Do More Cameras In Your Smartphone Equate With Better Image Quality?

Smartphones have started replacing small cameras, and for all the right reasons. The image quality of phone cams has improved dramatically in the last few years. We can now record a 4K video at different FPS with our pocket device, and use the advanced settings to get the best output. More recently, we have welcomed the phenomenal optical image stabilisation which has made it possible for us to record movies and high-resolution stable videos anywhere we go! To make it all the more appealing, the number of cameras in smartphones continues to increase. From a single, to 2, to 3, to 4, and now a whooping 5 and 6, what we’re going to discuss today might help you pick your next device wisely!

Does increasing the number of cameras in your phone necessarily mean you’re going to get a better image quality?

Let’s find out!

A little history for better understanding

Hello, Moto!

A 4.4lbs handheld smartphone, the first, was launched in 1973 by Motorola. This innovation was released even 6 years before we knew of cellular network!

It just clicked!

Steve Sasson, an engineer at Kodak, designed the first ever digital camera in 1975. How long do you think it took the camera to capture a single image? 23 seconds, no kidding! But this was only the beginning of the era of photography. Many companies started launching their own cameras, including Fujifilm and the Apple Quicktake

And then they met

The two technologies met in 1999, and the first camera phone, VP-210, was released by Kyocera! This device had a 2 inch TFT screen and a 0.11MP camera, followed by camera phones from Samsung and Sharp on 2000!

The first dual-lens camera.

The first phones with two lenses, not two cameras, arrived in 2011, namely the LG Optimus 3D and the HTC Evo 3D.

What was the second lens there for? Easy. It was used to take 3D photos and videos.

The era of multiple camera!

In 2016, LG came up with its G5, which was the first device with a second camera! This extra cam was an ultra wide angle lens.

Post fame, cameras and their increasing number became a trend. Apple, with its iPhone 7, introduced the telephoto lens. The two cameras on the iPhone 7 were equally powerful and offered different focal lengths, thus enabling varied zooming and depth sensing. 

Huawei brought it’s infamous P20 and boasted of its triple-camera system. This camera included AI and Night mode. And then, Samsung welcomed the world of quad-camera system with its Galaxy A9! .

Budget smartphones are now offering triple and quad camera set-up, which we find really great, but it raises the question of “What’s next? ” Are we going to continue adding cameras, or is there a stopping point?


Nokia’s Nokia 9 Pureview was different, though. Even after being the first mobile ohone with a penta-camera setup, it was not exactly the multi-camera system we’re used to. Having no wide-lens or depth-sensor, the five cameras captured simultaneously, gathered their data, and then combined it to make a single great image. This collaborative technology is called light-sensing!

Light-sensing was also used in Light L16 – a camera launched with 16 different lenses – each with unique capabilities. But the actual use of the camera is much more versatile than just a combined image.  Because the camera collects such detailed data about the image, it allows us to edit it to a great extent even after capturing.

All that is great, but did it really affect the image quality?

The number of cameras kept increasing but that didn’t mean the quality was getting better exponentially. In fact, the additional cameras contribute almost nothing to the actual image quality. It is the primary camera of the device it all depends on, and the quality and brand of sensors, the focal length of lenses and the optimization or image processing capabilities of a smartphone. An example would be the 3-camera setup of the iphones that capture remarkably better images than mid-range quad-camera smartphones.

So, what’s the final word?

The number of cameras is not directly associated with image quality, but it does allow us to capture different images. Because the image quality depends largely on the lens, sensor and megapixels, and smartphone cameras don’t allow us to change the focal length of the lenses, the number of cameras might not play as great a role in the image quality as we might believe.

A single camera might capture images of better quality than a multiple camera system, but the combined data received by multiple cameras gives us the flexibility to get the perfect shot.

For example, back in 2018, the Google Pixel 3 was the best camera smartphone when it came to image quality, even though it had a single camera. But in terms of depth sensing and portrait mode, Apple’s iPhone XS and XS Max were the winners. 


If you liked reading this, you will love: What Tech Giants Are Planning To Do With Their Upcoming Smartphones

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