What you need to know

  • Samsung Electro-Mechanics has begun mass production of a 5X optical zoom camera.
  • The camera module runs sideways in length and is a total of 5mm thick.
  • There is no word on which phone will be the first to use the module.

Smartphone cameras have come a long way over the last couple of years and manufacturers are still finding new ways to innovate. One of the big standouts last year came from the Huawei P30 Pro and its periscope zoom camera. Now, it looks like Samsung is finally ready to fire back with its own 5X optical zoom sensor.

The news comes after the announcement that Samsung Electro-Mechanics has begun mass-producing a 5X optical zoom camera module.

One of the biggest difficulties in designing a zoom lens for a phone is space. Phones these days are super slim and manufacturers are always looking for ways to make them thinner, not thicker. A zoom lens on a camera requires a longer distance between the sensor and the lens in order to create the zoom effect.

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That poses a problem for making the phone thinner. At least it did until last year when Huawei showed off its 5X zoom camera in the P30 Pro which used horizontal space and a mirror to solve the problem.

Samsung takes the same approach and has produced a module which is 5mm thick. In comparison, the 2X optical zoom modules are 6mm thick. So, not only is it able to zoom further, but it accomplishes this while being thinner.

Now that we know Samsung is mass-producing the modules, the question is what phone are they producing the 5X zoom for? The natural assumption would be for the Note 10, which is rumored to have a vertical camera layout. By utilizing that design, it would provide the space required to include a camera which lies horizontal in the phone.

However, in recent years we've seen Samsung buck the trend of only putting innovative technologies in its flagships. Most notably is the Samsung Galaxy A9 that was the first phone to launch with four rear cameras. It's quite possible Samsung could try experimenting again and launch its 5X zoom camera on a phone other than the Note 10.

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