Apple’s iPhone beaten by Sony’s radical new smartphone technology

Apple’s iPhone beaten by Sony’s radical new smartphone technology

Sony’s new Xperia 1 IV has beaten Apple by bringing to market a powerful new smartphone technology that Apple is still working on behind the scenes.

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The innovation lies in the phone’s camera which features three rear-facing lenses, including a 16mm ultra-wide angle, a 24mm wide-angle, and most importantly, a true 85 optical zoom lens. -Brand new 125mm that is unlike anything found on any other smartphone. Sony claims this is the “world’s first true 85-125mm optical zoom lens” in a smartphone.

Why ‘true’ optical zoom

Sony’s true optical zoom lens is different because, until now, almost all ‘optical zoom’ features on a smartphone would be more accurately described as ‘fake optical zoom’.

While these false optical zoom techniques use real telephoto lenses to magnify the subject, the smooth zoom effect between different magnifications is always achieved digitally. This results in a progressive reduction in quality as you zoom in, often with an abrupt change in quality when the camera finally switches to the next lens.

Any form of digital zoom invariably results in compromised image quality, as the image that lands on the sensor must be cropped and enlarged using image processing techniques. As clever as these techniques may be, they cannot match the quality of a true optical zoom lens, which is capable of using the entire sensor area without cropping or additional processing.

Rather, the Sony lens works much like a zoom lens on a professional camera where you can physically adjust the lens to whatever magnification you want without any behind-the-scenes digital shenanigans.

As impressive as it is, Sony’s new lens isn’t the first true optical zoom lens to be found in a smartphone. Think back to 2013 and you might remember Samsung’s Galaxy S4 Zoom, which featured an even more powerful 24-240mm optical zoom lens. To be fair, the important difference here is that Sony’s periscopic lens fits entirely within the body of the smartphone, while the Galaxy S4 Zoom’s protruding motorized lens makes it feel more like a compact camera than a smartphone.

So should Apple be worried about Sony’s new flagship? Absolutely not. The Xperia 1 IV is designed specifically for serious photographers, especially users of Sony’s high-end camera range, and will have limited mass-market appeal. Cutting-edge ‘optical’ zoom has never been a high-priority feature for the iPhone, so I don’t expect Apple to be in a hurry to bring its own version of this technology to market. But now, thanks to Sony, at least we know it’s possible.

Full specifications of the Xperia 1 IV are available in Sony’s recent press release and you can read a full review of the smartphone here at Forbes.

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