Google Camera app code hints at 16MP tele-camera inside the Pixel 4


Thanks to its outstanding computational photography features, the Google Pixel 3 is regarded as having one of the best smartphone cameras. However, there's one area where the Pixel lags behind competing flagships from Apple, Huawei and Samsung: Zoom.

While the Google's Super-Resolution zoom easily beats any other software-based zoom system, it cannot quite keep up with the optical solutions from the brands mentioned above. It looks like the next Google Pixel will close that gap, however, and come with a tele-module in its main camera.

At least this has to be the conclusion when looking at the findings of the folks at XDA-Developers who dove deep into the code of a leaked new version of the Google Camera app.

Within the code of the camera’s Super Res Zoom feature, which is internally named ‘sabre,’ appear references to a ‘telephoto’ camera. In fact, 'sabre' appears to be referenced in all the camera modes ('UNZOOMED_ALL'), and we're hoping this means that super-resolution could potentially be utilized all the time. The uptick in image quality from super-resolution is very impressive, even before its impact on zoom is considered (you can force the Pixel 3 to use super-resolution by using 'Night Sight' mode). There's also a list of all camera sensors the app can use, including the regular front-facing, wide angle front-facing, and rear-facing cameras that are available on the Pixel 3. However, there are also two additional ones: ‘FRONT_IR’ and ‘REAR_TELEPHOTO.’

These findings are in line with leaked renders of the upcoming device and Google's subsequent confirmation that it will come with more than one camera on its rear. The front-facing IR sensor would likely support a Face Authentification feature that has also been discovered in the latest beta version of Android Q.

The team at 9to5Mac did some additional digging through the code and appear to have discovered that the tele-camera will offer a 16MP resolution. We will know more in October when the new Google devices are usually announced.

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