It seems that LG might be attempting to take the smartphone market into new territory as it recently filed a patent for a 16-lens smartphone camera according to LetsGoDigital.
Multiple lenses on cameras a new concept. Dual lens cameras have become the new normal for many devices, in particular, plus size models. More than that, we have even seen the introduction of three rear lenses break into the smartphone market. Samsung upped the ante with the 2018 Galaxy A9, which has four camera lenses that are stacked vertically at the back. Now there are rumours of a five-lens device from Nokia and a new potential nine-camera smartphone prototype from the multi-lens startup Light who has already introduced a a 16-lens camera.
The lenses will be arranged in a 4 x 4 matrix layout at the back of the smartphone and are intended to take multiple perspectives in a single shot. This would allow for the capture of moving 3D pictures and would also make it easier to edit and replace objects in photos due to the additional data taken in each shot.
LG is also planning to place a mirror at the bottom of the 16 lenses to allow users to take selfies. This could mean that LG may be planning to ditch the front smartphone camera which would allow them to pursue a truly edge-to-edge display without a pesky notch. This would be a new solution to the notch problem amongst the recent trend of creative ideas such as a sliding front camera and behind the screen technology.
LG’s patent also describes combining the different camera angles to create a miniature film, similar to Apple’s Live Photos or Lytro’s adjustable light field images.
There is the obvious concern that a 16-lens smartphone camera is excessive. Typically when it comes to a multi-lens setup the law of diminishing returns aptly applies to multi-aperture technologies. The second camera in a dual-lens setup offers the greatest returns in terms of added user experience, while additional cameras in any setup would need to provide significant added value to the overall user experience in order to justify its additional cost, size, and complexity. These kinds of camera configurations will be incredible so long as they adequately resolve low-light performance limitations (both capture and video modes) as well as proper optical zoom capabilities (beyond 3x).
While this remains for now as just a patent and LG may not ever create it into a phone, it certainly indicates that the phone market is not dead and new ideas are still being developed.