Apple often doesn’t do new things first, especially when it comes to smartphones. But there’s no denying that an iPhone launch often sets the tone for the upcoming flagship year. We’ve seen this countless times before: with the discontinuation of 3.5mm headphone jacks in 2016, and more recently with facial recognition technology and built-in chargers.
All Android manufacturers, especially big ones like Samsung, Xiaomi, and Oppo, want to invite comparisons with Apple’s handset. Some, like Huawei, even tried to outdo the iPhone, dubbing ideas like 3D Touch, which ultimately turned out to be technological dead ends.
And so, as we head into the 2022 release cycle, macro photography looks to be the next major iPhone feature borrowed by the best Android phones for the next 12 months. The iPhone 13 Pro can capture impressive close-ups thanks to its enhanced ultra-wide camera, as AC’s Harish Jonnalagadda writes in his review:
I’ve used dedicated macro lenses on over a hundred Android phones, and most of the time they’re not worth it. However, there are a few devices like the Mi 11 Ultra that rely on the 50MP wide-angle lens for taking macro photos, and they do a good job of getting closer to the subject. The iPhone 13 Pro Max uses a similar system; As the wide-angle lens has autofocus, it switches to macro mode when you are close to an object, allowing you to take pictures from just 2cm away.
That said, I had a lot of fun using this mode on the iPhone 13 Pro Max, and the only thing missing is a dedicated toggle to turn the feature on or off. Right now this is done automatically, but there are a few scenarios – mostly at night – where macro mode isn’t as good, and in those situations I want to be able to turn it off manually.
Again, Apple is not the first to do this – Huawei’s P20 Pro picked up on similar photographic tricks in 2018 – but it’s the first to position it as a big selling point and a staple in the smartphone camera arsenal.
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Android phones have included macros in the past, but few have taken it seriously.
Android makers have a lot of experience with macro cameras, but these have been largely an afterthought – 5 or 2 megapixel units that produce grainy photos, the quality of which deteriorates rapidly in the background. low light conditions. I’ve called them “sticker cameras” before because they’re about as useful as a sticker on the back of a phone for the average user. Even large phones like the OnePlus Nord 2 have fallen victim to the ever-increasing number of these sticker cameras. The idea is good, but not many phone makers think of backing it up with the necessary hardware muscle.
While macro photography in the iPhone 13 Pro will certainly accelerate the adoption of questionable-quality macro shooters in mid-range androids, it should also push high-end camera makers to pay attention to this neglected area of the camera. photography. In terms of the optics of a smartphone camera, it’s not difficult to modify your ultra-wide lens to allow for a closer focal length. Samsung, for example, already does this to some extent with its “focus enhancement” mode on the Galaxy S21 Ultra, which automatically switches to the ultra-wide camera when the camera subject is up. less than a few centimeters. A natural step would be to adapt the ultra-wide shooter to shoot the dual role of an iPhone-style macro shooter in the upcoming S22 Ultra.
Android makers like Huawei, Samsung, and Xiaomi now include periscope telephoto lenses that let you capture distant subjects with sharp focus. If you’ve used this type of camera, you’ll know how much this extra diversity changes the way you plan to take photos with a phone.
If done right, the macro capabilities of a phone camera can be just as useful and creative as the regular telephoto, super-telephoto, or ultra-wide. This is especially true when paired with high-quality video capabilities of the kind that Apple’s new flagship can boast of. Apple’s adoption of the feature will certainly push it further into the mainstream as an expected feature in phones at a certain price point. And if that happens, anyone who buys a high-end phone will be better off for it.