You may see a phone with a 100 megapixel camera in 2019

The megapixel war between smartphones may be set to returnPixabay

  • Qualcomm predicts that smartphone may have 100 megapixel camera sensor by the end of the year.
  • The company’s Snapdragon 6-series, 7-series and 8-series can already support cameras sensors of up to 192 megapixels.
  • In order to accommodate higher megapixels on to smartphones, Qualcomm expects that vendors will shrink the size of pixels and sensor sizes might increase.
The war over which smartphone camera has the highest megapixels petered out in recent years but with the launch of 48 megapixel cameras this year, it seems the race is back on. Judd Heape, Qualcomm’s senior director of product management, predicts that users may even see 100 megapixel cameras on their phones by the end of the year.

And, by the end of 2020, Heape says expects that smartphone camera sensors may feature a megapixel count in the mid-100s in an interview with Digit.

How do megapixels work?

In order to bring 100 megapixel sensors on to phones, there have to be sensors available in the first place. Then the chipset needs to be able to support them. And last of all, phone manufacturers need to build phone capable of handling and supporting high resolution.

If we work backwards on how 48 megapixel cameras came into existence on the Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro, Oppo F11 Pro, Honor View 20 or the Vivo V15 Pro — the story plays itself out. All of them use either the Sony IMX586 sensor or the Samsung GM-1, both 48 megapixel cameras sensor. And, the phones either run on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 675, Helio P70 or Kirin 980 — chipsets capable of supporting camera sensors with higher megapixels.

In fact, Qualcomm's Snapdragon 670, 675, 710, 712, 845 and 855 can all support camera sensors of up to 192 megapixels. The spec sheet for the chipsets was only updated recently, but the provision has been available all along.

So, the chipsets are ready for 100-megapixel camera sensors, if the sensors exist in the first place.

As of now, the 100 megapixel camera sensor that Sony currently has measures 53.7mm x 40.4mm — much too big for a smartphone — and the cameras that use it cost upwards of $48,000 (₹3 million).

Once such a sensor does come into the market, manufacturers will have to figure out how to accommodate it without making the phone bulkier. Theoretically, a larger sensor would result in a thicker phone and since the lens of the camera is built into the phone, they will also have to figure out how to go about providing larger and longer focal length.

Despite all the buzz around megapixels, Heape points out that users don’t really need anything before 48 megapixels in their phones. The smartphones that already have that capability cause problem with power consumption and create storage issues.

The megapixel war that had once been put to bed might be making a return. Whether or not that good news of smartphone photographers will depend on whether manufacturers can back it up by maintaining the quality of images.

See also:
Xiaomi's Redmi Note 7 Pro just launched in India with a 48-megapixel camera — But will that really make a difference to your photos?

This phone's pop-up selfie camera has more megapixels than the main cameras on most smartphones

Here's why megapixels don't matter on your smartphone camera
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