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Is the Nexus 5 Really Going to Feature a MEMS, Lytro-Like Camera With Incredibly Fast Autofocus? Eh, We’re Not so Sure.

The Nexus 5 from Google has yet to see an official announcement, but a recent barrage of leaks has started to paint the picture that we could see in an announcement later this month. Thanks to a 10MB log file that the folks at Myce and Android World continue to dig deep into, a new wild rumor has surfaced suggesting that the camera in the Nexus 5 could be brand new technology, with a camera that functions a lot like a Lytro camera only at a reasonable 8MP resolution. The camera module was discovered to have an included sensor under the model numer IMX179, which with a simple Google search returns a .PDF document that we have included below for the mems|cam.

What is the mems|cam? Let’s talk about it. 

Actually, before we dive into the mems|cam, we should point out that Sony makes an 8MP sensor under model number IMX179, which is featured in China’s Meizu MX3 that recently launched in early September. The 8MP shooter in the new MX3 is no slouch by any means, but it’s also not the mems|cam. If you want to see a bunch of samples taken with the MX3 in all sorts of lighting situations, hit up GizmoChina’s extensive camera test post. It’s not a bad camera by any means, but it’s also not some wild new camera tech.

So not that I’m trying to spoil today’s “Nexus 5 has a Lytro-style camera!” party, but the only thing tying the Nexus 5 to the mems|cam is a model number for a sensor which is produced by Sony. From what I can tell after reading through both Myce’s and Android World’s report, this is the only number they are going off of to decide that this could be a mems|cam. IMX179 is not even a model number for one of DigitalOptics mems|cam modules (DOC8324C and DOC8324F are) it’s simply the Sony sensor they are using in the module. That all make sense? Camera sensor and camera module are not the same thing.

But let’s assume for a moment that the camera module in the new Nexus is indeed this magical new mems|cam by DigitalOptics, and not just another Sony 8MP sensor. What would it bring to the table? Well, a whole bunch of awesome.

Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 8.39.14 AM

As you’ll see in the demo video below, a mems|cam captures 6 consecutive images in a matter of seconds from different focus zones and then stores them as a single file. This allows you to later refocus the photo as you see fit, similar to what you can do with a Lytro camera. Granted, the technology used is completely different, but the end result produces a similar experience. To test out how the technology works, we’ve included a Lytro shot at the top of the post. All you have to do is tap around on objects, and the picture will refocus on the fly. Try tapping the Nexus 4 in the background first.

Outside of refocusing after the fact, the mems|cam also features an insanely fast autofocus. I would try to explain how fast, but the video from Engadget at the bottom of this post shows exactly how fast.

YouTube Preview Image

We also still have Vic Gundotra on the record as saying that Google is “committed to making Nexus phones insanely great cameras.” And as some have pointed out, the housing for the camera on the Nexus 5 does look like something new. Maybe Vic and the pictures are hinting at a mems|cam. One can hope.

So, is the Nexus 5 going to feature a mems|cam and give us all something cool to brag to our fellow tech friends about? It could, but I don’t think we have any real evidence at this point to clearly suggest that it will. What we know for sure is that it has a Sony 8MP sensor inside as model number IMX179. That’s sort of it.

Via:  Android World

  • duckmanbill

    It won’t be MEMS. Nexus is for showcasing software on a budget. Not the latest hardware.

  • moi

    Anyone else find it intriguing that this kbarranger of Lytro dot com is taking a bunch of pictures of little android guys all over the place? and his cats…

  • g_what

    How big is a MEMS picture file compared to the ‘same’ picture with a non-MEMS picture?

    • duckmanbill

      no more than 6 times bigger. Probably less thanks to compression.

  • joejoe5709

    All of that was a little over my head or maybe I just skimmed a little too quickly. But I couldn’t care less. As long as the camera is better than the GNex and perhaps on par with something like the GS3, it’ll be fine. Anything beyond that is for bragging rights.

    My most important things:
    -Keep the 1080p screen even if it a bit smaller than the G2
    -Keep the snapdragon 800. We need a good processor to keep this phone relevant.
    -Give us at least 16GB. 16GB will make the think twice and 32GB would seal the deal.

