After entering the multi-camera era, the camera module has become the “second face” of mobile phones | Hard Philosophy

It is an indisputable fact that the front of the smartphone looks more and more alike.

In the past, we could also identify different brands of mobile phones through different shapes and different panels, but after the full screen popularization, the mobile ID design has gradually become a formula of rounded rectangular large screen + frame + color back shell.

If we want to recognize the new phone in the sea of ​​phones without looking at the brand, in addition to the unique new color scheme on the back cover, the unique camera module design has gradually become our second face for identifying mobile phones.

The camera that started to dominate

In the single-camera era when there is only one camera on the back of a mobile phone, the mobile phone camera is only a small supporting role for the ID design on the back. As long as the small camera does not work, consumers have no opinion.

▲ Picture from: just boast not to buy the first place in the rankings

At that time, apart from imaging behemoths like 808 Pureview and Lumia 1020, the top left or center layout can be said to be the most important difference between the camera designs at that time.

People pay more attention to the existence and disharmony of the camera, and are not so concerned about the design of the module, or that there is no need to design a single camera at the time, no one will believe that this "black hole" will become the protagonist on the back of the mobile phone in the future .

On the evolution of smartphone cameras, HTC One M8 is destined to be an inevitable mobile phone. The M8 is not the first smartphone with dual cameras. Prior to this, 3D camera phones launched by manufacturers including HTC itself had been equipped with two cameras on their phones, but starting with HTC One M8, dual cameras have really begun to be used. People are familiar with.

HTC One M8 uses an UltraPixels camera (oh my god, it’s a chronological word) and a dual-camera system composed of a depth-of-field camera. The depth-of-field camera is placed directly above the main camera. The camera group is like a gourd.

At that time, the radical dual-camera design was not recognized by everyone. In the iterative model M9, the dual-camera design was also cancelled, and the back of the fuselage returned to the classic combination (single camera, flash and brand logo), but it was short-lived. The return of the camera does not mean the complete failure of the multi-camera system. On the contrary, the trend of the camera "cannibalizing" the back is just about to begin.

Time came to 2016, and the emergence of Huawei P9 and P9 Plus made mobile phone cameras the hottest topic in the machine circle that year. This is the first collaboration between a mobile phone brand and a camera brand. The appearance of the "LEICA" logo next to the lens has allowed consumers to reduce their resistance to the dual-camera system and gradually become curious.

In September of the same year, the iPhone 7 Plus that Cook took out at the autumn conference was equipped with a telephoto lens, making the combination of a wide-angle main camera and a telephoto lens a textbook for dual-camera mobile phones, and the mobile phone circle began to lift dual-camera Craze.

In 2018, the Huawei P20 series debuted the industry's first three-camera system, announcing that the "arms race" of mobile phone manufacturers' cameras has officially begun.

After 5 years of transition, smartphones have entered the era of multi-camera from the single-camera era. Compared with the past, more than 3 lens modules have become components that cannot be ignored on mobile phones. How to arrange the multi-camera composition The new problems that need to be considered in the design of mobile phone ID.

A hundred flowers blooming modular design

At the beginning of the multi-camera era, the designs of mobile phone manufacturers were a bit simple and rude:

Take the vertical dual-camera as a template. If you want to add a third camera, add another one on this basis. The camera module becomes longer like a snake, and the four-camera module can continue to grow in this way. .

The snake-like extension is not only to conform to the visual habits of consumers, but also to consider the internal space of the fuselage.

▲ Picture from:

Take the P20 Pro as an example. From the disassembly of iFixit, it can be seen that the space left by the line up in the upper left corner of the camera can be placed in a more conventional motherboard and a large enough battery. The central area can also be accommodated and plugged. The proactive module of "bangs" becomes bigger.

It seems reasonable to accommodate the design for function, but from the aesthetic point of view, the vertical arrangement is really difficult to please people’s eyes. When the homogeneity of the vertical design begins to become serious, mobile phone manufacturers start to want to gradually improve. The huge camera module incorporates the unique design concept of its own brand.

Symmetrical aesthetics of the Mate series

The three-camera combination designed as a "Yuba" on the Mate 20 series should be the first multi-camera design to cause heated debate.

The crash "Yuba" may not be the original intention of Mate 20. In the snake army at the time, the rounded rectangle design was indeed bold, but not radical.

The axially symmetrical structure of the four-square grid composed of three cameras and flashes creates a visual balance and also satisfies the eye’s pursuit of order. The human brain is easily pleasing to the symmetrical structure, which is why many people are ridiculing At the same time as Mate 20, I can't hate it.

