Nexus 5 leak hints at advanced MEMS camera with lightning quick auto focusing?


nexus 5 again 1

It was on Monday we caught another glimpse of the Nexus 5 after the device was once again, pictured in the wild. In one of our clearest looks at the device yet, many of you noticed one very… unique design feature that appeared to stand out more than ever. Amid the conservative soft touch backing, a huge metallic camera areola is prominent. Ever present. Always watching.

We’ll admit, this doesn’t have anything to do with the actual lens or sensor and doesn’t give us any indication what-so-ever as to the Nexus 5’s image capabilities. But when the camera could have easily been hidden underneath the plastic back, we couldn’t help but wonder if Google could be planning something big for the Nexus 5’s camera?

The most obvious area for improvement would be in general picture quality, where previous Nexus devices have all fallen short. When it comes to Google, they typically take the no-nonsense approach when it comes to mobile photography. We’ve seen this in Google Glass’ always-on, auto HDR 5MP camera (which only records a maximum 720p video). Some of you might also remember when the Galaxy Nexus was first unveiled, Google focused on the speed of taking rapid shots in succession, rather than image quality.

Today, some newly leaked info on the Nexus 5’s image capabilities have surfaced and hints that Google and LG might be once again focusing on improving camera experience, not necessarily image quality. The boys at AndroidWorld did a little digging around the Nexus 5’s recently leaked log files and found that the model number for the 8MP Sony camera sensor number (imx179) is referenced in DigitalOptics newly announced MEMS camera.

Back during Mobile World Congress 2013, DigitalOptics got a chance to show off exactly how their new MEMS camera works. Besides being able to focus in on images in half the time of current mobile cameras, MEMS can snap pics so quickly, it is able to combine 7 images with different focus points. Using special software (perhaps in KitKat’s rumored new Gallery app?), allow users can then go back and focus anywhere in the scene just like with the Lytro camera. It’s a long shot, but it’d be refreshing to see some new camera tech in the Nexus 5.

Unfortunately lack of rumored OIS and a sensor size that is typical to current devices like the iPhone 5 (1/3.2”) means overall image quality wont best the 5s or Lumia 1020. But with MEMS possibly at the helm, Google and LG could have a nifty killer feature up their sleeves and one unlike any other mobile device to date. Nothings confirmed at this point, but if rumors hold true, we wont have to wait much longer to find out.


Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. In my experience, the worst part of the Nexus 4 camera is the auto-focus. It’s 50/50 whether any shot will be blurry.

    So, if this is the next camera — Google is headed in the right direction.

    1. Although I still submit that some percentage of in-focus pictures won’t be great on the Nexus 4 (noise seems to be the worst problem), I’ll agree that unreliable focus is the single _biggest_ problem with the Nexus 4 camera. Still, I’m hoping that the Nexus 5 will at least take clean, focused images without unnecessary noise and decent color balance. That is, maybe not the best on the market, but not anywhere near the worst, either.

  2. Chris LOVES areolas!

    1. *Google searches “Areola”*

      Oh my… I see. LoL!!

    2. Lol, the plural is areoli(e) as in the reverse of the plural of die is dice. Not sure if the ‘e’ is needed.

  3. If it’s gonna be an 8mp shooter then I seriously hope they increase the sensor size.

  4. I personally would rather have my image quality improved. It doesn’t matter how fast it can take pictures. If they’re gonna be crappy quality, it’s still a crappy picture taken quickly.

    1. I mean, the Nexus 4 wasn’t THAT BAD. I took some great shots in daylight with HDR.

      I think super quick autofocusing and being able to whip our your phone at a moment’s notice to take quick shots could be useful.

      1. Idk man, my N4 is pretty bad.

  5. I want to believe….

    The “imx179” sensor is made by Sony and can be found in the Meizu MX3. If you look at the sample pics of the Meizu MX3, I think you’ll agree that the sensor could be more “Mehs” than “MEMS”


    1. I reckon the Meizu takes alright pics. Though I am comparing it to my 3 year old HTC Desire HD…

    2. Yeah, wasn’t really expecting much in terms of image quality. Just your typical smartphone stuff.

      1. I realized that I failed to make my point clear. The sensor of a camera is not necessarily indicative of the it being a “MEMS” module. Sensor and module are very different.

        MEMS just means micro electromechanical. Basically, a tiny machine. It has little or nothing to do with the optical sensor.

        1. You are 100% correct. The imx179 is a sensor made by Sony and is not in fact MEMS camera technology. So what have we learned today? The Nexus 5 will most likely have a Sony made camera sensor. Let’s hope that means better quality pictures for Nexus phones!

  6. Given Google’s track record on cameras in the Nexus line – I wouldn’t be holding out hope anytime soon.. this seems like a lot of wishlisting from Phandroid.

    1. Google VP had tweeted to expect good things from the next Nexus camera.

      1. That he did, but it’s still better to lower your expectations

  7. Lol areola

  8. I don’t expect it to be a beast of a camera, but I hope it competes with today’s top phones in quality and features. I understand they cut corners for price purposes, but I would test the waters of having consumers bite the bullet to increase quality all the way around.

  9. I am a Nexus 4 owner and owned a Galaxy Nexus previously. Nexus 4 pictures are really substandard compared to iPhones 4, 4s, 5 and 5s. Why can’t Google focus on the image quality rather than all these gimmicky features such as the photo sphere, which I hardly use. We want to be able to take great pictures, particularly in low light. It’s so nerdy and I bet most consumers don’t really care.