    Secondary:
    -Please let this phone last through a consistent 18 hour day. I mean, at least 10 hrs. 8 hrs on the GNex is getting really old really fast.
    -If the camera was decent, that would be pretty cool. I don’t expect anything near the caliber of the G2, GS4 or the iPhone, but something worthy of a 32″ TV/computer monitor would be great.

    Oh. And while you’re at it, bring it to Verizon. ;-)

    • g_what

      I’m impressed that you get 8 hours of use on your GNex… I’m happy if I get 6 out of mine :)

      • shecalledmejay

        Yeah my Gnex is going on 3 years strong with a replacement battery. I’m praying to the cellphones gods that Google and Verizon work out there differences lol

        • joejoe5709

          3 years? Hmmm… Anyway yeah I hope so too!

        • joejoe5709

          3 years?? Hmmmm… Anyway yeah we can hope and pray!!

          • shecalledmejay

            I meant 2, well nov. will make it 2

      • joejoe5709

        It’s not easy. I keep a close eye on WiFi and LTE and never switch off auto brightness. Custom ROMs help too of course.

  • fallsgable

    all this Mems talk is making my pentile all tingly!

  • Former_VRep

    Uh. Uh.

  • Droon

    As a developer, I am trying to figure out how this would work if it was in fact true.

    So for example, you take a picture with a lytro camera. As you noted, it takes a series of pictures in different focus zones and combines them into one file. What is the MIME type of this file? Do you get a .png, .bmp, .jpeg, etc?

    In Android, when you create an application, you can have that application listen for specific types of images. So for example, I could write an app, and have it listen specifically for any data shared with the MIME type image/png. (There is a little more involved (such as setting the action), but for brevity and simplicity, I will leave it at that)

    If the user opens their photo gallery, and they select a PNG and hit “share”, my app will appear in the list.

    If they were to move to a lytro style camera, I am curious as to how this interaction would work. Part of my confusion is that I don’t understand what the end result would be in terms of MIME type (file extension).

    Maybe if you hit “share” on a lytro image, it just takes the primary focus zone, converts that image into a png, and then does all of the “share” logic? No idea, but this is interesting stuff.

  • XxROCKxX

    I still don’t understand why nobody will just root the LG G2. The camera and battery life are awesome, etc. It’s the perfect hardware to put stock android on. i actually love the G2. I HATED the back button for the first week and a half, but then i got used to it and like it a lot. I tried to use my Note 2 and the side buttons bothered me.

    • duke69111

      It is rooted. What are you talking about?

      • XxROCKxX

        What I’m saying is that people are worried about the Nexus 5. The issue is that nexus devices typically don’t have good hardware(camera) and are mid ranged devices. I just bought the LG G2 and will put stock on it since it DOES have good hardware.

        • chris_johns

          nobody wants your back buttoned 5.2 inch over compensating nonsensical phone

        • duke69111

          I gotcha. I thought you were insinuating that it was not rooted.

        • iPodsMakeGraves

          Well we’re all expecting the G2 to cost considerably more than the Nexus 5.

    • joejoe5709

      Not a bad option if you’re like me on Verizon. But *IF* and yes it’s a big *IF* the Nexus 5 were somehow compatible with Verizon, it would be far better than a rooted G2. Sure the G2′s specs are awesome, but Nexus phones have some serious staying power. Consider the lowly GNex. The specs were perhaps cutting edge (not bleeding edge) and was quickly eclipsed with incoming tech. But somehow it remains one of the most popular phones among enthusiasts despite years of odd quirks and the occasional frustration with Verizon. Why? The dev community. There’s real power in a phone with full dev support. The G2 will undoubtedly have a following – for about 6-9 maybe 12 months – then what? My biggest fear would be being left behind when the version after KitKat rolls around.

      • XxROCKxX

        True. I like the way you put that. I’m just going to sell my G2 for the Nexus 5 IF the Nexus 5 turns out to be what we all hope it is. At least until then I can tinker with this

  • Zach K

    If it has a lytro like camera – that would make this the best mobile camera for the average person taking pic’s with a cellphone. Though i highly doubt that will happen….

  • Fresh360

    I began to lust this camera at “a whole bunch of awesome.”…There is awesome then there is a ‘whole bunch of awesome’ and how can you deny bunches of awesome? You can not!

  • moelsen8

    yeah, i’d probably sell the moto x i just bought if google brought this to the table in the next nexus. that looks pretty serious.