This symmetrical aesthetics also continues to the star ring design of the Mate 30 series. Compared with the square "Yuba" arrangement, the outer ring of the Mate 30 series is composed of a CNC-cut anodized aluminum alloy high-gloss edge base and a four-shot inner ring. "Oreo" concentric circles make this symmetry and harmony more thorough.

On the Mate 40 series, the symmetrical aesthetics of concentric circles has been upgraded again. The Mate 40 series disassembled the originally tightly integrated cameras and scattered them in the four corners of the ring.

▲ Picture from:

Disassembling the back cover of the Mate 40, you can see the purpose of the distributed design: due to the different sizes of each camera, especially the volume of the periscope module is much larger, it is difficult to make it together forcibly in appearance. Achieve symmetrical arrangement.

Mate 40 cleverly integrates four "black holes" with a ring, which dilutes the existence of the camera, and transforms it into a fully recognizable decoration on the back cover. This new gameplay makes people look forward to the Mate series in the future. What kind of surprise it brings us.

The silver ring of the Mi Digital Series

From Xiaomi 8, Xiaomi 9, and Xiaomi 10 all the way, Xiaomi chooses to grow like a snake. I don’t know if there is no design if it is the best design, but the designer’s workload should be saved. A lot.

Just when people started to feel nothing new about the endlessly elongated four-camera gluttonous snake on Xiaomi Mi 10, the Xiaomi Mi 10 Extreme Edition turned out to be a surprise.

Compared with the previous generations, the newly designed four-camera module on the Mi 10 Extreme Edition looks like a balance of "practicality" and "design sense" with the addition of "billions" of details on the basis of the original gluttonous snake. Finally, it is no longer blindly inclined to practicality.

Looking back at Xiaomi's camera design, two important elements can be extracted: the "Silver Ring" main camera and the rounded rectangle. The design upgrade of the Mi 10 Extreme Edition module enlarges these two design elements-the main camera of 100 million pixels is surrounded by a rounded rectangular silver ring, and the sub-camera group is housed in another rounded rectangle. Finally, it is surrounded by a large rounded rectangle.

On the latest digital flagship Xiaomi Mi 11, designers have become more proficient in the use of these two elements, and the design has become more concise.

What’s interesting is that this design language is not only seen on the new generation of flagships, but also on the Redmi K40 series of its brothers. Will the silver ring and rounded rectangle design become a new recognition of Xiaomi mobile phones for many years? The formula needs to be verified on more products in the future.

Samsung and its "heirs"

Samsung’s multi-camera design is also very interesting, and it can always be confusing. Take the Galaxy S series as an example, the S10’s anti-riot shield design, the S20’s ladder matrix, and the S21 try to integrate the camera with the frame. Every generation is changing With new and different design languages, explore the best plan for multi-shot arrangement.

Arranging cameras in the center has always been the old tradition of Samsung's S series. When the number of mobile phone cameras began to increase, Samsung naturally played the "snake" growth with the center as a template.

On the S10, Samsung played a horizontal growth centered to both sides. This is a lazy design like the vertical "snake", but due to the horizontal camera colliding with the anti-riot shield, it is jokingly called the "anti-riot shield" by users. The design and unique arrangement also let consumers remember it.

The Meizu 17, which also uses the riot shield design, can be listed as an "explosion-proof duo" alongside the S10, but after that, it is difficult to see a mobile phone with a horizontal camera arrangement.

If the [Explosion Shield] hole is erected, it may look like a central vertical camera of OnePlus. It is a pity that the OnePlus 8 series of vertical cameras will have no successors. On the announced OnePlus 9 module, the ancestral vertical has become the matrix module in the upper left corner.

▲ The double-row design was ugly at the time, but now it's all over the street.

The rectangular round-corner matrix module is about the most popular design choice now. The Nut Pro 3 released in October 2019 appeared, but the Nut Pro 3 did not attract attention at that time, and the hammer phone was forgotten and was about to go out of business. At that time, the previous design became popular again, which is really good fortune.

Samsung also adopted an error-free matrix module design on the S20, and made some adjustments to the matrix module on the super cup S20 Ultra. The S20 Ultra added an exaggerated 100x periscope lens, this giant Place it under the main camera module.

In order to distinguish it from the main camera (to highlight it), Samsung has made a gray stepped layering process for it inside the module to make the module look more layered.

The vivo X series is also a master at creating a sense of hierarchy. The vivo X50 partitions lenses of different thicknesses in the form of steps, forming a "multi-layer cloud step" design, with the purpose of reducing the visual abruptness caused by the protrusion of the lens.

