Samsung Galaxy S6 and HTC One M9 early units do not support full Android Lollipop Camera 2 API, critical controls missing


Smartphones have become the most popular cameras in the world, and with Android being the most popular smartphone platform on a global scale, every photography enthusiast should have been excited to hear about the new Camera 2 APIs coming to Android 5.0 Lollipop devices.

As is often the case with Google's platform, that excitement was premature and it turns out that support for some of the camera improvements that we expected to see in the first 2015 Android 5.0 Lollipop flagships are simply not there.

The Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, in particular, don't have the two critical new improvements: the capability to shoot photos in raw format (DNG) and access to control over shutter speeds.

Francois Simmond of SpectraStudy examined the new flagships' cameras at greater detail and notices that some work has been done (Samsung in particular brings a simpler, much more user-friendly camera interface), but those aforementioned essential options and controls are still missing.

This stands in stark contrast with Nexus devices running a stock version of Android 5.0 Lollipop. The Nexus 6 and Nexus 5 both support full manual controls (yes, with shutter speed corrections), and both are capable of saving full raw images for more intricate processing. It's also worth mentioning Apple's iPhones that support full control over shutter speeds with iOS 8 (but no raw image capture).

Here is a more comprehensive list of the new Camera 2 API features missing on the Galaxy S6 for instance:

  • no manual white balance via RGB gains
  • no custom color space conversion matrix
  • no shutter speed control
  • no manual exposure parameters (only rough exposure steps control)
  • non-fixed metering, etc.

A similar list holds true for practically all other 2015 Android 5.0 Lollipop flagships unveiled at MWC 2015.

What this means for the user is that - unless you are using a Nexus phone - a huge part of camera options coming with Camera 2 API in Lollipop will not be available on Samsung Galaxy and HTC One flagships in the near future (at least not via third-party apps). Only time will tell whether those new features will come to Android.


reference: SpectraStudy

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29 Comments

1. XperiaFanZone

Posts: 2277; Member since: Sep 21, 2012

I think this is also the case for Sony. Similarly.

28. Atrixboyyy

Posts: 595; Member since: Nov 03, 2011

It is, sadly.

2. penguinbelly

Posts: 162; Member since: Dec 27, 2014

That Francois dude apparently has an ax to grind when it comes to Samsung. Always looking for something.

11. rd_nest

Posts: 1656; Member since: Jun 06, 2010

They forgot to mention it's only for "stock" camera app. You can use 3rd party for full Camera 2 API. S6 hardware has support for everything, it's just not implemented in stock camera app. You can use 3rd apps from play store to have these features if you want. As usual, lousy report. Source:https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B_Vxs4ZWEAEU_Z1.jpg:large

17. supercurio

Posts: 5; Member since: Mar 17, 2015

Hi, as developped in my article, this initial report appears to be invalid. Regarding the S6 camera capabilities, there's a lot in Samsung's camera application. Manual controls, color rendering tuning. This study reports on how much of those existing imaging capabilities are available through the brand new Camera2 API.

18. rd_nest

Posts: 1656; Member since: Jun 06, 2010

Look who's reading PA :) Thanks for the clarification.

16. supercurio

Posts: 5; Member since: Mar 17, 2015

The source article lists Camera2 capabilities for: - Samsung S6 - HTC One M9 - ASUS Zenfone 2 - Lenovo VIBE Shot - Sony Xperia M4 Aqua - GiONEE Elife S7 The Samsung device being, in this list the most Camera2 API capable of the bunch.

3. sergiobr

Posts: 718; Member since: Feb 25, 2013

Waiting Note 5, the beast !

4. penguinbelly

Posts: 162; Member since: Dec 27, 2014

BTW this is not a hardware thing. Any 3rd party app will be able to do do RAW. PA is wrong and should correct this so that there is no misunderstanding.

15. supercurio

Posts: 5; Member since: Mar 17, 2015

If Google's enthusiastic presentation of Camera2 API lead to think so, RAW support is not mandatory for Lollipop, including in the FULL hardware compatibility support level. As an illustration, the Nexus 5 back camera supports RAW capture, but not the Nexus 7, or any of the phones recently updated to Android 5.

