Have you ever been embarrassed that Google Pixel smartphones manage to remain one of the top-end camera phones on the market with even one camera? Of course, at the end of last year, the company added another auxiliary module to the single module, but not to say that it radically changed something. It is especially ironic that Google has been equipping its devices with the same module from Sony for three years in a row and at the same time managed to improve the quality of shooting, expand the number of available modes and even bypass competitors with, it seems, unlike more modern cameras.
Google equips Pixel 4 with a 3-year-old camera
Google is deliberately equipping its smartphones of the last three generations with the same camera module due to the lack of fundamental changes in this area. Mark Levoy, the former head of camera development for the Google Pixel, spoke about this in an interview with The Verge. According to him, this industry is developing rather slowly, and to break down and abandon already debugged equipment in favor of new equipment, even if it offers a slightly higher quality of shooting, is a rather controversial development scenario from the point of view of efficiency.
Why the Pixel can shoot so well
Google is optimizing the software of its cameras too well, and this replaces it with a hardware upgrade.
The mobile camera industry is fairly well developed. It continues to improve further, but this is not a quick process, the result of which can only be seen through the prism of several years. One variable that is of great interest to smartphone manufacturers is the noise level in the resulting photo. As noise is reduced, you can take better pictures in less light. As soon as Sony offers something a little better, everyone immediately grabs on to it. But I'm not sure if this is critical for photography, Levoy said.
Google is not chasing the latest sensors unless it sees some dramatic change in them. Therefore, Pixel 3, Pixel 4, Pixel 4a, and most likely Pixel 5 all have the same camera modules. The fact is that Google managed to optimize its software for working with these modules so qualitatively that if you change them now to something more modern, this will practically not affect the result, but at the same time it will take a lot of time and effort from developers to re-finish software. This is completely disadvantageous in terms of funding.
Why triple cameras are needed
Additional camera modules do not improve photo quality
And, as for the trend for the introduction of additional camera modules, which are so popular today among most manufacturers, then Google has formed its own attitude towards it. In expanding the functionality of its smartphones, Google is guided by the principle of expediency. Before implementing something, the company asks the question, will anyone need it? Here it is called the effect of a toothbrush: the thing must be used at least twice a day to be considered useful. This does not happen with the third and fourth camera modules.
In my opinion, this is a very sane position. After all, if you look closely, there is hardly at least one user who takes pictures with a macro and ultra wide-angle lens several times every day. It's just that in everyday life it really isn't necessary. Google understands this, and therefore does not seek to increase the number of camera modules. Their presence will in no way improve the quality of shooting in the usual mode, in which the vast majority of all images are taken, but it will load hard, software, and the user's wallet, who will have to pay for it.