  • WarGasm

    I’d really like to see a no compromise Nexus one year… No skimping on materials, camera and overall quality…. I’d pay extra for that

    • jbdan

      I agree! (wait you mean like 40-50 bucks extra, right?) (:

    • NYCHitman1

      It’s a shame that you will be disappointed because the Nexus devices aren’t meant to be the best of the best.

    • DoctorJB

      Isn’t that what the GPE line of devices is?

      • joejoe5709

        Nexus>GPE>Developer Editions

      • d-rock

        Not really. I’d love to run GE experience on my HTC One, but the camera software is so much better on the Sense ROM, I can’t leave it.

        • DoctorJB

          Do the nexi get the HTC camera software? I was not aware of that.

          • d-rock

            I did not mention nexi (assuming you mean Nexus). Your comment was specifically ‘GPE’, which I assume you mean Google Phone Experience, which is not accurate as it’s simply called ‘Google Experience’.

            So no, Nexi (Nexus?) do not get HTC camera software, but the HTC One GE gets HTC Hardware. HTC Hardware + HTC Software = great camera. HTC Hardware + GE Software = sh*tty camera.

          • DoctorJB

            GPE is for “Google Play edition” as the HTC One and S4 on the play store are labelled. http://www.droid-life.com/2013/08/12/contest-win-a-htc-one-google-play-edition-from-droid-life/

            My quote was in response to someone wanting high end hardware in a device with officially supported vanilla android (Nexus). That is exactly what the GPE devices are. Unfortunately, that also means they don’t have HTC or Samsung’s software tweaks (just like every other Nexus-type device).

          • d-rock

            I loved the GPE (stand corrected DoctorJB) One ROM. But the camera IS that much better with the Sense ROM. It’s very noticeable. The stock software has to be global and support crappy hardware. Where as HTC can shape their software around one camera/phone hardware at a time. AOSP needs to enhance their camera software, enabling better light capture and crisper focusing.

          • DoctorJB

            No worries. I’m on your side. Google DOES need to improve their camera software but, for better or worse, the GPE devices are exactly what the OP was wanting (top shelf hardware with Nexus OS).

    • Jorge L

      Especially if it was on Verizon’s LTE network.
      but we all know what the odds of that are… smh

      • mgamerz

        he said no compramise

        • Ian Smith

          worst typo ever, but must upvote

    • lensgrabber

      agreed. I don’t care if it costs the same as other flagships, as long as there are no corners cut. I want a nexus device that has kick ass everything.

      • michael arazan

        Maybe they should make regular nexus and a nexus+ for both ends of the spectrum. Most oem’s have different variants, I think Google could do the same one normal nexus and a top of the line model

    • T4rd

      I’m gonna be pissed if there’s only 8/16GB versions available. >-(

      • Ray

        I wont be pissed – I’ve lived with a 16Gb Nexus 4 for the past 12 months – with a bit of file shuffling (nothing major) but I will be very disappointed if there isn’t AT LEAST a 32gb option. Surely Google has heard the noise and will at least give us that.

        If there isn’t a 32Gg option, I think I’ll be considering my options a little more carefully before purchasing.

      • Guy Pierce

        One word: Cloud!

        • T4rd

          Three words: not a solution!

          • Guy Pierce

            Two words: Unlimited Data!

          • T4rd

            Four more words: Still not a solution!

          • Guy Pierce

            OK let’s hear it… Why not?

          • T4rd

            1. You’re limited by cell coverage and speed. Yes, Verizon has excellent cell coverage, but you’re still going to see occasional slow/dead spots, thus still being significantly less reliable than local storage.

            2. Price. GL finding 32 or 64 GBs of cloud storage for free or without paying for it after some promotional time period.

          • Guy Pierce

            I can understand #1. #2 other than music which all can be uploaded to play music. I can see movies being and issue but how many movies are you going to want watch on a not so little screen in the time frame of a trip? What else is going to take that much space?

          • T4rd

            I keep several seasons of shows on my Note 2 to watch at my leisure. That’s a luxury I enjoy about it. There’s also phone backups (both nandroid and Titanium) from flashing ROMs my phone, those take up several GBs by themselves.

