Tech Issues Delay 3D Camera-Equipped Android Phones: Report

Android smartphones equipped with 3D cameras capable of advanced depth sensing are now unlikely to be commercialized before the second half of the year even though first such offerings were initially expected to hit the market by the end of the current quarter, according to DigiTimes Research. 3D sensing technology providers are said to still be struggling with delivering comprehensive solutions and are having particularly significant issues with joining the hardware part of the 3D camera equation with relevant software, as per the same report. The only company that still has a small chance of releasing a depth-sensing Android smartphone in the near future is Xiaomi, insiders suggest, with rumors of the upcoming Mi 7 being equipped with such a technology already being widespread, yet latest reports also indicate the Chinese firm pushed back the release of its flagship to Q3 2018, possibly due to the aforementioned implementation issues.

Apple popularized mobile 3D cameras with the iPhone X last fall as its newest iOS device is equipped with a module capable of delivering accurate face tracking and swift biometric authentication, though the technology came at the expense of a display notch, a polarizing design cue among smartphone enthusiasts. Samsung is presently said to be working on a mobile depth-sensing platform that can be integrated into handsets without resorting to such a cutout but the solution isn't likely to be ready for mass production before early 2019 and should hence debut with the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10 Plus. Huawei is also keen on commercializing a similar offering with the Mate 20 phablet lineup planned to be released in October, as per recent reports.

Neither Samsung nor Huawei — by far the world's largest Android phone vendors — are interested in implementing the currently most advanced 3D technology into their flagship models, with the platform in question being jointly developed by Qualcomm, Truly Opto-electronics, and Himax. The solution itself is limited to Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845, a high-end chip meant to power handsets in the premium segment of the market, yet both Samsung and Huawei have their own semiconductor units dedicated to creating proprietary chips for such products. While most of Samsung's Android flagships sold in North America, Mexico, and China were still equipped with Qualcomm-made chips and will continue to feature such hardware, that's primarily because Qualcomm's patents make using Exynos chips in certain markets more expensive for Samsung than simply licensing Snapdragon-branded hardware but the South Korean company rarely uses their full feature sets. That's possibly why the Snapdragon 845 models of the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus don't have Quick Charge 4.0 support even though the chip itself allows for it and is also why Samsung is unlikely to ever utilize Qualcomm's 3D imaging technology.

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Dominik Bosnjak

Head Editor
Dominik started at AndroidHeadlines in 2016 and is the Head Editor of the site today. He’s approaching his first full decade in the media industry, with his background being primarily in technology, gaming, and entertainment. These days, his focus is more on the political side of the tech game, as well as data privacy issues, with him looking at both of those through the prism of Android. Contact him at [email protected]
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