Asus has been in the computers industry for years. With the worldwide PC sales shrinking, the Taiwanese company started trying its luck with the tablets and smartphones. Although not a commercial hit, its Transformer line of convertible devices have been in the limelight. Lukewarm market response hasn’t stopped the company from building crazy products such as the PadFone, which is a combination of phone and tablet. In PadFone, the handset works independently, but the tablet’s processing needs are handled by the companion phone. What really helped the company cement its place in the smartphone market are the ZenFone series handsets. Showcased at the CES 2014 and first released in India, the ZenFone 5 has been selling like hot cakes in our country. Its success is no fluke, as it’s a solid Android phone available at an affordable price. I can even say that the ZenFone has been one of best budget smartphones of 2014. The only thing we didn’t like about it is its online only sales strategy.
To fill in the shoes of its popular ZenFone 5, Asus has planned something special. Going by the 10 second teaser on Asus’ Facebook page, it seems that we will be seeing a budget or mid-range smartphone with interesting camera features. Asus stays away from the high-end segment probably to avoid competition with its Taiwanese compatriot HTC. No prizes for guessing that the announcement will take place at the CES 2015 in the US. What the teaser reveals is an unusual rear camera setup featuring, not one, but three lenses. So there are two additional lenses, below the main camera. Don’t confuse them for the camera flash as the LED flash assembly has been placed above the main camera module.
At this point I am not sure what unique feature this camera offers. Looking at the similar imaging hardware coming from other phone manufacturers such as LG, HTC, and Huawei, we can expect one of the following three features:
Similar to the HTC One (M8) and HTC One (M8) Eye, Asus could have added a depth sensor to its camera. The only visible difference seems that Asus has decided to go with two depth sensors over HTC’s one. Using the data coming from the depth sensors, the upcoming ZenFone might allow you to experiment with the point of focus. Since the additional information has been captured on the phone, you can change the focus point even after clicking the photograph. DSLR users would know it as the tilt-shift photography. On HTC’s phones, this feature is called UFocus. Currently, it is only available on premium phones. Asus can get good market response by delivering such feature in the budget or mid-range category.
Back in 2011, the LG Optimus 3D and HTC Evo 3D smartphones featured a 5 megapixel dual camera setup. As their names suggest, these camera phones had stereoscopic lens assembly to shoot 3D content. And to display 3D content, these two phones were fitted with stereoscopic screens that used parallax barrier to render 3D effect without the need for the viewer to wear 3D glasses. It’s possible that Asus might want to add similar features to its new smartphone. We all know that 3D is fun for first few hours. After that, it becomes a nuisance by causing eye strain and nausea in some cases. Neither LG nor HTC had a successful run with these 3D camera smartphones. It will be interesting to see if Asus could address these issues and make 3D tech cool again.
Shutterbugs would know that a camera lens needs to capture sufficient light to produce good photographs. Bigger the sensor and aperture, better the image quality. Sadly, you can’t implement such sensors on a smartphone camera due to the size constrains. Huawei seems to have solved this issue by adding an extra lens to achieve variable aperture values – from f/0.96 to f/16 (F-stop). Two sensors capture twice the light compared to the conventional setup. In Huawei’s phone, the main camera is an auto-focus one with f/2.0 accompanied by a fixed focus sensor with f/2.4 aperture. Using some clever software algorithm, the phone allows you to control aperture values. According to the Chinese manufacturer, such camera setup also delivers swift focusing. It would be great if Asus brings similar feature on budget.
Asus has got us intrigued about its upcoming phone. The phone will be unveiled in a few days. So in the CES 2015, apart from Samsung, Sony, HTC, and Microsoft, we have Asus to watch out for. Let’s hope that it will be worth the hype.