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Camera Module Problems May Delay Samsung's Galaxy S5 70

Posted by timothy
from the tiny-little-pieces dept.
concertina226 writes "There's less than a month to go before Samsung launches its new flagship Galaxy S5 smartphone worldwide on 11 April, and the new device has still not gone into mass production due to camera module manufacturing problems. The 16 megapixel camera module consists of six plastic pieces, one more piece than in the existing 13 megapixel camera modules in the Galaxy S4. The problem that Samsung is having is that even though the number of plastic pieces has gone up, the thickness of each piece has remained the same, so in order to fit the new camera module into the Galaxy S5, the lens makers will likely have to develop new technology to make thinner lenses. Not only that, joining six pieces together instead of five for the 13 megapixel camera modules increases the risk of optical faults surfacing at the lens manufacturers' plants dramatically."
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Camera Module Problems May Delay Samsung's Galaxy S5

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  • There are good glass / alternative options out there that will hold up to some abuse a little better. i.e. it won't look frosted over time from minute scratches.
    • by tomhath (637240) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @08:59AM (#46515009)
      Planned obsolescence. They expect you to replace the phone in two years anyway.
      • Most people I know don't usually upgrade their phone because of the camera; they do it in spite of the camera.

        Now, you might see some people in the market for a new phone decide on a specific model because it has a good camera, but these are people already looking to replace their phone for other reasons.

    • My biggest problem is dust getting behind the lens of my cell phone versus scratches, and I don't use a case.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Injection moulding allows for all aspheric lenses (which costs much $$$ in glass). They can realise better performance this way than they could with a similarly priced glass lens. A glass lens would also weigh more and cost much much more (even if you forgo the aspheric elements).

    • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @09:15AM (#46515129)
      From your username, I'd suggest you are a little biased...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CastrTroy (595695)
      Personally, I don't really care about the camera in my phone. I've never seen a camera on a phone that takes anywhere close to to as good pictures as a decent point and shoot digital camera. At least not in all situations. They seem to work well outside in the summer when there is plenty of sunlight, but in low-light situations, the small pinhole phone cameras seem to perform poorly. Also, the led flash tends to work terribly compared to an actual camera flash. I really don't understand why smartphones
      • by CreatureComfort (741652) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @09:46AM (#46515315)

        For the same price you could get a cheap feature phone, a tablet, and a camera.

        Maybe because we don't want to look like the friggin Batman everywhere we go?

      • by dj245 (732906) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @11:27AM (#46516055) Homepage
        I used to think the same, until I got video from my Samsung S4 and compared it to my Canon T2i. I can't tell the difference between video in a lot of cases.

        Now, the T2i isn't primarily a video camera, but it has far better lenses and a far better/bigger sensor than the S4. It should perform substantially and irrefutably better than the S4. It doesn't.

        As far as photos go, I'm either going to get out the big DSLR or I'm not. The DSLR obviously has superior image quality, but the camera is too big to carry around all the time, and is a significant theft risk if left unattended. If I have to wrangle 2 kids and whatever bags of stuff they require, I don't have a lot of patience for carrying around a camera bag too. Point-and-shoot consumer cameras are pretty much the same thing as cameraphones, unless you are talking about large models with big lenses (which have the same size problems as DSLRs). The cameraphone goes in my pocket. Of course it can be stolen but it is unlikely to be stolen if it is in my pocket. With the larger cameras you have to constantly be on guard and conscious of possible theft.

        The best camera is the one you have with you. 1 device to rule them all is perhaps not the ideal solution but it is the most practical.

        For the same price you could get a cheap feature phone, a tablet, and a camera. Use the phone for tethering the tablet, which works better for browsing the web and other such functions, and use the camera for taking pictures. That way you don't have to worry about your $600+ phone when you just want to go hiking or go for a bike ride where you don't really need internet connectivity anyway.

