Oppo teases retractable phone camera - is the camera bump going away?

(Image credit: Oppo Twitter Handle)

Chinese smartphone maker Oppo has arrayed a few launches for the next couple of months and generated hype around a foldable handset. The company is now teasing a retractable camera technology with a subtle message that more may be coming at its annual summit. 

Of course, retractable cameras have captured our imagination for some time now with brands ranging from Nokia to OnePlus giving it their perspectives. However, the latest from Oppo suggests a pop-up rear camera that somehow appears next-gen in the video that the brand shared via its Twitter handle. 

Before moving ahead, we would like to clarify for our readers that this retractable camera isn't anything like the sliding selfie camera that appeared on several devices during the past few years, something that the discerning user found irritating.  

The company claims the technology is in-house and isn't annoying as we found some of the retractable cameras on earlier smartphones. 

The note alongside the video suggests that Oppo would share more at their two-day annual tech event - the Oppo Inno Day 2021. The video shows the camera sliding out and slipping back into a slot - the same way that aim-and-shoot cameras worked during another era. 

However, what it doesn't tell us is whether the retractable camera would appear on one of its flagship devices or if it is even ready for commercial use. The company has, in the past, showcased mobile technology, that doesn't fructify for a few years. Take the case of its concept rollable smartphone

Oppo also gives us the camera specs. It has a 1/1.56-inch sensor coupled with a lens having 50mm focal length and f/2.4 aperture - definitely better than earlier avatars of these pop-ups. However, it is again silent on whether it is getting paired with any device and that handset has the heft to offer 2022 photography standards. 

Just so that we get impressed, Oppo also sprays water on the camera to suggest that either the module or the device itself is completely water resistant. In the past, Oppo had showcased its expertise around smartphone cameras operating on buzzwords like the guided shaft motor and prismatic OIS. It remains to be seen, what exactly the company wants to showcase for the Gen-Y user. 

Is the camera bump getting bumped off? 

Which now brings us to the most important question that Oppo could well answer in their upcoming technology summit. Why now? 

Simply put, the technology that forms part of the phone's rear camera module could help remove one of the most uninspiring design elements of a smartphone. That ungainly bump on which the rear camera setup is perched. One that seems to be getting bigger and broader in recent times. 

For the curious amongst us, the camera bump exists to allow smartphones to take better pictures than earlier models. There is only so much that a device can allow for the lens thickness. Now with three cameras and sensors perched on a single island, the bump just becomes mandatory. 

Therefore, the more we seek professional grade pictures and 4K video capabilities on our smartphones, the bigger the bump would get, given that we reviewers often measure a device's thickness and weight as the panacea for design and quality. 

And the retractable module that Oppo teased appears to have at least two cameras but the bump is still very much in place. The video shows us how the camera moves ahead while in use and retracts when not, leaving a bump that is smaller. That Oppo takes pains to establish the durability of the technology also indicates that it may be working on reducing the bump while keeping the lens specs unchanged. 

Of course, none of this has been confirmed by Oppo. But then, hopefully we would have our answers in a week's time. 

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Raj Narayan

A media veteran who turned a gadget lover fairly recently. An early adopter of Apple products, Raj has an insatiable curiosity for facts and figures which he puts to use in research. He engages in active sport and retreats to his farm during his spare time.