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OPPO to bring 5x zoom on future smartphones

This is what OPPO is promising when it unveiled its newest camera technology here in Barcelona during the annual Mobile World Congress. OPPO is looking to put a 5x zoom into their future smartphones this year, the first one to be announced later this month (although we can’t really confirm if that one will already have this camera module).

A 5x optical zoom in a smartphone is not unheard of before. Samsung had the Galaxy S4 Zoom back in 2013 and it had a 10x optical zoom, BSI sensor and OIS. However, the S4 Zoom is more like a camera rather than a smartphone. And it’s also very thick and bulky (15.4mm and 208 grams) when not zooming in. That was followed by the Galaxy K Zoom which has a similar form factor and thicker body.

The most recent smartphone with high optical zoom is the Asus Zenfone Zoom at 3x, though the recent Zenfone 3 Zoom only has 2.3x optical zoom.

Once deployed, OPPO will have the highest optical zoom in a smartphone this year. To get to a higher zoom capability of 5x, the body of the camera needs to get thicker to accommodate the lens module. This is where OPPO is trying to innovate — keep their smartphones under 8mm thin and yet afford to include a 5x zoom capability to the phone.

The periscope-style lens solves this problem and OPPO is executing this using a dual-camera setup as illustrated above. It will be complemented with a new type of optical image stabilization to keep the shots steady and blurry-free.

Some of the initial tests showed that the 5x zoom is indeed superior compared to some flagship phones (we tried it with the iPhone 7 Plus) but it’s just a prototype device. OPPO still needs to launch a phone that will have this camera module and they did promise it will be soon.

This also begs the question — is a great camera a huge factor in consumer’s purchasing decision? If the answer is yes, and we believe it is, then the next obvious question would be “is zoom capability a significant contributing factor” for a great smartphone camera. This is the challenge that OPPO is attempting to achieve. But until we can see a real phone released with this technology, all these are just theories waiting to be proven.

Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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