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Hands-on: Oppo’s 5x Dual Camera Zoom system at MWC

Chinese manufacturer Oppo showed off some intriguing new smartphone camera technology at Mobile World Congress 2017 that offers lossless zoom in a low-profile design.

Whilst most of the big mobile manufacturers used MWC to show off new market-ready smartphones like the Sony Xperia XZ Premium and LG G6, Oppo, along with its current product portfolio, unveiled a new technical demo it’s been working on for the past twelve months.

The Oppo 5x Dual Camera Zoom concept is the company’s bid to bring lossless zoom to smartphone cameras without the bulk and the resultant technology comes contained in a module that’s just 5.7mm deep but offers up to 5x magnification without degradation of image quality and up to 10x zoom overall.

The module leverages two 13-megapixel sensors, however, one is turned through 90-degrees along the top edge of the phone’s body and directed through a prism. By being able to extend the second sensor arrangement perpendicular to the phone’s back like a periscope, it’s capable of a 3x optical zoom that’s pushed to 5x by combining the image data from both 13-megapixel sensors, ironing out image shake, improving low light performance and filtering out noise.

Moving the sensor so far away from the prism has its issues, so to counter any severe image shake or distortion, Oppo is using a supercharged optical image stabilisation (OIS) system that not only moves the sensor as the phone is being held but adjusts the relative angle of the prism in 0.0025-degree increments. Collectively, Oppo says it offers up to 40 per cent better image stabilisation versus its older OIS systems.

The real achievement here isn’t necessarily Oppo’s periscope-like design, as that’s actually an innovation credited to Asus’ ZenFone Zoom, which boasted up to 12x maximum zoom, but by shrinking the technology down, Oppo is showcasing a future where smartphones can stay thin and still capture crystal clear shots far away.

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