There is little doubt that smartphone cameras have advanced to a level that we would not have thought was feasible ten years ago. A Qualcomm vice president reportedly stated that smartphone cameras will outperform DLSRs in five years as a result of these advancements.
Judd Heape, the Vice President of Product Management for Camera, Computer Vision, and Video at Qualcomm, expressed his optimism for a new era for smartphone sensors in an interview with Android Authority. However, he cautioned that the process might take up to five years.
In comparison to DLSR cameras, one of the main drawbacks of smartphone cameras is the physical size of the sensor. Providing image quality enhancements through software is the next step when hardware becomes a limitation because mobile devices cannot boast larger sensors no matter how advanced the engineering.
Qualcomm claims that the Snapdragon range of chipsets can process 10 times faster than cameras created and offered by big companies like Nikon and Canon.
We’re three to five years away from reaching the holy grail of AI photography.
The processing in Snapdragon is 10 times better than what you can find on the biggest and baddest Nikon and Canon cameras. And that’s why we’re able to really push the barrier on image quality. Because even though we have a small lens and small image sensor, we’re doing many, many times more processing than what’s even capable in a DSLR.”
The term “AI” was first used by smartphone manufacturers just a few years ago to describe how artificial intelligence improved the quality of the images on their products. Judd Heape of Qualcomm suggests that AI is a key contributor and will get to the point where it can recognise and modify smaller items.
Going forward in the future, we see a lot more AI capability to understand the scene, to understand the difference between skin and hair, and fabric and background and that sort of thing. And all those pixels being handled differently in real-time, not just post-processing a couple of seconds after the snapshot is taken but in real-time during like a camcorder video shoot.”
The largest sensor now present in a smartphone is 1-inches in size when measured diagonally, but Heape thinks they can go bigger with a little more work. Unfortunately, he did not say how long, so it is clear that we shouldn’t wait around impatiently for a 1.25-inch or 1.5-inch sensor to be out the next year.
When Qualcomm makes the announcement of the upcoming Snapdragon processors, we will be able to see what progress has been made and learn more about the work that the team has put into developing smartphone camera sensors.