On the vivo X60 series, this cloud-level design has become more mature, and the cooperation with Zeiss has also covered it with a beautiful "small blue label". I believe that the beautiful module is also the reason why many X60 users buy the machine. .

The Samsung S21's mid-frame fusion camera design is the most special layout in history. The middle frame of the S21 was boldly dug out by the designer, and then spliced ​​with the camera module, a bit like the splicing of Kirilenko in the jailbreak rabbit. The splicing design is highly recognizable, perhaps because it is too unique, so far there has not been a "successor" like the previous two generations.

At this point, the current mainstream layouts have basically been listed. Which layout do you think is the most pleasing to the eye?

Invisible craft aesthetics

The beauty and ugliness of design is a very subjective criterion. Some consumers like round ones, while others like square ones; some hope that the layout can be more compact, and some admire the great aesthetics of "big is beautiful". , It can be said that "each flower enters each eye."

Aside from the subjective debate about beauty and ugliness, the difficulty of the processing technology is objective. The design with high-difficulty processing technology can not only please the superficial eyes, but also can feel a kind of "invisible high-level feeling" when touched by hand "Even a design that was not pleasing to the eye may be impressed by the difficulty of the craftsmanship after holding the hand.

At the beginning of the release of the iPhone 11 series, its visually striking large rectangular module design really gave people a lot of "shock". Don’t be happy with Apple’s arrangement of a three-camera system composed of wide-angle, telephoto, and ultra-wide-angle lenses in a triangular shape, cleverly achieving seamless zoom.

But the most impressive thing is its processing of the camera module. Different from the assembly process used in the mobile phone camera module in the past, the iPhone 11 module is "grown" on the back cover-obtained through CNC processing on a whole piece of glass. Apple calls it "three-dimensional glass back". board".

▲ You can zoom in and contrast the seams

Apple directly makes a hole on a whole piece of glass, and polishes the camera boss and the inner lead angle of the boss circle, which solves the problem of the joint gap between the convex camera and the glass back cover. Feel the texture enhancement brought by the smooth transition of "integration".

The beauty of science and technology is simple, and the minimalist design aesthetic of "integration" is also the direction of continuous evolution of mobile phones. The non-removable back cover, the advancement of the full screen, and the disappearance of the lifting camera are all marks in the integration process of the mobile phone, and this time, it is the camera that protrudes outwards.

Huawei Mate 40 RS is also trying to eliminate the split feeling caused by the seam. When the back cover of the nano-microcrystalline ceramic is fired, the camera module slightly bulges outwards, replacing the straight and straight hard stitching with a curve transition. Holding it in the hand, the fingers slide from ceramic to glass, and the coherent transition blurs the splicing boundary between the two materials.

On the newly launched OPPO Find X3, the three-camera module has also caused a lot of heated discussion in the camera circle recently. Netizens who have seen the propaganda images have expressed that the design is too "protruding" and unacceptable, while those who have been familiar with it said that the real machine is low-key and high-level in the hand.

OPPO said that the Find X3's camera is designed as an "impossible surface", which is different from the surface fired by the Mate 40 RS. The processing principle of the Find X3 module is that the glass is formed by hot forging at a high temperature of 700 degrees, and then cut by CNC. Polished to form a smooth transition from the back cover to the curved surface and then to the platform.

This is the aesthetics of engineering and materials, but this kind of aesthetics is a bit "hard-core" and requires a little threshold to appreciate. In the eyes of consumers who do not understand the craftsmanship, this is just like a simple bulge of a camera.

Even if the bulging foreign body sensation is much weaker than expected, it still takes time to accept it in my heart.

As Gaudí once said: "Straight lines belong to human beings, curves belong to God." Both Huawei and OPPO try to use curve transitions to eliminate straight line splicing, but due to limited process precision, consumers cannot yet accept large curvature zones well. A sense of bulge.

It has only been less than 3 years since mobile phones began to enter the era of multi-camera. From the beginning when people resisted the visual interference caused by the "breeding" of cameras, they gradually began to accept the camera module as a part of ID design. It is expected to be much faster.

Using photography to record beautiful moments is an unchanging demand of every mobile phone user, and beautiful appearance design is also an important criterion for users to choose a mobile phone.

The perfect combination of technology and beauty has always been the goal of mobile phone manufacturers. Looking at these future designs will become classic designs, I believe that we have come to a turning point in history when we balance photography and design.

Higher and higher

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