Samsung Galaxy S11 and Note 10 might feature exciting new camera tech

Samsung is rumoured to be buying a camera technology firm that may revolutionise smartphones

With folded optics a zoom lens is possible (Image: Corephotonics)

Samsung is looking to buy an Israeli company that could help it revolutionise the cameras in its smartphones in a $150 million deal.

The firm, called Corephotonics, specialises in what are called “folded camera optics” which take camera lenses and turn them into a sort of periscope.

Although we have telephoto and wideangle lenses on phones we don’t have zoom lenses because there isn’t usually room. A zoom lens needs to move the lens elements to adjust the image.

Folded camera optics solve this by moving the sensor. Instead of being directly behind the lenses, it’s inside the phone body and a prism reflects the light to hit the sensor.

Chinese company Oppo has shown of prototype phones that feature a 5x zoom and, at Mobile World Congress this year, will show off a new 10x optical zoom.

Oppo has already shown off phones with this technology (Image: Oppo)

The company hasn’t yet released a production model of a phone that features this technology though, perhaps suggesting it’s not ready of the mass market yet.

A zoom has some advantages over the more binary wide or telephoto options. With a zoom you can adjust the frame to suit what you’re photographing.

If Samsung adopts the same technology that Oppo has demoed then you could see the Note 10 and Galaxy S11 appear with zoom lenses that offer 10x magnification.

Because this is done with lenses, rather than digitally, the quality will be much better.

On phones like the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S9 we are often given the option to zoom in far closer than the optical system will allow, but this is a digital process which reduces the quality of the picture.

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According to Phonearena it’s not just zooms of 10x that are possible with this technology, but it could offer 25x magnification.
Of course the cameras will also need impressive stabilization to make a zoom lens that extreme it could offer even more reasons to stick to your smartphone instead of a dedicated camera.
A zoom lens also makes video more enjoyable to watch, because there’s no sudden jump when switching between lenses, just a nice smooth transition from one to the other.
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