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Samsung’s new sensor mixes hardware and software, enabling cheaper dual cameras

The bokeh effects and low light capabilities of dual camera smartphones will soon be easier to find — and without spending so much. On Tuesday, February 6, Samsung announced an Isocell Dual image sensor designed specifically for midrange and budget smartphones.

Dual camera designs are typically included in the pricier smartphones because two cameras means twice as much to implement into not just hardware, but the software as well. Samsung explains that, in order to implement dual cameras, the manufacturer of the device needs to optimize not just the cameras, but the software, and also must work with different vendors in order to make those two cameras a reality.

Samsung’s latest dual-camera sensor, however, attempts to address the difficulty of implementing dual lenses — because it’s not just a sensor. The latest Isocell Dual is an entire camera module that has both the necessary hardware and the software already optimized for those cameras. Samsung says the new option is an industry first for combining both hardware and software into a single solution and should help manufacturers spend fewer resources to implement the dual lenses.

The new complete Isocell Dual options include a 13-megapixel and five-megapixel pair with the refocusing algorithms that create that stronger bokeh or out-of-focus effect in the background. Samsung’s low-light algorithm is being paired with a set of eight-megapixel dual cameras.

Samsung is now selling the complete camera modules to manufacturers — which means it’s too early to tell just how much of a price difference the complete camera module will create for consumers. Samsung says the new option will make it easier for manufacturers to add the feature to mid- and entry-level devices.

“Dual cameras are delivering new and exciting photo-taking experiences on mobile devices,” Ben K. Hur, vice president of System LSI marketing at Samsung Electronics, said in a press release. “Samsung’s total solution for Isocell Dual will make our customers’ product development process easier, allowing them to bring the most optimized dual camera features to a wider range of consumers.”

The camera combo comes a few months after Samsung also created a dual pixel sensor that uses two sides of the pixel, rather than two lenses, to create similar dual lens effects.

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