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Snapdragon 835 promises superior photo and video: here's how

Qualcomm says Snapdragon 835-equipped handsets will enjoy "lossless" digital zoom, faster autofocus and more accurate colors in both photos and video.

Published onFebruary 2, 2017

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 system-on-a-chip (SoC) is expected to appear in a number of premium phones this year, including a new HTCflagship and the Samsung Galaxy S8. Ahead of its arrival, Qualcomm has outlined some of the photo and video benefits that the chip will offer.

Optical and digital Zoom

Smartphone digital zooms are generally thought to be pretty bad. A number of my colleagues and I — and I’m sure many others — won’t even consider using our phone’s digital zoom because of how much image degradation the process produces.

Qualcomm claims to have made significant improvements in this regard, however, and says that “the Snapdragon 835 processor is designed to address the graininess problem by intelligently combining optical and digital zooms, so photos can be smooth, seamless, and lossless.” Further, Qualcomm notes that the Snapdragon 835 will offer superior zoom performance in videos, too.

This is big talk from Qualcomm and it sounds appealing, but I find it difficult to believe that the 835 would be able to help provide “lossless” zoom quality. If it improves zoom to the point where it’s actually usable, though, then it would be a great achievement.

Fast and accurate autofocus

Autofocus is another area Qualcomm has focused on with its Snapdragon 835 chip: “The goal: Build a truly effective autofocus and help shutterbugs capture even the fastest moving moments,” said Qualcomm.

To do this, Qualcomm employs a Dual Photodiode (2PD) autofocus mechanism — like that seen on the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge — in the Snapdragon 835, which makes every pixel “capable of phase detection and image capture,” rather than only a portion of them. Qualcomm claims this makes the autofocus quicker and more effective.

A lack of alternatives to Qualcomm is hurting the ecosystem

True-to-life colors

Finally, Qualcomm said that the 835 will make use of Qualcomm Clear Sight technology, outlined last year, which combines two cameras — a mono and color image sensor — to produce more realistic colors. “The color filter is removed from the mono (black-and-white) sensor, allowing it to record maximum RGB spectrum light instead of just one specific color,” said Qualcomm.

Once the mono image is applied to the color image, the result is a photograph with more realistic color reproduction even in low-light conditions. Qualcomm also noted that the 835 would deliver similar color enhancements to video recording.

Qualcomm isn’t being shy with lofty claims about the Snapdragon 835 but until I can see the results for myself, I’m trying not to get my hopes up. To find out what else the Snapdragon 835 will mean for your next smartphone, view our explainer article at the link.

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