Ever since cameras became a core feature of the mobile experience, manufacturers and designers have been competing to find new ways to deliver better image quality, with the introduction of additional lenses becoming a common way of achieving this.
Multi-lens setups have quickly become a standard feature on flagship smartphones, with handsets like the HTC U12 Plus incorporating dual-lens arrays on both the front and rear of the phone, while newer devices such as Huawei's P21 Pro are upping the ante with triple-lens arrangements.
But could this principle be taken a step further? This is the question posed by the specialist camera company Light, which is readying a number of prototype smartphone designs that pack in a huge number of cameras for the sharpest possible image.
Light is best known for the L16, a standalone camera that incorporated a massive 16 lenses into a pocket-sized device. The company has now confirmed to the Washington Post that it is planning to announce a smartphone featuring its multi-lens array technology at some point this year.
To underline its intent, the manufacturer showed Washington Post reporters examples of concept and working prototype phones with between five and nine lenses on the back, which would allow the handset to capture 64 MP shots, while also delivering better low-light performance.
Having up to nine lenses would also provide users with sophisticated depth effects that far exceed what's possible with modern dual-lens setups. Light believes that its technology – which uses each lens to capture visual information separately, before combining the information into a single high-quality image – will take smartphone photography to the next level.
Photography enthusiasts are therefore likely to be watching out for the announcement of the Light smartphone with great interest, to see whether the manufacturer has been able to deliver on these promises in a way that's practical and affordable.