Chinese smartphone maker Oppo has just teased a retractable camera unlike anything we’ve ever seen on a smartphone. Don’t confuse the retractable camera with the sliding selfie camera we’ve seen on several devices in recent years. The retractable camera is part of the smartphone’s main rear-facing camera module. And it’s one clever trick to fix one of the most hated smartphone design elements: The unsightly camera bump that somehow keeps getting bigger and bigger.
The camera bump
Before we look at Oppo’s retractable camera, let’s remember why the camera bump exists.
Smartphone buyers often criticize the design of rear cameras, and the truth is that those bumps have grown in recent years. However, the trade-off is warranted when you think about why that bump exists.
Sure, you don’t get a perfectly flat back, and the camera bump isn’t exactly attractive. Then again, you aren’t often looking at the phone’s rear panel. More importantly, the thicker camera bump allows phones to take much better photos than previous models. And the fact remains that we want phones to deliver better photo and video features with each generation.
We want bigger sensors that capture more light and feature more lens elements. And we want better zoom. That’s why the camera bumps have gotten bigger over the years.
Oppo’s retractable camera
Oppo posted the following teaser on its Twitter page, teasing a retractable camera reveal a week ahead of its Inno Day 2021 event. That’s where we expect Oppo to unveil its first commercial foldable handset, alongside other technologies. The retractable camera is one of them.
Most pop-ups are annoying…
But not our self-developed retractable camera! 😉
— OPPO (@oppo) December 7, 2021
Oppo says in the tweet that “most pop-ups are annoying,” seemingly forgetting it used to make pop-up cameras of its own. The retractable camera isn’t one of the annoying ones, the company teases.
The camera module we see in the clip features at least two cameras. And the camera bump is still obvious, despite the presence of the retractable camera. The clip focuses on the latter, showing us how the camera system moves forward when in use. Just as it happens with some traditional cameras. The camera then retracts when you’re done with it. As a result, the bump is smaller than on other devices.
The clip implies the Oppo retractable camera will not impact durability. We see the camera in use while it’s raining, which implies the camera system is water-resistant. Moreover, it also tells us that the camera should not allow water to get into the phone.
We also see the phone falling to the ground, simulating an accidental drop. Hopefully, the retractable camera retracts before the phone reaches the pavement. We don’t get to see what happens. But Oppo will reveal everything next week.
The new Oppo flagship?
It’s unclear what phone will take advantage of the new retractable camera system. Or whether the technology is ready for commercial use. Oppo often showcases mobile technology that needs a few more years to mature.
The Oppo retractable camera teaser does give us some specs for the camera. The 1/1.56-inch sensor has a 50mm focal length and f/2.4 aperture. That’s not enough to tell us what the retractable camera can offer when it comes to 2021 mobile photography standards.