New flagship smartphones from LG Innotek will have true optical zoom lenses.

 New flagship smartphones from LG Innotek will have true optical zoom lenses.


A telephoto module with actual moving optics to cover a 4–9x range has been presented by the manufacturer of camera componentry; digital zoom is not necessary.

LG Innotek
The camera module uses a tiny, precise actuator to move the lens between 4x and 9x telephoto settings

Even though LG no longer manufactures smartphones, LG Innotek continues to be a significant provider of mobile camera modules. At CES 2023, it will unveil a new telephoto zoom camera module with genuine, continuous optical zoom. In order to accelerate the deployment of its innovative technology alongside the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 in upcoming top Android phones, the business is collaborating with Qualcomm.

While the majority of lengthy smartphone cameras employ digital zoom to extend beyond their original focal length, which degrades image quality, LG’s design uses moving lenses, similar to a real DSLR camera lens, which maintains image clarity. To reduce overall size, this camera module also employs a folded-optic design, often known as a periscope lens. The end product is a lens with genuine optical zoom in the 4–9x range.

Oppo is also developing a smartphone with genuine optical zoom, although Sony is currently the only big manufacturer to do so. The new telephoto module LG is exhibiting may span an equivalent range from 100mm to more than 200mm, while the 3.5-5.2x lens on Sony’s Xperia 1 IV is comparable to 85-125mm, which is considerably shorter. In my testing, the Xperia 1 IV’s smaller zoom range significantly reduced the effectiveness of the zoom lens, and participants in MKBHD’s yearly blind smartphone camera test concurred that Sony’s image quality lags barely below the competition.

When trying to snap photos at 200 mm, optical stabilization—which is a requirement—is also a part of this new LG design. The business claims that the module 1 m can move lens elements in 1 m increments by using a tiny, incredibly precise actuator. LG also notes that by using its system, phone makers would be able to place fewer total lenses on the back of their products. In order to save space and electricity, this design combines the 4x and 9x lenses instead of using both.

The camera module will help LG Innotek “solidify the global No. 1 position in the smartphone camera module industry,” according to a press statement from the firm. It already has a good position, largely because Apple is its biggest client. Although it’s unlikely that the iPhone 15 would have a folded-optic telephoto lens, LG appears anxious to integrate its camera technology into a variety of 2023 flagship phones.

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