QLED smartphones still a challenge but multi-cam modules are here to stay: Samsung

Quantum dot LED (QLED) sporting TVs offer improved picture quality and lower power consumption.

Samsung has been a leader as far as smartphone sales are concerned and its flagship devices such as the Galaxy S series as well as the Galaxy Note series have been setting the benchmarks for Android flagship design annually.

A customer prays inside a Samsung showroom in New Delhi, India. Image: Reuters

A customer prays inside a Samsung showroom in New Delhi, India. Image: Reuters

Samsung is one of the few brands that hasn’t (yet) fallen prey to the ‘notch’ or ‘sliding module in a display’ trend that is being seen in a lot of Chinese smartphones. Two things that Samsung devices are well-known for, are its display and the camera. At the Samsung headquarters in Seoul, in the Suwon business district, we got some insights straight from the mobile display and camera team.

One of the reasons Samsung phones haven’t seen any notch style design yet is because the team is focused on making the size of the bezels smaller while ensuring that the phones can still be held easily in the palm. Another area of focus is to not give up on the services being offered, which would have to be optimised for a display with a notch.

According to Harksang Kim, head of Mobile Visual R&D at Samsung Mobiles, “We try and push the bezel as further up as we can. But it’s done ensuring that none of the services we offer are compromised in any way. As consumers want more display real estate we are trying to fulfill that in multiple ways, which you will see in our future models.”

When it comes to Samsung displays, we have been hearing of foldable displays since ages now. There even is a speculative name to the mythical device that will launch with a foldable display - the Galaxy X. And every year, it is expected to launch the following year.

Galaxy X.

Galaxy X.

This has been happening like clockwork since 2013. This year around, Samsung is rumoured to (again) talk about the commercial manufacturing of a foldable device smartphone soon. In fact, rumours have it that Samsung would be talking about it next month at a conference in the US.

When asked about foldable displays, Kim said that Samsung doesn’t want to just develop a foldable display smartphone as a means to extend the screen size. According to him, the foldable display technology has been with Samsung for a while now.

“Simply making a display foldable is not a new innovation, at least from our perspective. At the moment it just provides a larger display. But the research that we are interested in is providing a better user experience in terms of multi-tasking when the screen is unfolded,” said Kim.

On being asked about Samsung’s plans of bringing an in display fingerprint scanner on a future Samsung device, Kim said that Samsung provides three biometric ways of unlocking your device using iris scanning, face scanning, and a dedicated fingerprint sensor.

“We have been preparing for optical fingerprint sensors, however, there are some challenges to it. We want to ensure there’s no scope of snooping using those kind of sensors. Since personal identification is directly linked to personal information, and as that brings potential security risk for consumers therefore we are taking our time developing the in display fingerprint technology,” said Kim.

QLED TVs have already started selling in many markets around the world. The quantum dot LED sporting TVs offer the promise of improved picture quality and lower power consumption. Just like we’ve seen OLED displays making it to the smartphone form factor, is the time ripe yet for a QLED display sporting smartphone?

Representational image. Reuters.

Representational image. Reuters.

“While QLED offers a lot of benefits, there are critical issues incorporating it inside a smartphone,” said Kim.

In a QLED setup, more quantum dots results in better colour reproduction. As smartphone displays have a high dpi resolution, it is difficult to have a large number of quantum dots packed in that small an area for accurate colour reproduction according to Kim. On the other hand if one is too aggressive with adding more quantum dots, then the power efficiency is affected. Safe to say that we are still years away from seeing a QLED display sporting smartphone.

Moving on from the displays, one peculiar thing that we saw Samsung Mobiles do in the recent past is adding more than two camera modules to its smartphones. The Samsung Galaxy A7 comes with three rear cameras, whereas the Galaxy A9 comes with four rear cameras. Where does it stop?

“The idea behind having multiple rear cameras is to offer our customers features that are there on DSLRs, which is a kind of benchmark we look at,” said Kim. By that he meant giving users a choice of lens with different focal lengths to capture different styles of photographs.

For instance, in the Galaxy A7, we get a regular camera module, a zoom lens and an ultra wide angle lens, which reflects that aspect of switching lenses on your DSLR for a particular kind of photograph.

Samsung Galaxy A7. Image: tech2/Amrita Rajput

Samsung Galaxy A7. Image: tech2/Amrita Rajput

But it’s interesting to see this kind of camera module not being part of the flagship series, but the mid-range A series of devices. In our review of the Galaxy A7, we found the implementation of the three lens module on the A7 to be quite decent. There’s of course scope for improvement, such as offering a touch to focus option for the ultra wide angle lens as well, improving low light photography, among other things.

“We are studying the actual use case and benefits of having these multiple camera modules. We plan to expand this technology to other series of products as well,” said Kim.

Kim also mentioned that the camera will not only be used for capturing high-quality images but with the proliferation of AR, it will be used as a means of communication too.

Makes one wonder, will the upcoming Galaxy S10 also have more than two cameras on the rear? Samsung hasn’t confirmed anything, but it wouldn’t be surprising if it did, considering with the A7/A9, Samsung will have had enough data points to take into account.

Disclaimer: The correspondent was invited by Samsung to Seoul, South Korea. All travel and lodging expenses were borne by Samsung India. 

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.