Why do camera bumps exist: Everything you need to know

by Mayank
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Camera bumps have been in existence since phones began to get slimmer. They go back to the time when Huawei launched the popular Nexus 6P. They have gone to the point as the former US President Mr. Donald Trump said in one of his speeches: “Huge!”

The Nexus 6P from 2015 had one of the first wide camera bumps of the time. Compared to 2021, this bump looks minuscule.

So, a question arises here, “Why can’t manufacturers squeeze the cameras with the phone’s overall back to offer a more professional look?”

The answer to this is Physics. But I’m not going to leave you with that title. Actually, I’m going to separate this into three parts: Necessity, Workaround, and the Wily Marketing.

The Necessity

I’m not going to bore you with all the optical physics to illustrate the need for camera bumps, instead I’m going to put it as simply as possible:

Photography uses light to create an image. The white light that we normally see coming out from the sun is made up of many colors of varying wavelengths. Now, we can’t see them unless we allow the light to move through a medium such as glass or water.

For example, when you allow light to pass through a prism, it travels from a less dense medium (air) to a much denser medium (glass) and back into the air. This allows the light to bend effectively. A phenomenon called “Refraction.”

A prism refracts a white beam of light into its several colors.

But why I’m suddenly teaching you middle school Physics?

Since it plays a key role in how camera lenses operate. A modern camera consists of many elements (lens, image sensor, etc.) Now the lenses are of two types- Simple and Compound lenses.

While simple lenses are just a piece of glass used in magnifying glasses and viewfinders, compound lenses are different.

Compound lenses are used in your smartphone cameras where several lenses (series of concave and convex lenses) are placed on top of each other to bend the incoming light in the best possible way to the sensor and fix focusing issues. This results in a clearer picture with a high contrast to any section of the image.

With phones getting thinner, these lenses still have to stay on top of each other for better image quality, hence the camera bump.

The Workaround

There’s just one workaround to these bumps in your smartphone, and that might sound cliché to you: making the phones a little thicker. Wait! Before all you iPhone owners lash me fiercely, hear me out.

Making smartphones a little thicker not only helps to flatten the camera bumps, but also allows for a larger battery inside. But it’s just me. Debates are still going on in the tech world about making smartphones a little thicker to keep the camera bump proportionate to the phone’s body.

The LG G8X ThinQ featured a no camera bump design while still keeping its thickness to just 8.4mm

The Wily Marketing

Now here comes the interesting part: marketing. In recent years, you may have seen smartphone launch events that usually last around 2.5 hours, mainly focus on camera quality. Some smartphones today have a periscope lens with a digital zoom of up to 100x.

But because not everyone will be watching a smartphone launch event, how are you going to show off these camera features that one might never use on a smartphone?

Answer: Make your camera bump stand out.

Yeah, I’m telling you frankly that a camera bump similar to higher megapixels means better picture quality has become a marketing tactic. Someone who has no knowledge of cameras and picture quality will fall for this, as the deceptive statement suggests, “The bigger the bump, the flashier it looks, the better the cameras will be.”

For illustration, you can look at the so called “Space Ring” camera of the Huawei Mate 40 Pro Plus and also the edged camera cutout of the Galaxy S21 series. This does not mean that the cameras on both of these devices are bad, in fact both of these devices have great cameras. It’s just the way they’re portrayed that can mislead a non-tech person.

The Space Ring camera design on the Huawei Mate 40 Pro+

Conclusion

Camera bumps are now part of almost every smartphone in the world today. Although many don’t it mind being there, some vouch for a slimmer profile on their phone. So, in the end, everything comes to a personal choice.

Do you guys think camera bumps should be allowed to exist, or you’d be happy if they were gone? Comment below.

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