What is a Dual Rear Camera in Mobile Phone and How it Works

Gone are the days when brands used to market the phone camera on the basis of megapixel count, now dual-rear camera is the next big thing. Be it the iPhone 7 Plus, Huawei P9, Honor 8 or the LG G5, almost every mobile phone brand is coming up with Smartphones featuring dual-rear camera setup.

What is this dual-rear camera setup hype all about? Does it mean that the Smartphones can now capture DSLR-like photos? How is the dual-rear camera different from single rear camera? In this article, I am going to introduce you to what the dual-rear camera setup is all about and how does it work. dual rear camera smartphone

What is a dual-rear camera setup and how does it work?

As the name suggests, Smartphones featuring dual camera setup have two different cameras on the rear side. Each of these two rear cameras has its own image sensor to perform distinctive roles, both sensors are usually of the same size or in some Smartphones the second once can be of a smaller size.

The primary camera acts as a normal camera, it is the secondary camera that allows you to perform the magic with your photos. It completely depends on the mobile brands as to how they wish to use the secondary camera, some use it as a zoom lens and some use it to produce bokeh effect.

dual rear camera smartphone

As of now what I have seen, the dual camera setup is being used by brands to use the secondary camera either as a wide angle camera lens or as a monochrome sensor to capture more details and to produce DSLR-like bokeh effect. Let’s have a look at few examples about how some of the recent smartphones use the dual camera setup.

iPhone 7 Plus uses the secondary camera to provide 2x optical zoom to its users, while using the primary camera as a normal wide angle lens. This is different from digital zoom as the lenses move internally in order to zoom in and out, whereas in digital zoom your camera crops the image thus reducing the pixel count. It also allows you to capture photos with bokeh effect using its Portrait Mode, this is also done using the dual-rear camera setup.

LG G5 is using the secondary camera to offer something different and unique, which is the ability to zoom out 0.5x. Though I am not quite sure if it also allows to capture photo with the bokeh effect as I have not tried the camera of G5 yet.

Huawei P9 and Honor 8 use the secondary camera paired with a monochrome sensor to produce DSLR-like bokeh effect which allows the user to blur the background and focus only on the subject. These smartphones also allow you to change the amount of bokeh effect (ranging from f/0.95 to f/16) as well as the focus point even after click the photos. The monochrome sensor in the secondary camera captures light in blacks and whites, thus recording more details and dynamic range (difference between highlights and shadows).

dual rear camera smartphone


Summarize the role of the secondary camera in a Smartphone featuring dual-rear camera, it allows the manufacturers to go beyond the limits and do some innovative stuff. Brands always had limitation with the single rear camera setup as they had to depend on third-party softwares to cater to the photography enthusiasts.

Now using the secondary camera, you can optically zoom in, capture more details and dynamic range, get bokeh effect and even change the focus point and bokeh effect after capturing the photo. This was a much-needed innovation for users who love to travel and capture creative photos.

What next? I think the next step could be to build a camera with a lens which actually allows us to change the aperture opening. What do you think would be the next evolution in the Smartphone photography?

(Cover image courtesy: www.apple.com)

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About Author

Kunal Malhotra
Kunal Malhotra is a socially renowned photographer with 10+ years of practical photography experience. He started his journey as a photography enthusiast in 2011 while pursuing Mass Communication. After working for 5 years as a Digital Marketing professional, he quit his job to become a full-time Photography Mentor. Kunal is currently associated with Canon as a Canon Maestro, and is also working with Amazon to generate photography-centric informative content. He is also a staff writer at Digital Photography School, a leading Photography blog read globally. Kunal specializes in teaching, influencing and motivating photography enthusiasts by the means of his Photography YouTube channel ‘The Photography Blogger’, one of the biggest in the country. His aim is to spread the knowledge about photography across the country, by making videos in Hindi language. Kunal has conducted 50+ photography walks and workshops on various genres of photography. Kunal holds expertise in multiple genres of photography in order to further share his knowledge with 500,000+ people connected with him on digital platforms. Street, Fashion, Wedding and Product are among his favourite genres of photography.


  1. Azfar Alam

    You have knack to make things simple. Thats a big asset. Hats off!!

    1. Kunal Malhotra

      Glad you found this post to be informative. 🙂


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