          • Ozan Fikret Sayman

            you know these devices capable for connect any tv with miracast, wifi direct,dlna things right?
            and its possible to use some p2p legal or not services for downloading.
            they’re selling 1080p device. you’re recording videos at 1080p. so tell me is it easy to deal with this big sized with cloud systems?

            i have g.nexus. if i upgrade this to n5 its because faster, better specs. with a 3g-lte or wifi connection you’ll wait for downloading items from cloud and also uploading wont be so fun.
            ****
            also
            unlimited data plan is like extra at least 25$/monthly in my country and its same for so many regions in world. so basically 12 months unlimited data plan is cost you second NEXUS 5.

    • http://chocochipproduct.blogspot.com/ Chris L

      Hate to be That guy, but if there’s no expandable memory, I’d have to look back at the Galaxy s4.

    • feztheforeigner

      That Nexus was the Nexus One. Absolutely revolutionary in so many ways.

  • Humberto Hernandez

    I dont care, just release the d4IVIn phone! D=

    Google, please!

  • Chris

    nope. try again in a few years when we perfected battery life. something that should be a top priority in phones.

    • Mike

      Battery life isn’t that important to me. All I need is my phone to get through the day.

      Well, really I don’t even need that. I’m always around a charger.

      • a3uge

        Sorry, but when you’re traveling and have to disable half the features on your phone or carry a charger around and awkwardly plug it in at a bar, it’s a huge issue. I’m next to an outlet 95% of the time in my life, but it ends up being a rediculous when I’m on vacation and can’t take a picture because I need to preserve 10% of my battery in case of an emergancy. Maybe it’s because you have a better battery on your phone than the GNex, but even if it’s a 2300ma battery in this thing, I’ll be happy to go out on the weekend and actually be able to use my smartphone as a smartphone.

        • Bionicman

          exactly. its when you least expect it is when you need great battery life the most. this should be a priority for the next Nexus and not just another camera feature. thought im all for lots of features, but if i had to choose over something like this or battery life that would last 1-2 days, give me battery please. oh and throw in the G2 camera while your at it ;)

    • Cowboydroid

      I don’t know how this announcement has anything to do with battery life…

  • sonysensor

    Yeah…. seems like people are jumping to the wrong conclusion by thinking the model number for the Sony sensor means something that it doesn’t. Wasn’t the camera in the LG G2 based on a Sony sensor? The Nexus 5 just seems like another LG phone that will have a Sony sensor in it, not this other fancy gimmick.

    • Droidzilla

      As much as I don’t want to agree with you, I agree with you.

  • panicswhenubered

    Hate to burst your bubble, but I would say 90% chance the Nexus 5 will have the Sony camera. 1% chance it will have the Mems camera, and 9% chance it will be an entirely different camera sensor.

    • Gato Mafioso

      99.999999999…% chance it won’t come to Verizon

      • panicswhenubered

        Surprise!! it has the Mems camera…. on ATT and T-Mobile. Verizon, you get the same 5MP camera from the G-Nex.

        • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

          Hah!

        • EC8CH

          I’LL TAKE IT!

          • staticx57

            Ill take it as well!

        • Frederic St-Pierre

          Extra, extra! Read all about it: People still buy Nexus phones from carriers!!

  • skubadoo

    Mems cam in a sub $400 phone at retail? Not likely.

    • Gato Mafioso

      What if it isn’t a sub $400 phone? :p

      • Jeff

        But it’s a Nexus, it just HAS to be priced the same as a Nexus 4 or peoples’ brains will explode in internet rage over a company pricing a better product higher than the previous product they put out, even if it’s still a fantastic deal!

        • Jarred Sutherland

          No, this is not the case at all. The Nexus 4 was a great price @ 300 or 350. Pushing into $400 territory starts to appeal to less and less people. There is only a small subset of people that really care about constant updates, they just want a cheap phone.

          If Google wants wide adoption, they need to keep the price down.

          • MJ

            Then why are people paying $50 over regular retail prices for DE phones? Google never really aimed at wide adoption of their Nexus phones before. If they want that, then it would need more of the latest hardware tech, especially a good camera. Also make it available on one of the largest networks. ;) This is all IMO of course.

          • Jarred Sutherland

            People paying $50 over are the crowd you see on these sites and on XDA/Rootswiki. They/we have never been a good gauge for the general population. We’re a limited breed.

  • Me

    I’d just prefer a regular, decent camera, not a gimmicky one.

    • Jarred Sutherland

      YES, this. I do not understand why Google/OEMs do not get this. I don’t want more bad pixels, I want high quality images. It seems with Android you either get good hardware and bad software to run it, or the other way around. Why can we not have both!?

