Google Pixel 4 Rear Camera


It should come as a surprise to no-one that Google is planning a hugely upgraded camera for the Pixel 4 expected later this year. Thanks to Google’s own Twitter account, we already know it will feature multiple rear lenses, and now, thanks to details hidden within the code of the Google Camera app, we have a good idea what form at least one of those lenses will take.

Multi-camera setups can come in many different forms, based on various combinations of sensors sizes, image resolutions and lens types, and Google’s teaser photo alone isn’t enough to determine what type of lenses have been employed.

However, version 6.3 of the Google Camera app contains within the code references to several unreleased features and also, as the team over at Xda Developers recently reported, details of new camera sensor IDs and telephoto modes.

According to the report, Google has added a new field referencing an ‘UNZOOMED TELEPHOTO’ mode as well as a sensor ID named ‘REAR TELEPHOTO’ alongside the more familiar looking ‘REAR REGULAR’ ID. This new sensor ID is a strong hint that the second rear camera will feature a telephoto lens rather than any other alternative such as a wide angle option or a duplicate of the main lens.

What improvements can we expect?

Although the Pixel 3’s Super Res Zoom function delivers incredible telephoto capability for a single-lens camera, it’s still a long way off what can be achieved with a dedicated optical telephoto lens. While the lens pictured in Google’s Twitter posting doesn’t look like an advanced periscopic model such as those found in Huawei’s P30 Pro or the OPPO Reno 10x Zoom, the combination of Super Res Zoom technology with an optical telephoto lens is sure to produce much better results than the Pixel 3.

The lack of a wide-angle lens, however, will come as a disappointment to many as an equivalent effect can’t be achieved without additional optical components. If no extra lens is available, ‘zooming’ in can be achieved with cropping and clever software, but ‘zooming out’ requires switching to panorama mode which is obviously far less convenient in most scenarios.

What we don’t know at this point is whether the regular camera will retain the same field of view as that of the current Pixel 3. Perhaps giving that camera a slightly wider angle than the current model and combining it with input from the telephoto lens would offer some form of compromise.

It’s also worth noting that, while I’m sure it has no bearing on Google’s design decisions, DxOMark Mobile currently scores the performance of telephoto lenses, but ignores wide-angle ones. The Pixel 4 would, therefore, gain points for its improved zoom without losing any for the lack of wide-angle capability.

In any case, when it comes to Google cameras, it’s always wise to expect the unexpected.


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