The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 will most likely have a dual camera: an analysis


The much-anticipated Galaxy S8 is set to be released very soon – April 28, in fact, if we’re to believe the latest rumors. From what we’ve seen so far, however, the phone will lack one of the bigger features we previously expected it to have: a dual rear camera. Still, we believe that Samsung hasn’t entirely abandoned the idea, but has rather postponed it for its other upcoming flagship, the Galaxy Note 8.

But first, let’s get something out of the way: unlike the S8, which has pretty much been unveiled in full by the copious amount of leaks, the Note 8 is still pretty much a mystery to everyone. Still, the signs pointing towards this conclusion are big enough for us to want to share them with you, even in the absence of factual evidence.

Announced six months after the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, the Note 7 was released to widespread critical acclaim, even though the ensuing battery fire fiasco severely damaged company’s reputation. Nevertheless, it seems Samsung hasn’t yet given up on the Note line, seeing as how we’ve still managed to hear rumors of the Note 8’s codename reportedly being “Great”. It may not be much, but it still seems to confirm the existence of a new Note, the likelihood of which was low due to the tarnishing of the brand.

Connecting the dots

With than in mind, let’s speculate: we know with almost complete certainty that at one point of the S8’s development a dual camera module was considered, but ultimately canceled. While we can’t say for sure why exactly was the idea shelved – whether it was due to problems with the technology itself, or if it was simply an economical decision – one thing’s for sure: Samsung has at least a partially-developed prototype of its own dual camera lying around somewhere.

Samsung’s newest high-end chipset, the Exynos 8895, hasn’t been used in any device yet, and is set to debut with the Galaxy S8, but it’s a fair assumption to make that the Note 8 will use it as well, just as its predecessor used the same chipset as the Galaxy S7. This is further evidenced by the specs of the Exynos 8895, which were publicly unveiled just last month. Many of the chipset’s promotional materials loudly proclaim its ability to support dual cameras, with a helpfully included mockup of a device using them.

From there on, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that Samsung intends to ship a device using the technology some time in the future. And here’s why: unlike Qualcomm, which is the de facto chipset vendor for most mid-to-high-end Android devices, the Exynos line is used almost exclusively by Samsung (the exception here being Meizu’s flagships). Even if the company plans to expand its chips’ market share, why would it develop a technology it doesn’t intend to use?

While one could argue that the ability is just a remnant from the development of the S8, which ultimately dropped the feature, it would still make perfect sense to include it in the Note 8, which would need its own set of unique features to differentiate it from the S8. While the Note 7 had its iris scanner and larger battery size, both of these are to be inherited by the new pair of mainstream flagships. The dual camera has the potential of being that new, unique feature – for Samsung devices, anyway.

Another big reason lies in the success of the S8’s biggest rival right now, the LG G6. While the device is yet to launch worldwide, it has enjoyed great success in the Korean market so far, and is bound to do so stateside, too, as the device has also proven to be extremely popular there as well. The G6, too, has its own dual camera system, and so do many other companies’ flagships, including the iPhone 7 Plus, as well as the Huawei P9 and P10. Samsung is one of the few companies who haven’t yet jumped onto the multi-camera bandwagon, and this might just be the perfect opportunity to do so.

Theories and possibilities

From what is known at the moment, Samsung is apparently taking its own route with dual cameras, which is to support two different sensors, a "high quality" and a "low power" one, according to the company's own website. Granted, this is about as vague as descriptions get, and as a result the possibilities for real-life implementation are endless, but it still gives a general idea of the direction Samsung is taking.

The most literal reading of the info is that the company's approach will be similar, though hopefully not identical, to that of a few of HTC's old flagships, such as the One (M8), where the second sensor was with a much smaller resolution, and used for effects only. The biggest problem with that wasn't really the basic idea, but rather its execution, which can at best be described as poor. However, this was a product of the undeveloped multi-camera technology at the time, both software- and hardware-wise.

The Exynos 8895 promises "high resolutions up to 28MP for each rear and front camera," which could mean two 28MP sensors on the back are a possibility, but the language here is unclear, as it's also likely the situation is similar to that of the Snapdragon 835, where the 32MP limit can be reached with a single sensor only, while dual cameras can only go up to 16MP. In any case, the hardware barrier is much higher than it was at the time of the M8's release, making software the main potential bottleneck of the idea.

And we're likely to see quite a few features there, as Samsung phones have historically featured a ton of shooting modes in the stock camera app (granted, some much more useful than others). As with most competitors, we expect to see some form of a bokeh/portrait mode, where the background is blurred to focus on an object or person. And there's a ton of other uses for the tech, including optical zoom, visual effects, and more.

However, it's very early to tell anything without concrete knowledge of the sensors and lens the Note 8 will be equipped with. What we know so far is the technical limits of its dual cameras, but no specifics. The device could potentially use different lenses for the two cameras, or it may be equipped with one monochrome and one color sensor, or possibly both. And if you're willing to go into wilder territory, Samsung could cram in something crazy like a thermal camera (ok, maybe not, but you get the idea).

Closing remarks

Again, we feel the need to state the obvious: all of the above is pure speculation. While there is some logic leading to the dual camera conclusion, we still know practically nothing about the Note 8, including whether it will even be called that, as the name has already been taken not once, but twice, both by honor and Samsung itself. Still, if this turns out to be true, the Galaxy Note 8 will put the dual camera front and center into the public’s eye, though with all the other implementations out there, things might become even more confusing than they're now.

In any case, it's certainly exciting to theorize about what Samsung has in store for us with the next Note, as the company has a lot to prove. Whether it's going to be a multi-camera setup as we suspect, or something else entirely, Sammy needs a standout feature for the Note 8 to regain consumers' trust in the brand. For now we have the promise of no more exploding phones, so that's a start, at least.

So what do you think: will the next Note have a dual camera, or are we looking for a pattern where there is none? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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