Camera and photography have become central to delivering advanced smartphone experiences. Smartphone brand differentiation transcends the “megapixel race”. The next generation competition has moved on to adding innovative smartphone camera capabilities for professional photography and videography experiences.
These capabilities range from adding high-resolution photos in advanced RAW formats to high-resolution videos:
- Rich 8K video and still photos
- 4K/8K HDR, higher frame rates
- Advanced still photography / video bokeh, in slow motion
- HEIC/RAW capture higher bits
- Accelerated computer vision features
- AI-assisted photography
- Capture in Low Light and Ultra Night
- Shutter speed, zoom, auto focus, multi capture, panorama, macro and partial shooting
- Photo Security Engines
- Improvements with image sensors
- Dedicated camera modules with advanced optical image stabilization, lens groups, and multi-sensor systems
- Partnerships with industry-leading IP camera technology companies
- Deeper app integration, intuitive and feature-rich camera user interface
However, most of these features are highly dependent on SoC core company and its capabilities such as advanced ISPs, artificial intelligence, software algorithms, memory channels, optimizations, and more. Core chipset capabilities are key to unlocking advanced camera-related features and industry-first experiences.
Apple has done well with the iPhone 13 Pro series in photography and video capabilities thanks to the powerful A15 Bionic with a newly designed ISP. However, in the Android camp and among smartphones in general, Qualcomm’s latest flagship platform on the first-generation Snapdragon 8 & 8+ has set a very high standard for “industry-first” camera innovations that help many OEMs differentiate so strongly between the iPhone’s capabilities in Outstanding market. Snapdragon innovations and these joint improvements help Android OEMs stand out and compete well with industry-leading smartphone camera experiences.
With the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor based on 4nm, Qualcomm has unveiled a new suite of premium camera features and technologies, called snapdragon sight. The Snapdragon Sight is based on the first 18-bit Qualcomm Spectra ISP processor, which is a huge leap from the 14-bit ISP of the previous generation. This means that Computer Vision ISP software (CV-ISP) can capture 4096x more camera data at speeds of up to 3.2 gigapixels per second, and capture 240 12MP images in one second.
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 featuresTriple 18-bit ISPs– a first in the industry – capable of capturing over a billion colors from three cameras simultaneously and up to 200MP sensors. CV-ISP contains several engines dedicated to providing hardware acceleration for multiple camera features:
- The Mega Multi Frame (MMF) The engine combines a set of 30 18-bit images in night mode and captures 5x more detail for high quality Low light photos.
- The ultra wide or engineering correction engine (GCE) helps correct lens distortions, exposure compensation, chromatic aberrations, and correct angles in Ultra wide angle 120/140 degree panoramic photos.
- The Depth from surround sound (DFS) The engine helps estimate the depth map from the stereo sensors, allowing the chip to add a bokeh effect to 4K videos.
- The dense motion map (DMM) The engine takes advantage of hybrid deep learning and semi-dense optical streaming to remove silhouette effects in embedded video frames, which is key to achieving high-quality HDR video.
- The face detection (FD) The engine takes advantage of 3D AI/deep learning-based facial feature detections to detect faces with 95% accuracy, allowing for newer use cases such as gender, emotion, expression, gaze detection, avatar overlay and geometric customization. This is good news for AR, Metaverse, and IoT applications.
- The Super Precision Engine (SRE), For the first time, it allows users to capture 8K HDR video at 30 frames per second (FPS) and Capture at once 64MP photos, 4K arithmetic HDR @ 120fps, 10-bit HEIF, HEIC photo, and video super zoom. It also supports several video capture formats – HDR10+, HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vision.
As a result, Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 has been the SoC’s first choice for flagship models ranging from Android OEMs such as Samsung, Xiaomi, OPPO, OnePlus, vivo, HONOR, realme, Sony and ZTE. All of these OEMs have worked hard with Qualcomm and ISVs to select the best features and put them from the extensive list of Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 CV-ISP capabilities to design and deliver a powerful set of camera features to users. This helped many of them dominate DxOMark Smartphone Camera RatingsThe industry-leading standard for various features.
Source: Counterpoint Research Smartphone Camera & SoC Analysis, DxOMark
Some examples of collaboration between OEMs, sensor suppliers, independent software vendors, and Qualcomm to unleash the outstanding camera capabilities of CV-ISP drives from software to sensors:
Honor Magic4 Ultimate
- HONOR Magic4 Ultimate powered by Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 with 18-bit ISP and Mega Multi Frame (MMF) ENABLE ENGINE HEIC 10-bit image capture for advanced imaging experiences.
- Qualcomm Spectra ISP with Super Precision Engine (SRE) It also supports high throughput of multithreading and parallel processing, enabling innovative user experiences such as advanced snapshot capabilities while recording 4K videos.
Counterpoint Strategic Pioneer Review HONOR Magic4 Ultimate he is over here
Xiaomi 12 Pro
- Xiaomi focused on taking advantage of Super Precision Engine (SRE) To deliver 8K HDR and HDR10+ computational video capture, taking full advantage of the 3.2G pixel pipeline.
- The Xiaomi 12 Pro features a 1/1.28-inch 50MP Sony IMX707 sensor, which is closely optimized with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 thanks to the Qualcomm and Sony Partnership To deliver ultra-high-definition detail, clarity and uniform colours.
- Xiaomi also benefits Sony DOL-HDR And the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 ISP’s Mega Multi Tire Engine And the Dense Motion Map Engine (DMM) Capture multiple exposures simultaneously and improve low light and shadows caused by moving objects.
OnePlus 10 Pro
- OnePlus 10 Pro features HEIC 10-bit photo capture, 8K video, 4K video at 120 fps, and Slo Mo capture using Snapdragon’s Super Precision Engine (SRE).
- OnePlus 10 Pro sports Sony IMX789 and 12 bit RAW Shoot with Hasselblad Pro mode to enable computational shooting elements.
- OnePlus 10 Pro also raises the bar ultra wide or engineering correction engine (GCE) to support 150° ultra-wide view and least-distorted edges.
With the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, we see a new wave of flagships like Xiaomi 12S series, Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4. Galaxy Z Flip 4, OnePlus 10T, Realme GT2, Moto Edge30 Ultra, etc. in H2 2022 to build unique camera experiences on many of the above mentioned capabilities. Watch this space for more reviews of these latest devices from Counterpoint Labs.
The camera has become a major distinguishing factor for most smartphone manufacturers. They embrace the wide range of imaging, video and artificial intelligence capabilities available in the selected SoC to differentiate themselves from the competition. The well-chosen capabilities are then fine-tuned with the camera sensor and modules, and optimized via software algorithms. Despite using the popular Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 platform, there are a large number of capabilities that OEMs can take advantage of to compete and differentiate, making the entire platform and stack extremely versatile.
Qualcomm undoubtedly leads this space with its SoC-level capabilities to drive premium innovations and deliver advanced “industry-first” camera experiences. Moreover, OEMs have also been adept at forging key partnerships with imaging IP companies such as Dolby, Leica, Carl Zeiss, and Hasselblad to stand out on top of these high-end features available via the Snapdragon chipsets. We don’t see this trend stopping any time soon.
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