Huawei appears eager to hold onto its place at the top of DxOMark's best smartphone camera list via the inclusion of traditional zoom. That's based on a recent patent filing pulled from the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) by Tiger Mobiles.
The exact details of the patent aren't readily made clear by the filing but the images are telling. This camera appears to be prepping for an external lens accessory or for one that's built-in.
In the patent images, two sides of the device are shown, both front and back. The front side, nearly devoid of bezels is not the subject of the patent and is relatively boring. The back is something else entirely. In the first image, Huawei's patented design showcases a fairly standard device. It's got rounded corners and a slight camera bump, housing what appears to be one massive lens.
The second image shows something different sketched out. The lens has been extended similarly to how a DSLR lens extends when zooming. Given that Huawei already packs a punch in at least some devices with 50x zoom. But images snapped at that distance aren't necessarily great. This camera could easily enable an even longer digital zoom and best-in-class optical zoom.
So this device could be as big a breakthrough as OPPO's introduction of 10x optical zoom last year.
This camera appears to have a traditional zoom but what form will it take?
It's fairly clear that the Huawei camera in question, or at least the lens, will feature a more traditional zoom. It's less clear how that will be implemented. The devices launched by Huawei over the past couple of years, even after losing Google apps and other Android services, have been stellar. They've sold like it too.
One of the best aspects of those devices has been their cameras, which have consistently performed better than the competition across almost all fronts.
So it's likely been hard for many to imagine how Huawei could improve on that. But improvements to zoom capabilities are among the more obvious area things could get better. And there are two possible ways Huawei could implement something like what is shown in its patent.
The first is via an accessory. But it's already been shown via Motorola's failed Moto Mods platform that isn't necessarily a direction consumers like to go. The other is to include a mechanical apparatus within the smartphone itself that extends the lens from a form-fitting housing. Huawei and others have placed extending mechanisms in phones before. However, those efforts have largely centered around the selfie camera.
Here, if Huawei is going that route, the mechanical housing would presumably be coupled with OIS to prevent shudder while the lens itself would be extended from the rear of the phone. In short, it would appear to work a lot like a traditional DSLR camera.
This might not ever come at all
As noted above, the details here are a bit light. So news that Huawei might release a smartphone with a traditional zoom camera lens shouldn't be taken too seriously. Especially since there's no indication as to how the lens itself would work. As with all patents, the appearance of the design doesn't mean it will ever be used.
With that said, Huawei has also been having a great deal of difficulty holding onto its hardware partners in lieu of US sanctions. And it has, as pointed out earlier, lost access to Google Play Services and apps too. That hasn't necessarily stopped it from selling well and, as of this month, it's actually leading the market. But including a traditional zoom would undoubtedly go a lot further toward helping it stand out.
So there may be a chance this makes a real-world appearance anyway, regardless of how off-the-wall it seems to be.