Why Does The HTC One Have Dual Cameras?

3/04/2014 Stephen Colbert 0 Comments


HTC has had a tough couple of weeks when it comes to leaks for the All New HTC One, culminating in the recent 12 minute video that has made its way around the internet.  I won't bother posting it, because everyone's being asked to take it down anyway (but you might be able to find it here).  It was basically the worse leak ever.  It didn't show anything interesting except for a good enough shot of the IMEI to get the poster in big trouble.

One confirmation, though, is that the phone does have dual cameras and takes "amazing" pictures.  This is one area I've been surprised by the lack of speculation.  The last phone from HTC with dual read cameras was the EVO 3D, and I think we can safely say that is not the route they are going with the new one.


CNET recently reported on Corephotonics, an Israeli company that uses a dual camera setup to allow for optical image zoom without moving parts or loss in resolution.  Corephotonics denies any involvement with HTC, but that doesn't mean much.  It's also possible HTC is developing a similar technology on their own.


The most prevalent speculation I've seen is that the dual lenses will allow the user to change the focus after the shot is taken, similarly to how Lytro works. The Samsung Galaxy S5 also has a selective focus feature, although it only has one rear camera sensor.

All these theories may very well be valid, they aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, but there is so much more this camera could do to disrupt the entire industry.

HTC made the bold decision with the first HTC One to abandon the mega-pixel race and produced what they dubbed an "utra-pixel" camera.  Basically a 4MP camera that favors the quality of the pixels in a photo over the number of pixels.  The result was much better range, especially in low light pictures.'


The camera wasn't for everyone though.  It definitely had a few blind spots.  In well lit areas it had a tendency to produce washed out photos and some people couldn't get over the low resolution.

The leaked HTC One appears to have the same ultra pixel shooter on the back.  There's a possibility they were able to add a few MP to the sensor, but it was already so big as is.  It's doubtful a sensor that size could be more than 5MP.

That's where the second sensor comes in.

True HDR photography is often produced with two cameras.  This effect has been simulated by smartphones by capturing multiple pictures of various exposure ranges and layering them on top of each other, but this often results in some blurry images, or ghosting if you aren't photographing something that is completely still.

A dual camera set-up such as the one on the new HTC One could be comprised of a 4MP "ultra pixel" camera and a 13MP second camera up top.  This will allow the pictures to still capture the great range of the ultra-pixel camera, but also get the resolution and lower dynamic range of the 13MP sensor.  It's basically the best of both worlds made seamless by an HDResque effect, but more versatile due to simultaneous capture.

There is no way HTC is abandoning the ultra-pixel camera they introduced last year, but many aspects of that technology were already maxed out unless they were to add a hockey puck camera sensor like the one found on the Lumia 1020.


The final product, could be a pair of shooters that captures the dynamic range of HDR with an ultra-pixel sensor, the high resolution of a sensor with more mega-pixels, the ability to choose an alternate focus after the image is taken, and a better optical zoom.

It could be all, none, some, or only one of those features, but either way, I was thrilled by HTC last year and can't wait to see what they do on March 25th.

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