        I have enough complexity in my life already without juggling 3 physical devices, managing all the interfaces (networking, file transfers, charging) between them, and upgrading/replacing them when needed.
      • by sootman (158191)

        > I've never seen a camera on a phone that takes
        > anywhere close to to as good pictures as a decent
        > point and shoot digital camera.

        And I've never seen a DSLR that weighs 4 ounces and fits in my pocket.

        > I really don't understand why smartphones
        > are so popular.

        Really? [google.com]

      • Where can you buy a "cheap feature phone" that isn't a smartphone?

      • I've never seen a camera on a phone that takes anywhere close to to as good pictures as a decent point and shoot digital camera.

        SGS4, lumia 1020, Nokia 808 would like a word.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Is this REALLY necessary? The S3 camera produces very good images but if I want super resolution, I won't be using my phone. I'll get my DSLR out and start shooting.
      Some product manager must be very proud......

      • But Samsung aims to replace DSLRs with HDR imaging and phase-detection autofocus in the S5. So it's no wonder that it's "really necessary" for them! I preordered the S5 because my old phone (Galaxy S) is getting slow with all the new stuff smartphones are supposed to support and execute. My GF will be happy with my old one and I have a new phone that will last a few years.
    • There are good glass / alternative options out there that will hold up to some abuse a little better. i.e. it won't look frosted over time from minute scratches.

      Aside from cost(polycarbonate compares quite favorably to cheap glass, and exotic optical glass isn't cheap), I suspect that they like the failure mode of plastics better. Scratch resistance, even with hard-coat, isn't so hot, so they will 'fog' slightly over time if exposed to abrasion; but that's a relatively slow process and may remain tolerable even once it starts. Glass, especially the surface-toughened stuff that all the smartphone kids are using these days, has lovely scratch resistance; but poke it

  • module (Score:4, Funny)

    by StripedCow (776465) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @08:59AM (#46515013)

    The true reason for the production problems is that it's difficult to fit the tiny NSA module in there.

    • It would just function as a red herring, since they can seemingly already gather more intel on you than a college roommate.
  • Favouring a structural plastic part over the lens, the lens is everything.

  • These are photographs, not telescopic images of the universe. How many megapixels does a camera phone need? Are people going to be sending me the full pictures and then I have to spend time reducing them to a reasonable size?

    • by swb (14022)

      640k ought to be enough for anybody.

      While higher res photos of cats and six grinning girls in a bar someplace don't mean much, I think the higher resolution becomes important for image processing of various stripes, whether its trying to improve photo quality or using the added resolution for machine vision applications such as document scanning or augmented vision.

      I also wonder whether the camera modules are purpose-built for just smartphone applications or whether they are more generic cameras applicable

    • There's two advantages to silly numbers of megapixels on a phone. One is that there's no room for a zoom lens on a phone, so the more pixels your sensor has, the more useful digital zoom becomes.

      The second is that us nerds buying high-megapixel senors funds research and development of high-megapixel sensors, eventually making them cheap enough that something like the Lytro light-field camera becomes possible on a phone.

  • the lens makers will likely have to develop new technology

    They will likely have to develop it eh? When are they going to do that?

    Answer: If they would have to, they already have. If Samsung is going to ship this thing in 3.5 weeks, then I'm guessing it's done if it needed to be.

    This whole thing sounds like some fanboy taking guesses with no basis in reality.

    • When are they going to do that?

      LMFAO. You're exactly correct.

      They may be running into yield issues as they try to ramp up production from thousands of cameras a month to millions. But it's extraordinarily unlikely that any "development" engineering is happening. That ship has sailed.

  • I think it's nice that a consumer device is actually being delayed because technology hasn't caught up with its design yet. It's a good thing (for us) when consumer-grade products are on the leading edge of technology rather than trailing behind industrial grade devices as they commonly do.
  • Let's get this out of the way: I have an iPhone 4, I tend to like Apple's designs, and I've scornfully referred to Samsung's phones as "the phones that Tupperware made" in the past.

    This isn't changing my mind any.

