When Samsung launched the Galaxy S10 series earlier this year, it made it clear that the more money you spend, the better the camera experience you’re going to get. The biggest S10 phone, the 5G version, has four lenses on the back and two on the front, and it’s the only one of the four Galaxy S10 versions to feature a Time-of-Flight (ToF) lens. But both new Note 10 models might have ToF cameras when they launch in 2 months, and the feature could be used on other Samsung phones as well, not just flagships.
By measuring the time light needs to travel to the subject, ToF cameras collect much more depth data alongside images. In turn, phones with ToF cameras can offer 3D facial recognition like the iPhone X and Apple’s 2018 iPhone models, and also take portrait photos with bokeh effects. Furthermore, depth data can help with AR and VR apps on mobile devices.
According to ETNews, component maker MCNEX invested 13 billion won ($11 million) in a new facility in Vietnam that will be completed by the end of July. The factory will mass-produce ToF modules as soon as August, with Samsung being one of its customers. The firm already manufactures camera modules and fingerprint sensors for Samsung.
Samsung is also sourcing ToF cameras from other suppliers, including Partron, which manufactures ToF sensors for the Galaxy S10 5G.
These moves indicate that Samsung has big plans for ToF going forward, with the Note 10 likely just the first upcoming new device to benefit from ToF camera adoption. And if both the front and rear cameras of the Note 10 get ToF, as the report notes, then Samsung will certainly need more parts from its suppliers.
Previous Galaxy Note 10 leaks said the Note 10 and Note 10 Pro will have triple- and quad-lens cameras, respectively, but both of them will pack single-lens cameras on the front. It’s unclear whether ToF tech can be incorporated into the main selfie camera, or whether a smaller sensor will join the selfie cam on the front.
ETNews says that Apple is also working on ToF technology for its iPhone line without revealing other details about any of the upcoming iPhones. Meanwhile, the Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy Note 10 Pro will be unveiled in early August and hit stores a few weeks later.