To stay ahead in the photography game, Google’s Pixel phone team may be adding a new feature to its 2023 Pixel smartphone product.
According to leaker Kuba Wojciechowski on Twitter, the Google Pixel 8 will have a camera sensor capable of staggered HDR, an upgrade to the technology phones currently use to shoot in challenging lighting. The code for the Google Camera Go app, a lighter version of Google’s camera app, mentions staggered HDR for the 2023 Pixel devices, reportedly codenamed Husky and Shiba, according to Wojciechowski.
HDR, an abbreviation for high dynamic range, is a computational photography technology that allows cameras to capture images with both bright and dark areas. This is especially difficult for phones’ small image sensors. Google pioneered HDR+, a technique that stacks several underexposed frames into one shot, a technique that did a better job of keeping skies from washing out into a blank white patch, then later added a single brighter frame to better capture dim areas. The tricky part about HDR is that the scene can change from frame to frame, resulting in a ghosting and other artifacts.
Staggered HDR is intended to address the ghosting issue by capturing multiple frames closer together at the same time.HDR frequently combines bright, medium, and dark exposures taken in succession, but with staggered HDR, the sensor does not wait for one frame to finish before beginning data collection for the next. It could, for example, be retrieving bright frame data from the pixels across the bottom of the sensor while also retrieving dark frame data from the top.
Google did not immediately respond to a comment request.
The Pixel line hasn’t been a commercial success, but it has historically been a leader in smartphone photography. Although Android remains the most popular mobile operating system worldwide, it is losing ground in the United States, with Apple’s iOS taking the lead.
Google is responding with a more aggressive Pixel phone push and a broader suite of accompanying products such as the Pixel Buds Pro earbuds, the Pixel Watch, and the Pixel Tablet, which will be available in 2023. This ecosystem strategy is similar to that of smartphone leaders Samsung and Apple.
Tangor, the upcoming Pixel Tablet, may also have a “pro” version, as Wojciechowski discovered while examining the code. This could imply that a higher-end Pixel Tablet is also in the works.