OnePlus is pushing the dual-camera setup on its new flagship harder than anything else, as it should. Things look bright for the new sensor and early results are promising. However, there is one thing the company hasn’t been too clear about — the “optical zoom” feature enabled by that extra lens.
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Like on the iPhone 7 Plus and ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom, the OnePlus 5’s dual-camera consists of one standard lens and a telephoto lens which is zoomed in compared to the standard lens. This enables a form of optical zoom which, by its nature, doesn’t lose any quality. OnePlus’ website and the announcement both claimed that as 2.0x “lossless” zoom, but Carl Pei revealed that this isn’t quite the case.
Instead of zooming in 2.0x solely by the telephoto lens, OnePlus employs a bit of digital zoom to accomplish that number. The telephoto lens on the OnePlus 5 zooms in 1.6x while the remaining bit is taken care of via “SmartCapture multiframe technology,”
aka digital zoom. Update: OnePlus reached out to explain that the SmartCaputre feature actually takes multiple images to gather more detail rather than cropping the original image taken by the camera sensor.
That’s certainly disappointing, but it does explain the quality difference between the two sensors. It would be nice if OnePlus enabled the option to use only the 1.6x optical zoom, but that’s not available for now. The OnePlus 5 is available now starting at $479.