Samsung Electro-Mechanics’ 5x optical zoom camera module will be supplied to Chinese smartphone maker Oppo. The adoption of the 5X optical zoom camera on a smartphone is the world’s first.
According to the industry on the 5th, Samsung Electro-Mechanics will begin mass production of the 5x optical zoom camera module to be supplied to Oppo as early as next month. The 5x optical zoom is expected to be installed in Oppo’s flagship smartphone R series, which will be available in the late Q2 or early Q3. “The 5x optical zoom will be installed in (Oppo) flagship products,” said an official from Actro, a camera module actuator company. Actro supplies actuators to Samsung Electro-Mechanics’ camera modules.
Samsung Electro-Mechanics said that “product specifications are determined by the customer.” In addition to Samsung Electronics, Samsung Electro-Mechanics supplies optical zoom camera modules to Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo in China.
Optical zoom refers to the function of zooming in or out an object by moving two or more lenses. By adjusting the focal length of the lens, it enhances the object. Even after enlarging the picture, the image stays clear. There is no deterioration in the picture quality that occurs when zooming in an image taken by a normal digital zoom. However, in order to enhance the optical zoom function, it is necessary to secure the distance between the lenses. This increases the thickness of smartphones, which is why the optical zoom function of the smartphone was limited to 2-3 times zooming.
Oppo found the answer in the lens array direction. Oppo installed the lens in the left-right direction rather than the usual front-back direction and succeeded in implementing the optical zoom function while avoiding the “protruding camera issue” (the shape of the camera module protruding from the back of the smartphone). The optical (telephoto) lens and the zoom lens are arranged sideways to secure the gap between the lenses, and the principle of reflecting the light is utilized by the arrangement of a periscopic lens.
Oppo has partnered with Israel’s Core Photonics to unveil its 5x optical zoom technology at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in 2017. It is that new technology has become commercialized right away. This year, at MWC, 10x optical zoom technology has also been released by Oppo.
Another industry official said, “The competition in the domestic market for smartphones has become fierce. Frequently, Chinese smartphone companies adopt excessive hardware specifications or install a new technology first.” It is the industry’s analysis that the Chinese smartphone market’s reverse growth is related to this fierce competition.
Meanwhile, in January, it was reported that Samsung Electronics is trying to acquire Core Photonics, which has been cooperating with Oppo in optical zoom technology. The official position of Samsung Electronics has not been publicized. Oppo has taken fourth place in global smartphone sales (Gartner) and second place in the China smartphone market (IDC) in the fourth quarter of last year.