One, two, three or even four: what are the benefits of each smartphone camera?

Today is National Camera Day in the U.S., and to celebrate, we’re breaking down all the benefits of the different smartphone camera sensors that currently exist in the market. 

Today’s smartphones have two, three, or even up to four cameras – each capable of offering different features that can be confusing to a user. What’s the point of each one? Do they all work together at the same time? And is more megapixels synonymous with better photos? 

All of these are valid questions and depending on your hobbies and lifestyle the type of camera you need varies. For example, if you’re the type who takes a lot of selfies or close-up pictures, then a smartphone with a depth sensor or macro camera is ideal. On the other hand, if mountain and city landscapes or group photos are more your style, then a wide-angle camera sensor is necessary so that you don’t stray away from the scene and can fit everyone in the frame. 

To ease any confusion, we’ve broken down the benefits of each type of camera sensor that currently exists in the market, so that you can choose a smartphone according to your needs: 

main camera sensor

The main camera sensor is the one used by default by your smartphone for quick photo capturing. With the addition of Artificial Intelligence features, this camera sensor can actually recognize your scene and apply specific settings automatically to get the best photo possible. Additionally, on some smartphones, AI offers other cool photo editing features like spot color – which allows you to highlight a specific part of the photo in one color and leave the rest of the scene black and white.

depth camera sensor

The depth camera sensor always works in conjunction with the main camera sensor and is designed to identify the background of a scene. This is the sensor that allows you to subtly blur out the background of your image (bokeh effect) while highlighting the details of your subject – or vice versa. 

This camera sensor makes the images look more realistic by imitating what the human eye does so that your brain interprets which objects are on the same plane and which are not. Need proof? Get up close and personal with any object so that it’s about 30 centimeters from your face – you’ll see that the background loses sharpness. If you look behind it, the object is the one that now looks fuzzy. 

wide-angle camera sensor

Tall buildings, landscapes, monuments, or group photos all require walking further away from the camera so that you can fit everything into the frame. A solution to this problem is the wide-angle or ultra-wide-angle camera lens, which allows you to expand your viewing angle and make room in the frame for everything you want to capture. 

This camera works on its own, and on some smartphones like the moto g8 plus and motorola one action, this sensor is used to allow users to record videos vertically and view them horizontally, without losing the details of the whole scene. 

telephoto camera sensor

This camera is the one that allows you to optically zoom without sacrificing on image quality, avoiding the graininess that digital zooming often causes. In other words, it does the opposite of the wide-angle sensor, bringing you closer to the subject you want to photograph without losing focus. You might be asking yourself how digital zoom is different from optical zoom. Well, it uses software to crop the image and enlarge the result, resulting in a lower quality photo than that of an optical zoom sensor. 

macro vision camera sensor

This sensor is intended to be one of the most innovative among smartphones in 2020, because it allows users to quickly capture small details at very short distances, without losing focus as a normal camera sensor would. 

One of the first of its kind on a smartphone came from the motorola one macro, which promises to zoom in up to two centimeters away from your subject without sacrificing on image quality. 

the myth of the megapixels

Finally, more megapixels is not synonymous with better photos. Why? Because the number of megapixels actually speaks to the resolution of the camera – a parameter that affects the size of the image, not the quality. The number of megapixels allows you to estimate how much an image can be enlarged without losing its sharpness, but if the photo is only intended for social sharing then that parameter probably doesn’t matter all that much. 

What is important is the size of the pixels –  the small dots that make up a digital image. “We can combine them together to create larger pixels with greater sensitivity to light,” said Matthew Biggerstaff, Director of Engineering, Camera Design at Motorola. “By using Quad Pixel technology, we can capture high-quality photos even in low-light environments,” he said.

Today, the camera system is one feature that really allows brands to stand out from competitors and can cater to different types of consumers. To learn more about Motorola’s smartphones and which camera might be right for you please visit motorola.com.