It looks like Oppo is set to reveal a revolutionary new piece of tech that allows for a 10x optical zoom within the narrow confines of a smartphone. According to an invite sent out to some members of the Chinese press, Oppo will be showing this off in a media event on Wednesday, January 16.
According to TechSpot, the tagline at the bottom of the invite roughly translates to “10 times the view, see you soon” — clearly implying an advance in zoom tech. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Oppo barge to the forefront in camera zoom technology either. Back in 2017, it showed off a 5x optical zoom for smartphones, and though the tech never made its way to any consumer phones, it’s possible Oppo wanted to refine and advance it before releasing it.
This level of optical zoom would have previously been thought to be impossible on such a small device — but Oppo’s method of achieving lossless zoom is pretty ingenious. Rather than extending the camera lens out from the smartphone, Oppo lays the camera’s lens vertically down the phone, then uses a prism to bend light 90 degrees to reach it. With an optical image stabilization system at the end, Oppo ensured the 5x zoom system could get steady, clear images. While there’s little information on the 10x zoom, it’s likely it works on a similar idea.
If you’ve ever zoomed in a smartphone camera it’s likely you were disappointed with the results. Getting a clear zoom usually requires a telephoto lens, and a telephoto lens needs room to work its magic — room that isn’t generally available in ever-thinner smartphones. Smartphone manufacturers have been working on this problem for years, and though 2x zoom lenses are now common in many dual-lens setups, zooming past that is rare. The Huawei P20 Pro uses a 3x telephoto lens and digital enhancements to create a 5x “Hybrid zoom”, while the Pixel 3’s Super Res Zoom uses A.I. to boost zoomed shots.
With Oppo having previous in this category we’re willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume it has cracked a 10x optical zoom. However, it remains to be seen how good it is in practice, and whether Oppo will actually sell this tech in a consumer phone. If it’s at MWC 2019, we’ll be sure to check it out.