    Let me also say that I think that the Lumia phones, the HTC one and the Xperia Z1 compact all tickle my design bone in some way, so this isn't just some anti-Android rant.

    Samsung really seems to slap together their phones from stuff that's available with no mind towards anything other than just cra

    • Not just the hardware, have you actually tried to use one of those things?

      HTC's android skin blows away touch wiz.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      Apple's cameras aren't bespoke engineering; they're usually Sony ones, and I'd be terribly surprised if Apple's suppliers weren't engaged in similar engineering challenges themselves at the moment.

    • by Ranbot (2648297)
      I agree that Apple's designs are very good, but they still make plenty of mistakes that Apple enthusiasts overlook... The roll-out of their GPS road map software was so buggy they even recommended customers use other services temporarily. Apple had that antenna issue where if you held the iPhone incorrectly it hung up on you. That bug probably would have bankrupted another Android-based company, but it was barely a blip on their earnings because Apple has hordes of people locked into their systems. But wors
    • Fuck design. SGS5 will whip the collective ass of iphone, htc, xperia, lumia in terms of everything that matters (picture quality, screen quality, display quality, audio quality, connectivity, options, battery life, speed, useful features, power). The lack of design is a statement in itself. It says "Fuck you, you fucking wannabe nerds who really just want 'teh shinys'."

  • What good is a tiny 16MP sensor if the lens cannot match that resolution?

    • I'll do you one better. What good is it to have 16 million pixels if they all suck? You ever zoom up on a high res smartphone's pic of an all one color area? It's got more noise and color jitter than a 2 megapixel camera from 2003.
      • Based on the fairly favorable reviews [dpreview.com] of the 41 million pixel Nokias, there are apparently some clever tricks to turn lots of fairly lousy pixels into a smaller number of better ones.

        Given that the state of sensor tech is basically the same at all (reasonable) sensor sizes, you are still going to get better results with a bigger chip than you will with the pitiful little sliver in your average cellphone; but apparently having more pixels is, at least potentially, a useful thing.
    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      16MP images scale down much nicer to 300x400 pixel facebook pictures than 13MP images.

      Even with an amazingly good lens very few people actually need 16MP on a phone (or can even visually distinguish it from a ~4MP cam).

      • The idea is not to scale the whole image down to 300x400, but to crop it down. There isn't space on a phone to include a mechanical zoom lens, so you either need to use "digital zoom", or just take a wide shot and crop it down to the part you want later. A higher than necessary resolution sensor for full image shots is what allows a cropped image to still look sharp.

        • by mwvdlee (775178)

          How many people actually use any significant amount of (ditigal) cropping?

          • by badzilla (50355)
            I do, the right crop can turn a bad large picture into a good small one.
            • by mwvdlee (775178)

              I dare fear that you may be the exception rather than the rule.
              Most people probably just frame their picture based on the screen.

  • So optical engineers have to develop an entirely new plastic lens molding technology because the mechanical engineers who got Cs at mediocre schools can't build a simpler holder.

    Nice.

  • I was rushed into a phone purchase by my parents who needed me to pick a new phone while I was driving through a traffic circle. I was talking to them via handsfree but couldn't concentrate enough and they were in a time crunch and NEEDED and answer. I begrudgingly chose the S4 because I liked the Samsung-made Nexus I had been using.

    To my dismay, it's lock via Knox and made secure for use by the NSA apparently. I can't install CyanogenMod and their touchwiz UI is horrid. I'm never buying another Samsung
    • by GuB-42 (2483988)

      Knox shouldn't prevent you from flashing a custom ROM. If your bootloader is locked it is because of your carrier. International models don't have this problem.
      What Knox does, in regards to customization :
      - prevents you from downgrading your bootloader
      - causes the "knox warranty void" bit to be set to 1 permanently is you flash a custom ROM. This will prevent you from using Knox features, it also may (or may not) cause trouble for warranty repairs

      Also, what don't you like about TouchWiz ? It it is the launc

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