With reports surfacing that Apple is set to bring Dual Camera setup on all their 5.5-inch smartphones starting from the iPhone 7 Plus, there have been plenty of mummers on what could be achieved with Dual Camera lenses on smartphones. For that matter, Apple, if they do decide to go ahead with the design will not be the first one to bring a Dual Camera setup, as lots of brands in the past have experimented with it. Interestingly, the setup remains a bit of a mystery as a lot can be achieved from it. How would Apple go about it? Nobody really knows obviously, but it makes sense to revisit how brands so far have used this Dual camera setup:
HTC Evo 3D
The very first smartphone that we can recall with a Dual Camera setup was the HTC Evo 3D, which came out as far back as in 2012. The 5MP rear cameras on the device, basically were used to record videos or take pictures in stereographic 3D, which could be viewed on the phone without the need of 3D glasses. Plenty of experts called the experience gimmicky, but at least at that time, when smartphones were not as common as they are today, it was a really bold move by HTC.
HTC One M8
It was a shade over two years until we heard about dual camera lens devices, and it was HTC once again who lead the concept with the HTC One M8. By bringing the configuration to its flagship device, HTC shared the idea to the mainstream world. The secondary lens on the HTC One M8 is used to store the secondary information of an image which included its depth information. Using this depth information, you could do a ton of post-processing in the image and create artificial bokeh by blurring the background off. The solution was not the greatest, but it was an interesting experiment.
The first phone to bring a dual camera setup in 2016 was the LG G5. The flagship device from LG comes with two cameras at the back, the first one being a 16MP unit with a f/1.8 aperture while the second sensor is an extra wide-angle 8MP shooter with f/2.4 aperture. The device basically uses the two cameras as single cameras. You can use either of them to shoot images. The main camera takes wide images, while the extra-wide camera captures, somewhat like a fisheye effect. There is a ton of wide angle distortion as a result and the whole experience is a little underwhelming.
The latest phone to come with the dual camera setup is the Huawei P9. Huawei has worked with Leica on the optics of the P9 and the phone has been widely appreciated. The dual lens on the P9 is a very interesting setup. You basically have two cameras that capture images simultaneously. One camera takes pictures in regular RGB color while the other camera captures monochromotic images. This image generally has higher level of details than what RGB lens can capture. After processing the RGB regular image and high details from the Black and White image, you get images that are really sharp and high in details espcially noticeable in areas of dark highlights.
Several other smartphones like the Xolo Black have also used dual camera setup, but more or less do one of the four things we have mentioned above. Whether iPhone 7 Plus decides to use of the tried and tested tricks of the dual lens that we have mentioned or does something totally different, we will have to wait for the final quarter of the year to find out.