The Samsung Galaxy S22 isn't expected until early next year, but that hasn't stopped the rumor mill from whirring with the report that this upcoming handset will eschew a key piece of camera technology. The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and S10 5G both included a 3D time-of-flight sensor, which uses infrared light to create 3D depth maps of objects.
Time of flight sensors are often used in augmented reality apps and games, as they help to improve the accuracy. They're also useful for assisting the main cameras in focusing and capturing portrait effects in low-light conditions.
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However, the ToF sensor was dropped from the recently released Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. Apparently, according to Sam Mobile, Samsung believes that "3D ToF sensors don't serve a meaningful purpose in flagship smartphones right now. However, the company could bring back the feature when there are enough satisfactory AR apps, games and experiences in the market".
This follows a rumor that a Samsung official said that consumers are satisfied with the image quality of the Samsung Galaxy S21, even though it doesn't have a ToF sensor.
The reality is that sometimes a technology is created before the market is truly ready for it – and it doesn't appear that consumers have an overwhelming need for time-of-flight cameras at the moment. It will be interesting to see whether more apps and games will be developed to fully take advantage of this technology, or whether we'll see ToF cameras slowly filtered out of camera phones due to consumer disinterest.
Interestingly, the lack of a ToF sensor isn't the only rumor about the Samsung Galaxy S22 at the moment. Along with the exciting prospect of a Olympus x Samsung collaboration, the Samsung Galaxy S22 will also apparently have a bigger camera sensor as well (something that's also rumored for the iPhone 13 successor, the iPhone 14). However, we'll have to wait until early 2022 to see any official confirmation for any of these rumors.