OnQ Blog

Super-fast, precise image capture with Snapdragon hybrid auto focus

Jun 19, 2015

Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

Smartphone photography is often opportunistic – we never know when we might want to snap a photo, but since we always have our phone, we might take it out at any moment, and when we do it needs to be fast. Fast enough to capture the moment, fast enough to share the moment, right now.

Devices featuring certain Qualcomm Snapdragon processors are designed to support lightning fast camera auto focusing systems. That way your images achieve tack sharp focus, so you’re always ready to capture the moment. First, some background:

In traditional auto focus systems, called contrast focus, the moment you start your camera app, a lot of calculations are done by the processor to achieve the correct focus. First, the camera software triggers the lens to move and scan through its entire range of possible focus points, then it returns to whichever settings that provides the sharpest focus.

Snapdragon processors are engineered to work with more advanced auto focus systems, so you can get even faster autofocus and sharper images, even in challenging lighting conditions.

One of these advanced auto focus systems is called Phase Detection Auto Focus (PDAF). This technology is commonly used in DSLRs. PDAF uses paired masked pixels on the image sensor that are engineered to work just like your eyes; your left and right eye are separated by a distance, just like these paired pixels. That tiny separation makes these two pixels view objects a bit differently, slightly out of phase. The Snapdragon processor reads these pixels and calculates the phase difference to know precisely how much and in which direction the lens should be moved to get a super-fast and precise focus.

While PDAF is particularly effective in bright environments, for darker environments, Laser Auto Focus can save the day. As the name suggests, the smartphone has an infrared laser emitter and receiver built in. When you aim at an object, the smartphone blasts out a series of laser beam pulses. When the beam bounces off the object, the Snapdragon processor can then calculate the time of travel to the object and back, and then determine the distance. Laser Auto Focus is especially effective for shooting in low light since it’s usually too dark for the image sensor to see anything.

Snapdragon hybrid auto focus combines these auto focus technologies with smart algorithms developed by our in-house engineers. The processor can intelligently switch between, or use these auto focus technologies simultaneously, depending on the lighting situation.

In other words, you can enjoy using your smartphone with Snapdragon processors to take photos virtually anytime, anywhere and feel confident knowing your Snapdragon hybrid auto focus is engineered to give you the perfect focus. 

These amazing Auto Focus technologies are already inside some Snapdragon powered devices. The Lenovo VIBE Shot with a Snapdragon 615 processor supports a 16MP camera with Laser Auto Focus and the Oppo R7 with the Snapdragon 615 processor and LeTV 1 Max with the Snapdragon 810 processor has our Phase Detection Auto Focus technologies under the hood.

Qualcomm Snapdragon is a product of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

Opinions expressed in the content posted here are the personal opinions of the original authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Qualcomm Incorporated or its subsidiaries ("Qualcomm"). Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries. The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be an endorsement or representation by Qualcomm or any other party. This site may also provide links or references to non-Qualcomm sites and resources. Qualcomm makes no representations, warranties, or other commitments whatsoever about any non-Qualcomm sites or third-party resources that may be referenced, accessible from, or linked to this site.

Jerry Chang

Senior Manager, Marketing, Qualcomm Technologies

©2022 Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its affiliated companies.

References to "Qualcomm" may mean Qualcomm Incorporated, or subsidiaries or business units within the Qualcomm corporate structure, as applicable.

Qualcomm Incorporated includes Qualcomm's licensing business, QTL, and the vast majority of its patent portfolio. Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, operates, along with its subsidiaries, substantially all of Qualcomm's engineering, research and development functions, and substantially all of its products and services businesses. Qualcomm products referenced on this page are products of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

Materials that are as of a specific date, including but not limited to press releases, presentations, blog posts and webcasts, may have been superseded by subsequent events or disclosures.

Nothing in these materials is an offer to sell any of the components or devices referenced herein.