Samsung has decided that cameras on mobile phones are everything. Their latest release, the mid-tier A9, has four rear-facing cameras, and an additional front facing camera, for a total of five cameras on one phone. However, the A9 will be remembered as the world’s first four camera phone, because that’s what the marketing people say is more impressive.
Why would you want four cameras on a single phone? According to Samsung, they are creating a product for the “Instagram generation.” While many people’s instant reaction is to roll their eyes, this justification makes a tremendous amount of sense when you dig a little deeper.
The cameras aren’t designed to act as independent entities. In fact, unlike more complex camera-based rivals, the A9 is just as simple to use as the camera on everyone’s phone at the moment. The four cameras – importantly, not lenses – will use a centralised system to determine how to best take a particular image. While manual decisions can be made – such as panoramic photos – there are many other ways that the separate cameras can be activated. For example, if you are shooting a beach scene and there is a particular object of interest you are focusing on, such as a beach ball, then the phone may decide to switch cameras in order to better enhance that particular object. All of this is about taking the traditional phone-based “point-and-shoot,” methodology and introducing as much professionalism as possible, without forcing the user to purchase a DSLR solution. In fact, when looked at this way it becomes obvious that there is no limit to how many separate cameras can be introduced to a phone, although the design will have to (finally) be changed to accommodate an inevitable transition to more advanced technology.
In the meantime, we can expect a vigorous response – at least from Apple, LG and other competitors. Based on the latest Google pixel, we can assume that Google is happy with a single camera and won’t be involved with the photography crowd.