Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon chipsets can handle 192-megapixel image sensors
This is likely one of those future-proofing things that we often see manufacturers put into their hardware. Like the 2TB microSD card limit on many Android smartphones, even though 1TB cards were only just recently announced and aren’t quite available yet. But Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 670, 675, 710, 845 and 855 models all seem to support a somewhat insane 192-megapixel camera sensor.
But even if it is just future-proofing, the fact that Qualcomm might see the potential for camera smartphones to get even close to that is rather telling. Of course, at 192-megapixel, you do lose some features. There’s no multi-frame processing, so no HDR, noise reduction or faking neutral density shots. It would also only allow for a single rear camera, too, with no front-facing selfie cam.
For more reasonable, but only slightly more reasonable considering it’s a phone, the chipsets also support 48-megapixel camera modules which do allow for things like multi-frame noise reduction, zero shutter lag, HDR, etc.
Even 48-megapixel is pretty insane for phones, though. Currently, the recently announced Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 features a Samsung 48-megapixel camera module, although that uses the Snapdragon 660 chipset. So its 48-megapixel camera hits the same limitations that a 192-megapixel camera would with the new chipsets. That means no multi-frame noise reduction, HDR or zero-shutter-lag, but it should offer some indication as to what one might expect from a theoretical 192-megapixel camera smartphone.
I imagine most manufacturers will use the more powerful processors for 48-megapixel cameras, taking advantage of those multi-frame features. But I am curious to see if anybody will actually release a 192-megapixel phone. I can’t imagine it would be very good, though.
John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.