      • Cowboydroid

        I’m not sure what people are complaining about. Insanely fast autofocus MAKES high quality images! There is literally nothing to complain about with this leak.

        • Jarred Sutherland

          Fast autofocus makes SHARP images, it does not make high quality images, that is the job of the sensor. Historically the sensors have been junk in Android devices.

    • Droidzilla

      I’ll take a Lytro camera, please and thank you.

      • MacNificent

        Yes. I’ll have one of those for my LG G2 to go please. And thank you.

    • karmavore

      It’s super power efficient. You can be a shutter bug and not worry about killing your phone. And just imagine the video possibilities!

  • jbdan

    Surprise us Google, pull out all the stops, make the N5 “the” phone to get

    • Chris

      Expect its LG so really not all google.

      • http://people.ign.com/mrfrodo24 Mr Frodo24

        Google has a say in a lot of the hardware design and features because it’s a Nexus device. LG is just along for the ride.

        • Jarred Sutherland

          See, I get this, but time and time again Google makes bad choices in hardware. My Nexus 7 2013 is nice, but the camera is terrible (its a tablet so im not that concerned), touch sensor is a bit wonky, and the power brick scares me as it just randomly starts making bad noises. Pretty much just like my first gen Nexus 7.

        • socarwolverine

          Having a say, and having control are two different things. LG still decides what the final design will be.

          • http://people.ign.com/mrfrodo24 Mr Frodo24

            I think it’s a bit more collaborative than that. If anything, Google get’s the final say. It’s a Nexus device, Google is giving LG the opportunity to make a device for them; not LG saying, “Hey, help us design a phone for you.”

          • Steve B

            Negative, Google does. LG probably threw 20+ phone designs Google’s way and they chose/tweaked the one they wanted.

          • joejoe5709

            Except that it looks EXACTLY like a mini Nexus 7 so unless LG gave Google a design that *happened* to look like a future Nexus tablet made by Asus, I’d say Google had a pretty heavy hand in the design category. Where I think Google has less of an influence is the hardware. Google probably said we want the phone to retail for about $XXX.00 and return about XX% of profit. What can we do with those numbers and this design? LG probably said well ok let’s take our upcoming flagship, take some of the specs down a notch, bring the size down to something within that design, optimize it with the new KitKat software after the hardware is finalized and it’s all magic from there.

  • Daeshaun Griffiths

    You got me lookin at my moto x differently. Being able to refocus to the nexus 4 in the background shocked me.

  • Futbolrunner

    Just give us an announcement date already!

    • WarGasm

      If it like previous years, about 2 weeks into October

  • PhoenixPath

    Nope.

    Per the rule regarding headlines in the form of a question…and the rather long jumps made to draw the conclusion.

    I’m sure it will have a decent camera, and ya’ll can still hope. :-)

  • Greyhame

    MEMS camera is just too good to be true.

    • JD_26

      maybe if all of DL wished this together ..lol

  • BiggiePhat

    I don’t see why not. Look at the last picture on that PDF. That thing is huge. Just like the “Bezel” around the camera on the Nexus 5 photos. They may be onto something here.

    • Daeshaun Griffiths

      I take back everything i said about the bezel – if it does have lytro.

    • Kie

      The 2013 Nexus 7 has the same back design including the giant ring around the camera. I’d wager a guess that they are just matching the aesthetics of the Nexus line.

  • EdubE24

    Just please don’t suck!!!

    • El_Big_CHRIS

      It’d be nice to have but I wonder what the price tag for the nexus would be

      • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

        In February, DigitalOptics was suggesting a $25 per module price.

        • Droidzilla

          Is that for bulk? I’m betting Google could knock that price down a few bucks by ordering batches of 100k.

          • Cowboydroid

            It’s always in bulk. Nobody buys a single camera module, so they aren’t going to price them that way.

          • Droidzilla

            There are always different prices for different quantities. Apple generally pays less than other companies for the same part due to the huge volumes they deal in.

        • decidedtochangename

          any idea what a regular camera costs to see the net difference?

          • Butters619

            iPhone 5 cameras cost $18. That’s for both. So Maybe $10-12 for the rear?

            Edit: well the 5S cameras are only $13. So Maybe $8-9 for rear.