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Exclusive: Nexus 5 probably won’t feature Lytro-like camera tech (Updated)

DigitalOptics camera Mem
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Check out our review of the Google Nexus 5 smart phone.

The Nexus 5 is potentially the next major smartphone release of the year, and rumors concerning its specification are spreading. The latest deals with the camera, which according to some detective work done by Italian Android blog AndroidWorld.it, could be the first to use DigitalOptics’ Mems|cam camera. This has come about due to the discovery of the camera’s model number, IMX179, which the site linked with DigitalOptics.

We spent some time with the Mems|cam camera during Mobile World Congress, so this was pretty exciting news. The camera module works in a similar way to the Lytro camera, in that focus can be adjusted after a picture has been taken, so different elements can be brought to the forefront and alter the composition of a photo. Its super fast facial recognition was also impressive. It also took up much less space than a Lytro, which is shaped like a cylinder of sorts.

However, an anonymous source with knowledge of DigitalOptics plans has contacted us to pour cold water over what has been a hot rumor until now. “The Nexus rumors are just that,” we were told. The IMX179 is apparently a common 8-megapixel Sony sensor chip, and while it has been used by DigitalOptics before – hence its discovery in their literature – this, “Shouldn’t be taken to mean the next Nexus phone will feature a Mems|cam camera.”

We speculated DigitalOptics’ cool camera may arrive in what eventually became the Oppo N1, as interest in the tech from the up-and-coming firm has been explicitly mentioned by DigitalOptics in the past. This turned out not to be the case, however its appearance is certainly getting closer, as the company announced it had signed a deal with Lite-On to produce the modules in small numbers late this year, with higher volumes expected in 2014.

So, at this stage it doesn’t appear the Nexus 5 will be coming with DigitalOptics’ cool camera technology built-in, but that doesn’t mean deals aren’t still being struck behind closed doors in an effort to get it into a smartphone near you soon.

Updated on 10/09/2013 by Andy: It’s now official, the smartphone manufacturer Oppo has placed an order with DigitalOptics for its Mems|cam modules, and will be the first manufacturer to use the technology. The press release states other rumors connecting it to different smartphones were inaccurate.

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Andy Boxall
Andy is a Senior Writer at Digital Trends, where he concentrates on mobile technology, a subject he has written about for…
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