Huawei’s New Pura70 Ultra: Exploring the Zoom Lens Concept

Huawei Pura70 Ultra: Exploring the Revolutionary Zoom Lens Concept

Yesterday marked the launch of Huawei’s Pura70 series pioneer program, and I got my hands on this product at the earliest opportunity. Over time, as information about the Huawei Pura70 Ultra teardown became increasingly detailed online, I was able to gain a more comprehensive understanding of this product. It can be said that the Pura70 Ultra embodies Huawei’s persistence and steadfast determination, representing the ultimate realization of their vision, making it the first flagship smartphone after its rebirth that can truly be called comprehensive in terms of performance.

Huawei's Pura70 Ultra

The most significant innovation of the Huawei Pura70 Ultra this time is its retractable camera module, which also supports IP68 dust and water resistance. Initially, when I saw the promotional videos, I thought Huawei had endowed the main camera of the Pura70 Ultra with optical zoom capabilities through the retractable structure. However, upon closer inspection, I realized that the retractable structure was merely to accommodate the thickness of the lens module. In comparison with mainstream imaging flagships, the Huawei Pura70 Ultra’s thickness is only reduced by approximately 1 to 2 millimeters compared to its competitors, which left me somewhat disappointed at my first encounter.

Huawei's Pura70 Ultra

Image Source: 胜利文绉绉

However, upon deeper investigation, I learned that the redundant space created by Huawei’s retractable structure has facilitated sensor-level optical image stabilization for the main camera’s 1-inch sensor. Compared to the commonly used OIS optical stabilization in domestic smartphones, sensor-shift stabilization offers superior performance. OIS primarily relies on the movement between lens elements to counter external vibrations. Limited by the small range of movement of the lens elements, the effectiveness of OIS in reducing hand shake is quite limited. Additionally, due to changes in the positions of lens groups and lens elements, OIS can adversely affect the optical quality of the camera when activated, thereby reducing image quality. In contrast, sensor-shift stabilization directly compensates for external vibrations through the movement of the sensor itself, without affecting the optical properties between lens groups and lens elements. This technology is commonly used in professional digital cameras, and Apple also incorporates a similar stabilization configuration in the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which is why Apple’s phones are more stable in video recording compared to competitors.

Huawei's Pura70 Ultra

Image Source: 微机分

Huawei’s implementation of sensor-shift stabilization in the Pura70 Ultra is similar to that of the iPhone. However, while the iPhone uses a customized small-sized CMOS, Huawei employs a 1-inch large-sized COMS with a variable aperture structure. The differences in implementation difficulty between these two approaches are evident. With this technology onboard, the low-light shooting and video recording capabilities of the Huawei Pura70 Ultra are expected to surpass many Android and Apple devices.

Furthermore, the redundant space left by the retractable structure is also paving the way for future models. The 1-inch sensor was actually adopted by Xiaomi 11 Ultra four years ago, but due to its large size, the sensor dimensions of various flagship phones have remained at 1 inch. Even so, this year, the thickness of lens modules in various smartphone models has become quite exaggerated, and any further increase would seriously affect the ergonomics of the device. Huawei’s retractable structure provides the conditions for smartphones to accommodate larger image sensors, which should be achievable in the coming years, thus potentially surpassing the 1-inch barrier.

Huawei ingeniously addresses the fixation and waterproofing issues of the retractable lens through the use of rubber deformation, while also solving the problem of abnormal noises caused by the installation of large-sized sensors and OIS stabilization modules. This solution simultaneously resolves three major issues, demonstrating the exquisite design of the device.

Huawei's Pura70 Ultra

Image Source: ZEALER

Moreover, the retractable structure successfully offsets the increased thickness of the lens module caused by the variable aperture structure. Beyond the variable aperture structure, one can imagine even bolder implementations such as built-in ND filters and UV filters, which are typically found in the professional photography domain, perhaps made possible by the redundant space provided by the retractable structure. Huawei’s experimentation with new structural designs in the Pura70 Ultra opens up infinite possibilities for future smartphone photography.

Three years ago, when Huawei Mate 50 was released, there were many doubts online: “Why is the lens with the IMX766 sensor protruding so much?” “Is the variable aperture structure really useful? Will it significantly increase the thickness of camera modules?” “Now that the volume of using IMX766 with variable aperture has become so large, can larger sensors be used in the future without affecting the feel of the device?” Three years later, Huawei’s response to these doubts is fierce with the Pura70 Ultra.

Huawei's Pura70 Ultra

Huawei's Pura70 Ultra

Image Source: ZEALER

The retractable structure seems to be the ideal solution for current-generation smartphone imaging, providing space assurance for larger lens sensors and more professional accessories in the future while maintaining thickness. It seamlessly integrates with Huawei’s early deployment of the variable aperture structure, blurring the boundary between smartphones and cameras.

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