Dual cameras are a boon for manufacturers, but are they worth the hype?

Dual cameras have found a home in some of today’s high-end smartphones and 2017 is already seeing a line-up of new devices equipped with or expected to sport the cutting edge photography technology. As with all new pieces of technology, we’re also likely to see dual cameras trickle further down into the mid-range too. Huawei’s Honor range is already there. But should we immediately leap at this technology over single sensor alternatives?

Smartphone processors are, perhaps surprising, the key to supporting dual cameras in lower cost smartphones. HiSilicon’s mid-range Kirin 665 supports dual ISP technology, as does Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 617 and above, and the company’s low-end Snapdragon 425 through to 435. This is essential especially in low cost phones, as this means that OEMs can connect up their image sensors and perform the necessary processing with full support of the SoC, removing the need for additional hardware and costs.

One of the most important aspects of MediaTek’s Helio P25 announcement a couple of weeks ago was support for dual camera setups. The P25 supports either a single 24 megapixel sensor or two 13 megapixel components. In theory, this means that we could see something similar to the upcoming LG G6’s 2x 13MP cameras come to a phone that costs half the price. It’s unlikely that every mid-range phone will boasts dual cameras, but the tech trends are certainly pointing to increased adoption.

While this trend is certainly seeing SoC manufacturers cater to growing demand for new and improved camera technology, the biggest commercial benefactors are those building dual camera arrays. LG Innotek posted a record breaking 117.8 billion won ($103 million) in Q4 2016 after supplying components for Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus. Read more..