Who needs a telephoto lens? The Google Pixel 2 will make Portrait Mode photos with a single camera

When the iPhone 7 Plus launched last year, Apple introduced the telephoto secondary lens providing 2x optical zoom and the alluring Portrait Mode for the first time on a smartphone. You know — the software feature that emulates a DSLR camera with a shallow depth of field, allowing you to take photos with blurred backgrounds.

Now, what's important to note is that Apple uses information from both the regular camera and the telephoto lens one in order to get the depth information needed for Portrait Mode to do its magic. The feature has been emulated by some apps and some device manufacturers, but without 2 cameras, it's sketchy to get it to work. Samsung did add it to the Note 8 since it also has a dual camera module on its back.

The Pixel builds a depth map with just 1 camera sensor

The Pixel builds a depth map with just 1 camera sensor

Well, Google is delving into Portrait now and it's doing so without dual camera modules. Instead, it will be using the Duo Pixel technology of the camera sensors it uses. Each pixel in the sensor is comprised of two separate pixels — a feature, which helps with light collection and fast focus. Now, Google has added an algorithm, which analyzes the information from the Duo Pixels to create a depth map.

A depth map is, of course, the information on background, foreground, and different object distance within an image. So, using that map, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL will be able to simulate the natural blur of a pro camera, or at least it's supposed to.

The Portrait feature will also be available for selfies, since the camera up front also has a dual pixel sensor.

Google claims this tech works great, we are a bit skeptical. But we certainly can't wait to try it in a couple of comparisons.

Related phones

Pixel 2
  • Display 5.0" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 12.2 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, Octa-core, 2350 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB
  • Battery 2700 mAh
Pixel 2 XL
  • Display 6.0" 1440 x 2880 pixels
  • Camera 12.2 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, Octa-core, 2350 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB
  • Battery 3520 mAh

FEATURED VIDEO

21 Comments

1. Lumberjack

Posts: 306; Member since: May 04, 2017

I said it was possible with one cam only

2. izim1

Posts: 1594; Member since: Feb 04, 2013

Did you, really? Man, all those app developers that created all those photo editing apps capable of doing this years ago, mustve gotten wind of your statement. Do you get royalties from them?

12. Lumberjack

Posts: 306; Member since: May 04, 2017

Sony has the defocus background since the Z phones. It is a sub-app like AR, 4K, Panorama and others... It does not work well but it is there... Google it...

10. uncle_gadget

Posts: 1050; Member since: Sep 20, 2017

Yep I saw someone say that too and they asked why do we need 2 cameras for this when technically, all camera sensors have dual or in this case 6 sensors inside one. Just proves dual cameras is simply a gimmick. I was personally against dual cameras even when LG and others did it first. I have a phone with dual cameras, and even though I've taken a few shots with it, its easy to forget its there other than Samsung placed a 2X right in the view. What I would like to see is a camera with digital zoom and not software zoom.

22. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4767; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

Optical zoom you mean.

17. therealestmc

Posts: 679; Member since: Jul 23, 2012

And according to DXOmark it isn't as good as the iPhone or the Galaxy Note 8. The picture in DXOmark from the Google Pixel gave me a headache.

3. abdoualgeria

Posts: 928; Member since: Jul 27, 2015

Sorry but with single lens you can't zoom or wide angle What is Google trying to say ??

4. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4767; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

Did you read the article properly? You just had to comment because you want to diss at something or someone, didn't you? They're talking about the depth effect...which was only supposedly possible with dual cameras APART from the secondary camera which does wide angle or a telephoto. And hey Sherlock, it looks like it's possible with a single lens after all.

6. Boast_Rider

Posts: 532; Member since: Sep 14, 2017

Except it was possible before. Samsung did it with the S6, S7 and the S8. Google is just making it better and quicker due to better processing.

13. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4767; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

Read SUPPOSEDLY!

5. Boast_Rider

Posts: 532; Member since: Sep 14, 2017

Dual cameras are not for portrait mode only. Yes, it helps, but Samsung was doing it for years with S6 which only had a single camera. What a single camera can't do is take a go-pro like shot(G6, V30) or do a 2x zoom without quality loss (Note 8, iPhone 8 plus). And I'm fine with it.

16. samgsam

Posts: 143; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

Lumia 1020 has single lense and it can do lossless zoom atleast upto 2x i guess.

18. Boast_Rider

Posts: 532; Member since: Sep 14, 2017

That's not lossless. It's at a lower resolution lossless.

7. Babadook

Posts: 230; Member since: May 24, 2016

So Lens BLur on OG Pixel phones probably won't get an update? Or will they?

8. anotherfan

Posts: 62; Member since: Sep 28, 2015

Apple wasn't the first to introduce dual cameras that make the background blurred, i think htc introduced it first with the one m8

9. Zack_2014

Posts: 677; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

The main question is "Will the Pixel 1 get this portrait mode?" Cuz they are guaranteed 3 years of software updates. And I don't see a reason why Pixel 1 won't support unless Google deliberately doesn't pass it on to the older phone just to differentiate the old vs the new.

11. uncle_gadget

Posts: 1050; Member since: Sep 20, 2017

Well is the sensor can't support the same feature, you can't expect it to get it. Right?

15. Zack_2014

Posts: 677; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

It's mostly software related not hardware. So really hope Google is generous enough to bring this feature to the OG Pixel phones.

19. joeym2

Posts: 11; Member since: Dec 03, 2009

I've had the original Pixel since November 2016. This feature has been available on the original Pixel. My friends even swear that I take photos using an iPhone. Why is everyone acting like this is new to the Pixel?

20. surethom

Posts: 1610; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

I want a second camera for added zoom, 2/3 x zoom is a great feature to have on a modern phone.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.