Do Smartphones Need So Many Cameras? Benefits and Challenges

Do Smartphones Need So Many Cameras

The iPhone comes with 3 cameras; the Samsung S22 Ultra has four. There are many bizarre smartphones with an unusual number of cameras. Seeing all these, you might ask yourself, “Do we really need so many cameras on our phones?” That’s where we come in with an answer. Follow us on todays article to find out if you really need so many cameras. 

Necessity of Multiple Camera

The short answer to the question is that all these cameras are in place, in a particular combination, to help take better photos. But how? Well, before we answer that, we need to understand why your phone needs two or three cameras in the first place.


When you buy a camera, chances are, the body, and the lens come separately. The body holds all the brains – the sensor, the image processor, and other good stuff. That’s why DSLR or mirrorless cameras have the space to utilize a bigger sensor, which helps to get those clear, crispy, and vibrant shots.


It’s a rectangular you shove in your pocket. The camera sensors on your phone are no larger than your fingertips, so one sensor can only do so much.


Next comes the lens. A lens with a variable focal length has multiple glasses inside it that physically moves in and out when using the zoom functionality. On the other hand, there are lenses with fixed focal lengths. Since these have no moving part inside, you can’t zoom in or out. Obviously, smartphone manufacturers are using fixed focal length lenses on their devices; with such a slender device, fitting moving glass parts inside isn’t feasible. However, there have been attempts to make a phone that’s more cameras than a phone; those usually ended in a train wreck.

How They Work?

So, now we know why there are so many cameras. But how do they work? Each lens on your phone has the power to work independently. When you press the 2.5 o 3 times zoom on your phone, it instantly switches to the telephoto module, and vice versa. These lenses can also work together, thanks to software. Let’s say you’ve got 3 times optical zoom; when you start zooming from 1 to 3 times zoom, the wide-angle and telephoto lenses work together to make that happen. So, when you zoom in, the photo doesn’t look like a mess.Again, suppose your phone has a dedicated macro camera.Then, you will notice that the phone changes from a wide-angle to a macro camera once you’ve come too close to an object.

Does that mean that when you’re using the wide-angle lens, the telephoto or the macro lens is dormant? Absolutely not. Whether two, three, or five, your camera lenses work simultaneously to improve the picture quality and optical zoom functionality.


Also, besides the usual lens setup, there are other sensors on a camera, like the monochrome and depth sensors. So what are these?

Monochrome Sensor

You might be wondering, “why a monochrome sensor? Just turning down the saturation gets the job done fine.” As the name suggests, the monochrome sensor has no color filter array, and the images aren’t filtered. Thanks to the lack of processing, the images are sharper than what the color sensor captures, filled with contrast, and puts out great low-light performance. Lastly, the image from the monochrome sensor and the color sensor are mixed together, forming the final photo. That image has all the sharpness and contrast you can ask for.

Depth Sensor

The cameras on your phone can’t understand what’s in the foreground and the background; everything is 2D. So, how do we capture such amazing shots with buttery smooth bokeh? Thanks to the depth sensor or the “Time-of-Flight” camera, that’s possible. This sensor shoots out infrared rays, calculates the time for the light to reach the subject, and bounces back. Then, a map is created to understand what’s in the front and what’s in the back, separate the two, and we get the blurry background or bokeh. But, not all manufacturer opts for a depth sensor. Instead, some use the existing cameras, take the information from those, and through a complex algorithm, create the depth map.

Do You Need All These?

Now that we know why there are so many cameras and how they function together. So, the question is, do we really need all that? The answer is subjective. Back when we had one camera setup, we took great photos too. Back then, manufacturers emphasized getting more pixels, but there’s only so much you can fit in such a small frame. So then, they moved to multiple camera setups. Now that we are used to seeing such great photos from our phones, any picture from a single camera setup will look archaic. We want to have a device that lets us do everything, and taking great pictures is one of them. So, if three or five camera setups allow us to do that, it isn’t bad, right?

Final Thoughts

With tech advancing at a baffling pace, we might see more or maybe fewer cameras on our phones; only time will tell. Until then, let us know what you think, do we really need any more cameras? We would love to know your opinion.

Joe Pfeffer

Joe Pfeffer

What started off as just a dream for Joe Pfeffer, turned into his passion and livelihood. He started his career as a wildlife photographer and then transitioned into becoming a cinematographer. With a decade of raw on-the-field experience, Joe Pfeffer has all the technical knowledge about the ins and outs of cameras. Now, he uses his vast experience to educate others about photography.