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January 31, 2019

World’s First Smartphone 48MP Camera

An In-depth Look into the HONOR View20's Photography Prowess


Smartphone photography has become so impressive now. Following the improvements made to software and hardware technology, as well as phone manufacturers' tireless pursuits in meeting customer demands, smartphones have succeeded in fitting all kinds of technology into a small space, such as telephoto lens, wide angle lens, dual-lens setup, and a triple-camera array. So, what other new photography features can smartphone have?

HONOR released its latest flagship, the HONOR View20, in Paris on Tuesday, January 22. In addition to the amazing TOF 3D camera that has paved the way for various 3D functions on a handset device, another amazing camera feature of this new model is its 48 effective megapixels, the industry's highest pixel count to date brought to life by SONY's IMX586 Stacked CMOS image sensor.

Thanks to the high pixels count, combined with the 3D TOF camera for faster low-light autofocus and more accurate edge detection when shooting in portrait mode, HONOR View20 has once again set a new benchmark in mobile photography.

▪ SONY IMX 586: Top image sensor in the industry

The 1/2-inch sensor has a whopping 48 effective megapixels and can capture images in high detail.

Some may worry that a higher pixel count could reduce the single pixel size, subsequently affecting the sensor's imaging quality at nighttime. But this is not a problem with the IMX586.
The Quad Bayer array is used to output binned 2x2 pixels and increase the photosensitive surface to the level equivalent to that of a 1.6μm pixel, thereby significantly improving the IMX586's light capturing capability and reducing image noise in low light conditions.

So rest assured that you can have the best of both worlds when using the IMX 586, as no compromise is made between pixel count (detail reproduction) and pixel size (light sensitivity).

▪ 48MP AI Ultra Clarity mode

Although the pixel count has surpassed many people's expectations, there is even more to come with this specification.

On the HONOR View20, the 48MP camera has been designed to take advantage of the cutting-edge Kirin 980 chipset and create an innovative photography mode: 48MP AI Ultra Clarity.

When this mode is enabled, the HONOR View20 takes multiple shots with just one push of the shutter and uses the image processing capability of the Kirin 980's dual-ISP to synthesize the best parts of each shot into one final photo.

This final product will then be comprehensively analyzed by the Kirin 980's dual-NPU, with an advanced AI algorithm in operation to optimize color reproduction, minimize overexposure in excessively bright regions, and restore details in the shadows.

That's why the HONOR View20 designers call it ''Ultra Clarity'', as the final image actually outperforms even the standard 48MP picture.

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. So let's have a look.

The photo above was taken in 48MP AI Ultra Clarity mode. If we zoom in on the top of the Eiffel Tower, which is 312 meters above the ground (i.e. that far from the photographer), the details are truly still clear.

Customers can turn this mode on in camera resolution:

▪ AI-enhanced Image Stabilization: Expert Handheld Night Shooting

As mentioned before, the 1/2-inch IMX586 sensor and the Quad Bayer array can together ensure excellent low light camera performance. Coupled with HONOR's proprietary AI Image Stabilization (AIS) technology, the HONOR View20 is capable of good quality night photography.

In Night mode, the camera performs a long exposure to allow more light in. However, you probably all know that in traditional photography a long exposure is mostly catastrophic without a tripod. Even if you think you've been holding the camera as still as you possibly can, the image still comes out blurred and in poor quality. AIS was developed to help you overcome this issue, so that you can be a night photo expert with the HONOR View20 and without the need for a tripod.

This is how AIS works.

(1) The Kirin 980 uses its AI to obtain information from the gravity sensor and the gyroscope, and determine whether the user is holding the phone with their hands.
(2) If yes, HONOR View20 makes several exposures and captures multiple images during the long exposure (between 2 and 6 seconds). Different exposures are used for different purposes: shorter ones to avoid highlight blowout, and longer ones to retain details in dark areas.
(3) The multiple images are analyzed and synthesized through the AIS algorithm to form one final picture, where dynamic range is widened, brightness improved, and noise reduced.

So now you can capture the shining beauty of illuminated cityscapes at night with just a phone!

▪ 960fps Super Slow Motion Video

The HONOR View20 also supports 960fps slow-motion video shooting, which allows you to take a video and then extend 0.2 second of it to between 6 and 8 seconds. You will then be able to admire the wonderful moments that cannot be seen with your naked eye, just as if you're watching the slow motion playback of event highlights on the TV.

▪ AI Selfies with Hardware HDR

On the front of the phone, the HONOR View20 supports the 25MP IMX576 sensor with an F/2.0 aperture. Hardware HDR can work with multi-frame synthesis, which ensure that you always look your best, day or night.

Smart beautification algorithms are also available on the HONOR View20 based on AI semantic segmentation, where you will be perfectly and naturally brought into the spotlight with your best look.

▪ Summary

With many phones rolling out their telephoto or wide-angle lens combinations, the HONOR View20 did not follow suit, but instead went another direction with imagination and ambitions, aiming to offer users more clarity and more magic functions with its 48MP main sensor and TOF 3D camera.

Boasting other innovations like the Kirin 980, such as liquid cooling technology and in-screen front camera, the HONOR View20 is undoubtedly a bold and successful exploration in the recent mobile phone revolution.