Samsung's new 5x zoom camera may go in its 'most creative' 2019 phone instead of Note 10

Samsung outs 5x zoom camera, may go in its 'most creative' 2019 phone instead of Note 10
If Huawei's access to Google services on Android ultimately gets blocked after the three-month "stay" of the White House executive order passes, Samsung may be the biggest beneficiary, according to 65% of the 1343 respondents in our survey

Who do you think will benefit the most from Huawei's Android license revocation?

The other Chinese phone makers
Samsung, LG and other Android makers outside China

To battle Huawei, however, it's not enough only to rely on capricious geopolitical considerations, as the company didn't become the world's second largest phone maker without offering added value. Huawei is actually the only major handset maker that equips its flagship phones with 1080p displays, huge batteries and ultrafast charging, making them a breath of endurance fresh air in a sea of high-end phones that barely get you through the day. 

This season, it added another differentiating factor to its already stellar camera credentials, namely the periscope zoom lens on the P30 Pro whose combined lossless magnification goes up to 10x, though the "optical" part of it is 5x, and the rest is pixel-binning from the high-res sensor. Thus, if the competition wants to really have an answer to Huawei's phones and benefit from something more sustainable than government whims, it has to step up its camera game, and that is precisely what Samsung seems to be doing.

Korean media is reporting today that Samsung Electro-Mechanics (SEM) has developed a 5x periscope zoom camera module of its own, ready to go into mass production. The added value of the new kit is that it is just 5mm thin, against 6mm for a regular vertical telephoto lens that only allows for 2x magnification.

Samsung achieved this by using light refraction from a prism inside the module, just like on Huawei and Oppo phones, and squished the lens shape from a circular one to flatten it further. Samsung Electro-Mechanics supplied an example of what the periscope mechanism can do with the flower bed pictures below. The strip represents shooting with the main camera, then zooming in at the current 2x magnification of Samsung phones, and, finally, at the full 5x zoom the system is capable of.

Needless to say, periscope-type zooming is not a Samsung invention, as it has been bandied about for a few years now. Samsung is an early investor in the Israeli firm Corephotonics which pioneered dual cameras, telephoto and periscope zooming before it was cool, and lined up several clients as far back as 2017, including Oppo

On top of that, Largan Precision, one of Apple's main camera element suppliers, revealed last summer that a multi- and periscope lens boom will be happening en masse this year, and so far they seem to be right. Currently, phones use mostly telephoto lens for faux 2x or 3x magnification, while the kit in the P30 Pro or Oppo Reno uses "optical" zooming with a periscope system tucked inside fairly thick bodies, or housings where the rear camera protrudes significantly from the surface.

Is the Note 10 camera going to sport 5x zoom?

The Galaxy S10 5G sports six cameras in total, but only goes up to 2x telephoto zoom. While the Note 10 may rework the kit a bit more, we doubt that Samsung's new module will be featured there. In fact, there are already rumors from credible sources exactly how the camera kits will play out among the two Note 10 and Pro models that Samsung is likely to issue this year.

Korean media probed Samsung's supply chain sources last month to learn that the Note 10 will land with the hexa-camera set of the Galaxy S10 5G. That's four cameras at the rear and two at the front or a record in the industry, as the Nokia 9 PureView also has six cameras, just five on the back.

The rumored smaller Note 10 version, however, which is said to be destined mainly for the European market, is allegedly coming with the penta-camera set without the time-of-flight sensor, as found on the S10+

The new 5x zoom module of Samsung can fit into thin handsets without protruding, and we can't wait to see the final design of the Galaxy that will eventually land this module. There is nothing mentioned about the Note 10 in today's report, though, so perhaps Samsung will keep the surprise for another phone altogether.

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