To understand the whole 48MP camera theory, one has to understand that the processor that powers the phone matters the most. So for instance, while Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 660 mobile processor supports up to 48MP image sensors, the latest Snapdragon 675 processor up to 192MP sensor.
Not to forget, on paper, Qualcomm processor like Snapdragon 845, 855 and 710 also supports up to 192MP camera sensors.
“Our platform is capable of supporting smartphones with up to 192 MP cameras. But the ‘maximum megapixels’ or resolution that is offered by the latest camera sensors (from Sony or Samsung) is 48MP. So, OEMs are limited to offering 48MP resolution as of now,” said Judd Heape, sr. director product management, Qualcomm.
So, if slightly older processors like Snapdragon 845 and 710 already offered support for 192MP images sensors, why the sudden hype now?
The answer is simple. Qualcomm has clarified that the company hasn’t added any extra update to the ISP or DSP to incorporate support for 192MP sensors. These processors always had support for up to 192MP sensors. Qualcomm did not talk about it much because there was no hype about 48MP camera previously during the time of Snapdragon 845 or 710 phones.
But given the sudden 48MP hype, Qualcomm thought it is wise to reveal the true camera capabilities of these processors now.
As far as 48MP sensors are concerned, Sony IMX586 and Samsung ISOCELL GM1 are the only available image sensors that support a maximum of 48MP resolution. This means if Sony or Samsung makes a image sensor to claim a total of 192MP resolution, then any OEM would be interested in a smartphone powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 (or any other supported processor and add that image sensor to claim a 192MP camera. Mercifully, this looks like is not going to happen anytime soon.
However, you might soon see smartphones with 64MP or over 100MP cameras. “Catering to this megapixel race, while we are ready to cater up to 192MP resolution, it is highly unlikely that smartphone OEMs would actually launch a 192MP camera phone because there is no means to do so now as there are no image sensors that will allow it.”
However, Heape does say that there is an interest among brands – quite naturally – to launch phones with more megapixel cameras. As he says, “There could be phones with 64MP or even over 100MP resolution cameras this year. Image sensors with 64MP resolution will be launched later this year while the sensors over 100MP resolution would be launched by the end of this year. But there will be nothing close to 192MP sensors,” said Heape. So, is it about megapixels, processors or sensors? It’s actually a combination of all three as Qualcomm says. Although the adage “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder” is certainly being morphed into “beauty lies in the eyes of the smartphone holder”.