A phone with 256 MP camera might still be a distant dream; here's why

Snapdragon 865 SoC can support phones capable of handling up to one 200 MP camera

The smartphone world is in a constant churn, coming up with innovative offerings. Every three months or so, there comes a new update. Not more than a year ago, a smartphone with a 40 MP camera sensor was hard to believe. Even the upcoming highly anticipated smartphone Galaxy S20+ is rumoured to come with a primary camera sensor of 108 MP. A few more devices like Xiaomi's Mi CC9 Pro also sport a 108 MP camera sensor.

Now, if reports are to be trusted, a smartphone maker is said to be developing a smartphone equipped with a sensor of 256 MP. A social media user has shared a screenshot on the Chinese social media Weibo's Digital Chat Station which hints at a camera with 256 MP. Soon after the leak, people started predicting that either Xiaomi or Realme could be making such a device.

With the ever-evolving nature of technology, it is quite possible that someday smartphone makers would come up with a smartphone housing a 1000 MP camera, even though there might be some trickery inside (by decreasing the sensor size to the tiniest). But a smartphone camera worth 256 MP might still be a distant dream. Here's why:

The game of SoC

Smartphone camera analysis
Representative Image Blackberry

Besides holding the CPU for computational and related tasks and the GPU for gaming and graphic requirements, a System-on-Chip is responsible for doing many more things in a device. Simply put, the unit serves as a mother of all chips out there.

And every SoC that arrives in the market comes with an upper limit. For instance, Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 865 SoC can support phones capable of handling up to one 200 MP camera besides capturing 8K videos, 960 FPS slow-mo videos at 720P and video recording with Dolby Vision HDR.

Huawei's home-made latest SoC Kirin 990, which is considered a competitor to Snapdragon 865, supports up to 64 MP cameras, even though it offers a DSLR-like block-matching and 3D filtering (BM3D) noise reduction support.

Exynos 990 by Samsung is capable of handling 108 MP single camera sensors. At the same time, another significant SoC, MediaTek Dimensity 1000, can afford to support a single camera sensor up to 80 MP.

All of these SoCs are based on the 7nm process and offer 5G connectivity, meaning the anticipated smartphones of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 are expected to feature one of these four SoCs.

Is it a piece of fake news?

A smartphone with a 256 MP camera might sound a bit impossible as of now, but for being in the race, any smartphone maker could be making a device with such a monster camera. However, for making it work, they also have to come up with an SoC which would make it functional.

So making a smartphone with a 256 MP camera would only be possible for those who have already developed an SoC that supports 256 MP or even higher cameras. Most probably, these companies would either be Samsung or Huawei. As Xiaomi was recently rumoured to be working on its own System-on-Chip, they also count in.

Time would only tell, but one thing is for sure, the smartphone is not going to release any soon.