The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra had a 3D time-of-flight (ToF) sensor, but while it was supposed to allow for more precise also software-based bokeh, it reportedly didn’t bring much to the table. And because it didn’t improve the camera experience significantly enough, Samsung is reportedly reconsidering its decision to re-add a 3D ToF sensor to the Samsung Galaxy S22 series.
Samsung dropped the 3D ToF sensor in favor of a laser AF system with the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, and it apparently worked so well that they included a similar laser AF sensor in the Galaxy S21 Ultra series as well, which is widely regarded to offer one of the best cameras in an Android smartphone ever.
3D ToF sensors are pretty interesting, and they first debuted in smartphones with the LG G3 (RIP, LG), before making a comeback with the HONOR View20, which was pretty groundbreaking in a number of ways.
It allows the device to chart a depth map to differentiate the subject from the background better, and thus provide for better software-based bokeh. Other cool uses include augmented reality, like how the HONOR View20 and iPhone 12 Pro uses it. It can even be implemented to allow for more precise autofocusing, so the potential is really quite huge.
Cool, but unnecessary
If you look at it, it will mean that the Samsung Galaxy S22 series will be missing out on all these cool functions. However considering that most Android smartphones in the market don’t tout a 3D ToF sensor anyway, there is going to be very little motivation for developers to design apps to take advantage of the technology anyway, which makes it somewhat moot for Samsung to implement one in their upcoming flagship.
Since the cameras on the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has already proven that there really isn’t a need for a 3D ToF sensor to deliver great software-enhanced bokeh, I am glad that Samsung decided against adding a 3D ToF sensor to the Galaxy S22 series, which will definitely further increase the costs of what should already be an eye-wateringly pricey device.
Besides, with the purported partnership with Olympus, they might not even need extra hardware to deliver a groundbreaking photography experience, since Olympus is renowned for their “color science”.
Letting the Chinese brands “beta test” their 3D ToF sensor?
Interestingly enough, Samsung LSI has just announced their latest in-house 3D ToF sensor, the ISOCELL Vizion 33D. Perhaps Samsung intends to sell the sensors to Chinese smartphone makers first before implementing it themselves, just like how they did with the first 108MP sensors designed for smartphones?
Pokdepinion: Dropping gimmicks in favor of actually usable features are always welcome, especially when it can allow the device to be more accessible!