23. kevin91202

Posts: 642; Member since: Jun 08, 2014

PA is pseudo-tech website. Most of the time, they just reiterate published articles and studies. Some PA's writers don't really know much about computers, much less smartphone technology.

5. mixedfish

Posts: 1551; Member since: Nov 17, 2013

This is disappointing at launch, I really dislike auto mode in cameras, but just need a bit of patience for future updates.

6. TyrionLannister unregistered

So we have to download a 3rd party app right. That doesn't mean these phones don't support it. It just means that default camera doesn't supports it. So much for the headline.

7. TheStanleyFTW

Posts: 252; Member since: Feb 20, 2013

I hope that Sony integrats it for the standard camera app. THAT WOULD MAKE THE Z4 A BEAST! :D

8. Victor.H

Posts: 1056; Member since: May 27, 2011

No. It means that these early pre-production devices do not support Camera 2 API, hence no way for a 3rd party app to add them. This could change in the final devices (not very likely, though). If some of you happen to have a Galaxy S6 or One M9 (lucky you), you can check the support of Camera 2 API features here:https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=pl.vipek.camera2_compatibility_test

10. TyrionLannister unregistered

Are you sure? As I thought every lollipop device supported it. Edit: Checked on my Galaxy S4( android 5.0.1). It doesn't support any of them :(

13. rd_nest

Posts: 1656; Member since: Jun 06, 2010

You need hardware capability to support it. M9 doesn't have that. S6 does have it. https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B_Vxs4ZWEAEU_Z1.jpg:large

12. rd_nest

Posts: 1656; Member since: Jun 06, 2010

19. HomerS

Posts: 419; Member since: Sep 19, 2014

Allaboutsamsung.de already tested the S6/S6 Edge and they do support Camera 2 API. http://allaboutsamsung.de/2015/03/samsung-galaxy-s6-s6-edge-unterstuetzen-raw-und-manuelle-verschlusszeit-mimt-camera2-api/

9. rsiders

Posts: 1934; Member since: Nov 17, 2011

Well I know for a fact that HTC had full manual controls built into their manual camera mode with manual focus and the longest shutter speed of any Android phone up to 4 seconds. So if HTC hasn't changed that aspect with the One M9, then the only thing that will be missing is RAW capture and white balance controls. I'm pretty disappointed that they aren't taking advantage of these new and available options as it makes taking photos a lot more fun. I was excited about the Lollipop update for the Z3 until it was confirmed they did not include the new camera APIs. All the more reason I really miss my Lumia 1020 at times.

14. surethom

Posts: 1662; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

Where are the manual controls located. Im on 5.0.1 on nexus 5 & cannot find any change in the camera settings????

20. Tuxedo

Posts: 356; Member since: Mar 19, 2013

I would like to know as well.

21. rsiders

Posts: 1934; Member since: Nov 17, 2011

You have to download an app that takes advantage of it. Try out Manual Camera as it seems to be the one I'm coveting the most but won't be able to use. Wish other OEMs would get on board already. Geez.

22. rsiders

Posts: 1934; Member since: Nov 17, 2011

24. kevin91202

Posts: 642; Member since: Jun 08, 2014

With all of these nifty features in the API, the Nexus 6 should be able to snap better pictures than an S6 or Note 4? I don't think so. Vanilla Android is so vanilla.

25. JohnK

Posts: 117; Member since: Mar 03, 2015

When looking at first pic result, i think API3 is needed urgently for N5.

26. Symon_Fleece

Posts: 351; Member since: May 30, 2014

Does the camera 2 API supports all devices(Quadcore - octacore) running android 5.0.1?

27. MarkBatchelder

Posts: 1; Member since: Mar 18, 2015

HTC has already announced that there will be an update to the M9 camera app that will support things like RAW.

29. supercurio

Posts: 5; Member since: Mar 17, 2015

It's great to see they felt compelled addressing this concern quickly! Would you please share the source?

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