LG Innotek announces a new camera design capable of delivering between 4X and 9X optical zoom from the format of a module thin enough to be slipped into the case of a camera-bump-free smartphone.
Even with innovations such as periscope technology, the inclusion of optical zoom comes with the trade-off of a rather prominent camera-bump, as the camera module cannot be built thin enough to fit into the case of a perfectly flat smartphone. For the vast majority of users, the compromise represents a small price to pay for such a useful feature as optical zoom. But for smartphone manufacturers, the need to accommodate a camera-bump means increased manufacturing costs and abandoning any overly ambitious design choices.
Although LG has long since stepped out of its role as a smartphone manufacturer, LG’s Innotek division continues to be a major supplier of mobile camera modules. Its latest project appears to be a photo module that can switch between two levels of optical zoom.
Labeled an “optical telescopic zoom camera module,” LG’s new product is described as a “micro-component developed for the smartphone by integrating telescopic camera functions usually reserved for professional cameras such as DSLRs or Mirrorless cameras.”
Unlike other periscope cameras offered on phones such as the Galaxy S22 Ultra and Pixel 7 Pro, the solution provided by LG also has the advantage of being able to physically switch between two zoom levels, 4X and 9X, while keeping image resolution intact. While LG doesn’t detail the exact technical solution used, the manufacturer does mention the creation of a new lens design and fundamental changes to the internal structure of the photo mode. Most likely we’re dealing with prism-like lenses, with the zoom level adjusted by sliding the lenses horizontally.
In addition to the announcement covering the hardware side, LG also mentioned a partnership with Qualcomm for image processing software optimization, hinting that the new optical zoom camera could be an exclusive to Snapdragon 8 Gen 2-based flagship phones.