Oppo didn’t show off any smartphones at the MWC 2017 but they showed off something more impressive, a deceptively simple way to alleviate the camera bump problem in increasingly thin smartphones. Oppo basically just used the simple laws of reflection to design a dual camera system. They put in a telephoto lens facing sideways (perpendicular to the first camera) instead of forward in the phone and reflected the image coming in from the sensor through a prism into the lens. So the lens zooms sideways now, eliminating the camera bump.
Now it seems like a solution a five-year-old could have come up with but that begs the question, what in the world have the big tech companies been doing these past 3 years. The camera bump has been a problem for the iPhone 6, 6S and 7, the OnePlus 3, the Nexus 5X and 6P as well as Nokia phones going back even further (remember the 41-megapixel Nokia 1020?). This makes the Apple 2x zoom look weak. Even more so when Oppo said that the camera module is 5.7 mm thick, and so, 10% thinner than the standard ones offering 2x optical zoom. Oppo also added optical image stabilisation for the telephoto lens and the prism so it doesn’t look like you’re having a seizure while taking pictures. Oppo also claims that its OIS is 40% better than other phones as it’s accurate to 0.0025 of a degree. The camera has an aperture of f/2.0.
Beyond the 5x, the camera goes to a digital zoom of 10x but that will definitely look clearer than on other standard phone cameras. The camera itself produces 13-megapixel snaps which look pretty good but there’s a catch. Between 1x and 5x, the quality is a bit “iffy” for the 2x, as stated by Ars Technica. The algorithm that stitches together images for the latter needs work. But obviously, this is a prototype for an exhibition, by the time Oppo launches a flagship smartphone with these specs everything will hopefully be sorted.
Oppo has recently promoted its camera phones aggressively with the F1 and F1s selfie experts being promoted heavily in Asian markets. Though Oppo doesn’t have a big market share in America, this innovation might just catch the eye of the niche user. If Oppo can step up to the plate with the big boys like Apple and Samsung like Xiaomi and OnePlus, it may have a chance because of its camera.