In the online awards ceremony held on October 9, the vivo industrial design team won the Red Dot Award for the design of the vivo IFEA (Interest Free Explore Amazing) separate lens .
▲Red Dot Design Concept Award Certificate. Picture from: vivo community
As one of the few Chinese mobile phone brands that have won awards in recent years, vivo has naturally attracted a lot of attention. This interesting detachable lens design may not be a useful solution in the full-screen era.
▲ Vivo IFEA separate lens design
However, this idea of detachable and detachable body and lens, vivo is not the first. The previous modular mobile phone concept and the mobile phone external lens launched by many manufacturers have tried in a similar direction. However, none of them could withstand the test of the market, and gradually fell silent after a period of fire.
So, is vivo's award-winning IFFA separate lens design "revisited"? Can it be accepted and recognized by the mainstream? This may be a question worthy of our discussion.
▲ vivo IFEA body
Use and dismantle, innovative shooting experience
From the concept video of vivo, we can get a glimpse of this wonderful lens design.
The concept phone that appears in the video is a mobile phone with a lifting lens. We will call it the vivo IFEA for the time being. The clever thing is that after the front camera is up, it can be "broken down" and placed anywhere nearby, and the camera can be controlled in real time via a mobile phone.
It is conceivable that in the corners of life that are not easy to "reach" by mobile phones, the vivo IFEA camera can be placed in the past to take photos or videos with novel perspectives. This undoubtedly increases the playability and controllability of mobile photography.
According to the video introduction, the vivo IFEA uses a magnetic dedicated pan/tilt to support charging the front lens. After manual separation, an interesting shooting experience can be achieved in multiple scenes. For example, when you have a dinner party with friends, you don't have to trouble the waiter to come over and take a group photo for you, you can directly place the vivo IFEA lens in a suitable position to take the desired photo.
You can also use it as a sports camera , with a wearable magnetic collar clip, which can be worn on small animals or clothes for shooting. But from the video point of view, the picture quality still has a lot of room for tuning.
If you are a Vlogger, you will love the multi-camera shooting and editing realized by vivo IFEA. Only need to place multiple camera modules, you can achieve multi-camera shooting at the same time, which is convenient for later editing.
Of course, with such a miniature lens module, you may forget to take it away if you carelessly after shooting. Vivo has also considered this possibility. In the video, when the user removes the proactive camera and forgets to embed it in the phone, the phone will sound an alarm after a certain distance is exceeded.
It is understood that the camera module of vivo IFEA is replaceable . For example, you can freely modify the official lens modules such as fisheye, super wide-angle, wide-angle, and telephoto.
In addition, vivo IFEA has a dedicated mobile power bank, which can also be used as a stand while charging. Equipped with a waterproof protective cover, convenient for underwater shooting. It can also achieve full voice control, free hands, and bring a different shooting experience.
Separate mobile phone lens has long existed
In fact, a detachable lens design similar to the vivo IFEA appeared in the early 21st century.
At that time, the camera function was still a very new concept for mobile phones, and mobile phones with built-in cameras were still conceptual products. Some manufacturers are "brain open" and have introduced external independent mobile phone lenses , which consumers can use as mobile phone accessories to extend the functions of their mobile phones.
The most representative one is Sony Ericsson T68i. The user can insert the camera accessory from the bottom of the phone to connect to the phone. Even though it can only take up to 300,000 pixels of photos, this fresh form and gameplay surprised everyone at the time.
▲Sony Ericsson T68i. Picture from: hk01.com
In 2002, Siemens launched the S55 high-end mobile phone. It also uses an external camera as a mobile phone accessory, but it is more advanced than Sony Ericsson, adding a xenon flash to the camera module, and also supports video recording .
▲Siemens S55. Picture from: @phone2phone.hk
Almost at the same time, Motorola introduced the T720i. What's interesting is that the external camera can be rotated 180 degrees , and both front and back shooting can be achieved.
▲Motorola T720i. Picture from: cellcityonline
These designs that now seem to have advanced concepts are actually a compromise. Because of the technology at the time, it was not an easy task to plug a huge camera module into a limited body.
And this idea of separate modules also directly affected later modular mobile phones .
For example, in 2013 Google launched a modular phone project Project Ara, whose purpose is to allow users to personalize their phones assembled, modular phone system-wide, just as assembling computers. However, this project was only "on paper" in the end, and the product has not been released for a long time.
▲Project Ara concept product. Picture from: theverge
Three years later, LG launched the flagship mobile phone G5. The "chin" position of the mobile phone is a pluggable interface, and users can change different modules as needed. However, consumers did not pay, and sales suffered from Waterloo. This also makes its executives determined that they no longer adhere to the modular design style.
▲ LG G5. Picture from: vtechgraphy
Later, Motorola still tried to save the modular mobile phone, launched Moto Z, its biggest selling point is equipped with Moto Mods expansion modules such as Hasselblad lenses and projectors . However, global sales are only 3 million, which is even worse than LG G5. Since then, no major moves have been made in the field of modular mobile phones.
▲Moto Z. Picture from: phoneradar
It can be found that the many previous attempts of the above-mentioned mobile phone manufacturers seem to be similar to the vivo IFEA, and both seek breakthroughs in the field of detachable and modularization .
