Smartphone camera and layout difficulties

    Hello, Habr. The layout of modern smartphones is extremely dense. What tricks do developers have to go to effectively use every cubic millimeter of volume, fitting a lot of nodes and parts into more than compact cases. And after all, you need not only to densely pack all the necessary elements, you must constantly remember the effective heat sink. In addition, when choosing components, you always have to find a compromise between quality, price, technical parameters and physical size.

    The struggle for volume is not for life, but for death. And when developing the first YotaPhone, it was especially difficult for us to place the camera, because we did not want to use a more compact, but lower-quality model.

    Volume matters

    Smartphones are becoming thinner - naturally, this is not happening on its own. Electronic components gradually evolve, decrease in thickness, length and width, and become more energy-efficient. And this allows engineers to systematically reduce the thickness of gadgets year after year.

    Unfortunately, situations periodically happen when a particular node or component does not physically fit into the right place. In such cases, you have to "push" the surrounding elements, apply other types, change the design of the device. In smartphones, cameras often “sin” like that. Pay attention to how many smartphones around which the camera lenses protrude somewhat out of the box. This is not a whim of designers, not a manifestation of originality. It was just that the engineers were not able to “drown” the camera module inside the case, or it was not possible to use a more compact version.

    I must say that some users do not like protruding cameras too much. If the lens is not located on the vertical axis of the smartphone, then on a flat hard surface the device will lie a little “inharmonious”. And someone can bring this fact to white heat:

    Our experience

    When developing the first YotaPhone, we also had to solve all kinds of layout problems. Given the presence of a second display, we were extremely limited in the availability of free space on the back of the camera. The model we selected had good technical parameters and ensured high quality shooting. But the camera had one small drawback - it was quite large. And to enter it into the upper part of the smartphone categorically did not work. All sorts of options were tried, they tried to place other nodes in every way, but nothing came of it. The large module protruded quite strongly outside the case, completely destroying the design of the smartphone.

    Dimensions of the camera module assembly:

    The camera lens consists of 5 optical elements, aperture 2.2, a field of view of 70.6 degrees diagonally. The lens diameter reaches almost 5 mm, the shutter speed range of the electronic shutter is from 1/15 to 1/10 000 seconds. Focusing is done by moving the lens inside the lens.

    We were faced with a choice: either use a compact and lower-quality camera module, or move the camera to another place. We considered the use of a worse quality camera unworthy, as well as violating the cleanliness of the body lines by the influx under the lens. And we took a non-standard step - we placed the camera in a rather unexpected place, in the lower left corner of the smartphone.

    Thanks to this layout solution, the YotaPhone camera does not protrude from the case. Therefore, the smartphone is tactilely pleasant, nothing "clings" to it, it lies firmly and firmly on the table with any manipulation.

    Promising technology

    We are constantly looking for new technologies that could be effectively used in our products. Moreover, we are equally interested in developments aimed both at the qualitative improvement of certain properties, and at optimizing the use of available volume. This is especially important for us, given the presence of a second display with its own hardware harness. And with the “standard” set of components it is hard to do, and in our case one more very large node is added. And all this must be effectively "rammed" into the case of a modern stylish and compact enough smartphone, showing miracles of fiction.

    Therefore, in addition to many other developments, we are interested in the idea of DynaOptics. Last week, she presented a working prototype of an optical circuit that will make cameras for smartphones much more compact without sacrificing their capabilities. The developers set themselves the task of preserving the ability of optical zoom, which is much preferable in terms of photo quality compared to software zoom. And here is what they came up with:

    In traditional lenses, the focal length (zoom) changes due to the movement of the lens (s), and this requires some space. DynaOptics developers suggest using asymmetric lenses that can be positioned closer to each other, and change the focal length by moving perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the lens, rather than parallel. The first engineering samples can be made in the first quarter of next year, and by the end of 2015, developers plan to prepare mass production of components.

    In our opinion, the idea is very interesting and viable. It is unlikely that the production of such asymmetric lenses will present particular difficulties, given their more than modest size. Evaluate, for example, the complexity of creating lenses for full-size cameras:

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