member since: Aug 02, 2013

Same here.

5. MrKoles

Posts: 368; Member since: Jan 20, 2013

The hardware is top-notch, but software...

10. kent-gaga

Posts: 609; Member since: Apr 10, 2012

IMX230? i thought the S6 already has the IMX240 sensor?

7. duartix

Posts: 311; Member since: Apr 01, 2014

Well, it's that time of the day when I have to call out PA on the usual wrong aspects of photography. :P Fact One: PDAF (Phase detection) isn't much accurate and doesn't work much better in low light as it's portrayed. It's the exact opposite actually. Otherwise if there were only advantages, no one would use CDAF (contrast detection). Fact Two: Phase detection (S5) and Focus Pixels (iPhone6) are one and the same technology. Some of the sensor's pixels are exclusively devoted to PD (phase detection). Not surprisingly, Sony's Image plane PDAF is also the same thing with a simple twist: some of the processing circuitry is in the sensor when it's usually relegated to software. You are welcome.

8. p51d007

Posts: 697; Member since: Nov 24, 2013

What cracks me up is how people think adding more pixels to a PINHOLE sensor is going to make the photos better, when you could probably overlay hundreds of smartphone sensors, onto ONE dSLR sensor. As you are probably aware, it isn't the number of sensors, it's the SIZE of each sensor. Adding more sensors, tightly packed in a pinhole sensor, just adds crosstalk (noise) which is why a lot of low light photos look like they have "stars" floating through the photo, or, dull images because the compression algorithm is trying to get rid of the noise and smears the photo.

11. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Hundreds? Seriously hundreds? http://mobileandphone.com/nokia-lumia-1020-camera-vs-dslr/ What cracks me up is you might actually believe your hundreds statement.

9. ekillians

Posts: 3; Member since: Mar 13, 2015

So why does my Droid Turbo suck so badly for any type of focusing. Better technology but worse results? Typical Motorola.

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