    1. Not to sound condescending but its probably the difference in price points. Nexus for 300, and iPhone for double? Im sure Google is more interested in refining the software behind nexus devices and happy to let OEM add in larger sensors and OIS.

      1. I’m pretty sure Google is more interested in giving people what they want in order to get as many of us onboard their ecosystem as possible. Google isn’t in the business of selling us their products as a main source of revenue…they’re not like Samsung. They’re actually more like Apple, just better at it.

        Not too sure their concern is with losing a few bucks by installing better hardware (a camera) and charging around that $300 price point for the device…they give things away for free (or very cheaply) all the time just to reel in more “Googlers”.

        They could’ve easily gotten $500-600 for the Nexus 4 because it is a quality device…that’s not an accident. That $200-300 loss on the device is irrelevant compared to the tons they make by simply collecting my information, following every one of us around and knowing our next move BEFORE we do.

        Just give me a better camera already, Google…I can easily shut you out of my life.

    2. How about you buy a Lumia 1020 and call it a day? If the camera is so important to you, you should carry a standalone camera with you

      1. What if he’s just saying that the Nexus devices just have below par cameras and they shouldn’t?

      2. I want a better camera on a Nexus too…everything else can stay the same, IMO.
        Telling someone to carry a standalone camera with them is idiotic when other devices have decent cameras.
        I want a Nexus with a good camera, period.

      3. When other phones out have a better camera, there’s no justification for the “Carry a standalone camera” argument. Unless you’re specifically into photography you’re not going to do that. But anyone taking a picture with their phone wishes it took a slightly better camera. The tech is out there, google just chooses not to use it on their nexus. As far as why not buy Lumia 1020… it has Windows, enough said.

  10. I wish they would just start with a good backlit sensor with a fast lens for great low-light shots, then add features on top of that.

  11. Freakin I want this on the next Note 3 update lol

    1. No!! You are NOT allowed to have stock Android goodies. >=.3

      1. sharing is caring!

        1. How about you share that Multi-Window that allows multiple instances of the same app? I’d love to use that.

  12. anything is better than my g-nex camera…

    1. I can’t believe you still have that thing! :O

      1. Still have mine too… cracked screen about a month ago, so eagerly anticipating the 5.

      2. Nexus one, babe. deal. I’m gonna jump straight from one to five.

        1. Ooo!! That must have been a journey. LoL!!

          1. We shall see!

          2. We shall see! I’m so looking forward to it.

      3. my Gnex is barely taggin along with no more updates from PAdroid! Im beggin for a nexus 5

      4. 2 year contract is coming to a close! There’s going to be a bunch of GNex users jumping ship from Verizon soon I image..

      5. I still have my GNEX.
        Nothing has really made me want to change it yet.

      6. Yeah I’m still rockin’ my Gnex as well,…..I’m thinking that the Nexus 5 will def be my upgrade.

  13. Take my money already!

  14. I’ve got $$$ burning a hole in my bank account waiting for this thing! Just sell it to me already Google!

  15. Not sure if I missed this rumor, but since the Nexus 5 is supposedly equipped with the SD800 does that mean it’s LTE-A capable?

  16. Sony makes an 8MP sensor under model number IMX179 as well. So there’s that too.

  17. Rumors rumors and more rumors. Give us some concrete info, Google!

  18. A big metal disk surrounding the lens? I’m thinking magnet, for attaching fisheye and telephoto accessories.

  19. I was one of those guys who didn’t buy a new phone unless it was a Nexus. As of late the Nexus phones have not been nearly what they should be. The phone has only had the new Android OS and that is it, lacks any kind of internal storage, lousy camera, no sd-card support and non replaceable battery. Why buy a new phone just to get the new Android OS when you can buy a phone with great hardware and just flash CyanogenMod and have the ultimate Android device. No more Nexus phones for me unless they step it up. I want a phone with plenty, plenty of int storage, great camera with the latest and greatest specs. That should be a Nexus phone not just the latest OS. Step it up Nexus, that is why your phones have not sold.

    1. The problem with non-nexus devices is that the binary drivers that are sometimes necessary aren’t guaranteed to be available. The other problem is locked boot loaders. I’ve been asking about Cyanogen 10.2 on the Verizon S4 over at the CM forums. Verizon released an update that locked down the boot loader which makes it impossible to root. That happened two months ago and nobody has figured out a way around it. There are Google Play versions of the S4 and HTC one which won’t have the boot loader problem but I don’t know if there is a driver problem with them. The Google Play version of the S4 only has 16G which is the thing that I’m worried about on the coming N5.

  20. I just want a decent camera. I don’t care about the megapixels, I just want the picture to be in focus and the colors to look good. The camera on my old Palm Pre was only 4 megapixels but the pictures were great. The camera on the Galaxy Nexus is awful, the pictures it takes are mostly miserable. If the Nexus 5 has a MEMs camera that will be great, but I’d be happy if it was merely as good as the old Palm Pre.

    The one spec that no one has published yet is the amount of FLASH RAM in the N5. That’s the one thing that will keep me from buying it. The Galaxy Nexus had 32G, which is fine, but the N4 only had 8 or 16G. They did the same thing with the original N7, I have the 16G N7 and the lack of FLASH is a problem. If the N5 has 32G I’ll probably get it but if all it has is 16G then I’ll either get an S4 or wait for the S5.

  21. I’d like the next article to be a release date! until then please stop talking about specs.

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