So yeah, the new iPhones are here. One of them, the iPhone 7 Plus, has a feature that the smaller iPhone 7 lacks: dual cameras at the back.
The iPhone 7 Plus’ dual cameras are both 12-megapixel sensors. However, there’s some difference since they’re not meant to do the same things. One of them is a 28mm wide-angle lens. The other is a 56mm portrait lens that assures users that no image quality is lost when they zoom up to two times (optical zoom). The two cameras still work together to get more depth hence users will be able to take those shallow depth of field images.
However, the iPhone 7 Plus is not particularly breaking new ground by doing this. Dual cameras that do something along the lines of the iPhone 7 Plus’ cameras have been around on smartphones for a while. Going forward, everyone and their cat will be releasing smartphones with dual cameras. Even Infinix is in the mix. Here are a couple of such smartphones:
1. HTC One M8
The HTC One M8 is first on this list out of respect. It is the oldest device on this list. Back when it arrived, in March 2014, HTC was keen on bringing to the market something to take the place of highly-rated HTC One (M7). The One M8 never hit the highs of its predecessor but one of its features really stood out.
HTC had gone ahead and added a second camera lens at the back of the device instead of increasing the megapixel count of the main camera that fans were clamouring for. So, it still had that 4-megapixel “Ultra-Pixel” camera but with a companion lens on top of it.
HTC called it the Duo Camera and the second camera if we are to call it that, was for collecting depth of field information that would allow users to refocus long after an image was taken. Competing devices had been able to do this without including an extra lens but HTC’s implementation made sure that this was the case for every image the One M8 shot instead of requiring users to toggle on a setting as the other devices (like the Galaxy S5) did.
Back then, HTC claimed that the One M8’s Duo Camera lacked optical image stabilization (OIS) because “the technology was not possible on dual-camera systems”. Fast forward two years later and Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus not only has dual cameras but also OIS. How times change!
HTC hasn’t forgotten all this and HTC USA took to Twitter to poke fun at Apple and remind everyone that it went first with such a feature, never mind that the implementation is a bit different.
2. LG G5
The LG G5 is mostly known for its modular antics but that doesn’t mean that that is all there is to LG’s 2016 flagship smartphone. There is the dual camera at the back too. The G5 has a f/1.8 16-megapixel main sensor that takes photos with a 78-degree angle of view, like most other smartphones in class. However, it still has another f/2.4 8-megapixel sensor for taking 135-degree super wide angle view shots.
3. Huawei P9
Unlike LG, which was mainly subtle with its promotion of the G5’s dual-camera setup, Huawei has been shouting from the rooftops about the P9’s dual cameras. Actually, it’s made them the centre of the device’s marketing campaigns. It is not hard to see why since the P9’s dual cameras are excellent as I’ve found out when using the device over the last 3 months.
The P9, just like the iPhone 7 Plus, has two 12-megapixel sensors at the back. However, one takes black and white images while the other shoots in colour. Under normal circumstances, they come together to produce a single image with more depth, focus and clarity as I noted in my exhaustive review of the P9.
4. LG V20
The LG V20 is the most recent smartphone on this list. It is only a few days old and just like the G5, LG isn’t making a big fuss about its dual cameras. But they are there and are one of the phone’s biggest features. Last year’s V10 had a dual selfie camera setup, this year, the focus is on the back camera which is exactly the same as that on the G5.
5. Xiaomi Redmi Pro
This is Xiaomi’s first dual camera smartphone and it works pretty much like the HTC One M8. The second camera sensor if for “hardware-level depth of field processing”.