Chinese mobile phone producer, TECNO Mobile, last week revealed its latest innovations in smartphone camera lens technology. And what revelations they were. Representatives from TECNO and Sony were in Shanghai for TECNO’s Annual Future Lens event for 2023 – Amateur Photographer were right there with them to witness three signature technologies of which the company is justifiably very proud.
Refreshingly, it’s not all software. First, there is a W-shaped Adjustable Physical Aperture. This is the result of a committed attempt to solve a problem hitherto universal in smartphone cameras: that of strong backlight. With fixed apertures, there’s generally a compromise to either background clarity or subject detail. While other makers (notably, Chinese ones) have also recently implemented variable apertures in smartphone cameras, TECNO have the patent on their W-shaped design. For those who can have one, the future of phone camera shots suddenly appears brighter.
TECNO’s next trick – and there is something magical about it – is their industry-first Liquid Telephoto Macro Lens. Yes, liquid lens technology has already brought smartphone photography closer to the fast focus and responsive zoom qualities found in actual cameras. But TECNO take this further by incorporating it in a periscope telephoto camera within a smartphone. Essentially, this makes 5cm macro focusing possible with a small device – previously inconceivable, given the power required. Here, the curvature of the lens is adjusted by electrical pulses, rendering it real-time responsive. It is a considerable achievement to integrate a large sensor in this way – and potentially a game-changer.
The event demonstrated TECNO’s commitment to cracking the hardest nuts in smartphone camera performance. Anyone not yet convinced need look no further than their approach to skin tone.
The company has collaborated with universities worldwide before developing three AI-driven computational engines that will treat colour according to a complex of criteria. It’s fair to say that this goes further than most. One of them their own Computational Portrait Engine that adds “TECNO’s localized aesthetic preferences and cultures”. Make of that one what you will, but to witness these innovations was to be amazed.