However, when you look carefully, their ideas are not consistent . In the past, the camera accessories of mobile phones were designed to achieve high performance when they could not break through the space limitations of mobile phones. The vivo IFEA is to separate the mobile phone camera module under the premise of solving portability, so as to achieve a higher degree of photography freedom.
Separate lens for "wedding dress"
From another perspective, whether it is vivo IFEA or the other manufacturers mentioned above, the separate design idea is to serve the performance or playability of their own mobile phones. In the past, in the market, there was also a separate type of camera designed to make "wedding clothes" for other brands of mobile phones.
Around 2010, as the imaging quality of smartphones became better and better, mobile photography gradually became a hobby of some people. However, at that time, all mobile phones on the market were equipped with a single camera, and dual-camera, triple-camera, and even quad-camera phones were not popular or appeared.
▲ LG Optimus 3D, the first dual-camera smartphone released in March 2011. Picture from: theverge
For photography enthusiasts, the single focal length of the mobile phone will limit creation . For example, when shooting landscapes, the standard equivalent of 28mm or 35mm lens on the mobile phone seems to be "almost". They need a wider focal length to express the scenery. scene. For another example, when shooting portraits, the focal length of the phone is not long enough.
In order to solve the user's pain points, some manufacturers are very smart and have introduced external lenses such as magnetic suction type and back clip type for mainstream models on the market. The focal length covers from fisheye to macro, which is enough to meet the shooting needs in most situations.
▲ Mobile phone fisheye, augmented lens. Image from: pinterest
This kind of lens needs to be installed facing the camera of the mobile phone, through the refraction of the lens, to achieve an extended or extended shooting effect. The clever design quickly captured many photographers.
On this track, some manufacturers have also changed their minds a little, and set the "mission" of the external lens of the mobile phone to enhance the picture quality . After all, the size and pixels of the mobile phone's sensor are limited, and it may not be possible to change the focal length through the lens alone. Meet the needs of professional creators.
As a result, manufacturers began to introduce larger mobile phone external cameras, the more typical ones being the QX10 and QX100 launched by Sony in 2013.
▲QX100 (left) and QX10 (right). Picture from: betterphotography
The QX100 uses a 20-megapixel, 1-inch sensor, supports a large aperture of F/1.8, and a 3.6x optical zoom. QX10 uses 18.2 million, 1/2.3-inch sensor, and supports 10x optical zoom.
The quality of the two external lenses is far better than the built-in lens of the mobile phone at the same time. It is worth mentioning that both lenses support Android and iOS devices and are not exclusive to Sony phones.
▲ QX100 used with iPhone. Picture from: yipee
The functions implemented by these two cameras are very similar to the vivo IFEA. After being paired with a mobile phone, they can be controlled via the mobile phone. It can meet the shooting requirements of most scenes in vivo IFEA concept video.
In addition, OPPO also launched an external camera similar to the above two lenses in 2015, called O-Lens, equipped with 16.35 million pixels, 1/2.3 inch sensor, and also supports 10x optical zoom. The control is also similar to the Sony QX series.
▲ OPPO O-Lens. Picture from: Sohu
Unfortunately, OPPO, like Sony, did not respond as expected after the introduction of the external lens for mobile phones , and eventually became a niche toy .
And those small external lenses such as magnetic type and back clip type, with the increase of mobile phone cameras and rich focal length, gradually no one cares. Their emergence, prosperity and fall have distinct characteristics of the times in the development history of smart phones.
Can vivo IFEA succeed?
In the past, the mobile phone's separate camera, no matter what its form, failed to become the mainstream without exception. The reason cannot be simply attributed to poor portability, or high price and poor picture quality.
For the general public, there are no frequently used scenes. This kind of product is tasteless when bought, and it is normal to put dust in the corner . After all, I usually use my mobile phone to take pictures. It is most likely to record life, not professional photography. You need to think about composition, focal length, and so on.
If a product is only novel, but the use scene is not rich, then when the consumer's freshness fades, only a piece of chicken feathers will be left.
▲ The telephoto lens equipped for iPhone. Picture from: travgear
We can see the shadow of the aforementioned lens in terms of the realization of its functions and the satisfaction of the scene in the vivo IFEA we are seeing today. At first glance, this kind of lens separated from the body is very unique, but what Vivo needs to think about is: Does the public really need it?
Among the scenes mentioned in the video, perhaps the self-portrait scene will be more universal. But using it as a sports camera on small animals, or buying more lenses to combine with multi-camera shooting, is definitely not a scene that the public comes into contact with daily.
The trend of technology needs hardware manufacturers to promote, but whether it can stand, it also needs the support of software ecology and usage scenarios. In this way, vivo IFEA may also follow the footsteps of the aforementioned external lens and become an electronic plaything for a few people.
If you want to be recognized by the mainstream, or even become the mainstream, vivo still has a long way to go. One of the most important is to explore the application scenarios of this separate lens . When it can show its skills in real-life navigation, somatosensory games, multi-screen video, AR dressing mirrors and other fields, it may be able to escape the spell of fireworks that are easy to cold.
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