How Essential Phone might solve Android’s low light photo problem


The Godfather of Android – Andy Rubin – left the Android team many years ago to pursue his own projects. We’re about to see the fruits of his labor with the upcoming launch of the Essential Phone. One big problem his team tried to tackle was the imperfect integration of today’s smartphone cameras (SEE ALSO: Android Phones with Best Camera).

The team had two main goals:

  • Eliminate the camera “bump” on the back
  • Produce best-in-class lowlight photos

Based on the before and after photos they’ve released it seems both goals have been accomplished.

I know what you’re thinking: many of these aren’t LOW LIGHT photos but BLACK & WHITE! Well, that’s exactly the method to Essential Phone’s madness.

The rear camera is actually two cameras, one color and the other black and white. By fusing the two together they can create an image that lacks the noise that low light photos typically produce. For a key example of this, look at the sky in the San Jose statue picture just above. The colored sky is pixelated, the black and white sky is smooth as a baby’s bottom, and the resulting fusion imposes that color balance on the smoothed sky.

It’s pretty amazing.

The Essential Phone team began this camera tuning process in January 2017 and have shown great progress leading into their launch. Here are some photos that illustrate their progress.

If you’re interested in the nitty gritty details, check out Essential Phone’s blog post by their Image Quality Engineer, Yazhu Ling.

Will the Essential Phone wind up on the top of our list of Android Phones with the Best Camera?

Rob Jackson
I'm an Android and Tech lover, but first and foremost I consider myself a creative thinker and entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for ideas of all sizes. I'm a sports lover who cheers for the Orange (College), Ravens (NFL), (Orioles), and Yankees (long story). I live in Baltimore and wear it on my sleeve, with an Under Armour logo. I also love traveling... where do you want to go?

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