It is no secret that Samsung experimented with a dual-camera setup for its Galaxy S8 smartphone generation. The company told our own Dan Seifert as much during its preview event for the S8 in South Korea last month. Company execs told Dan that they didn’t pursue the dual-camera route because "Samsung has not found real value for it yet." But to test the hypothesis, Samsung naturally put together a few prototypes, and one of them appears to have emerged online courtesy of Weibo leaker KK.
The image doesn’t tell us a huge amount, other than to suggest that Samsung could, in fact, have arranged the (single-lens) camera and the fingerprint sensor on the S8 in a vertical, centered line. The offset fingerprint reader on the actual S8 and S8 Plus is a horribly awkward implementation that, in my judgment, should never have made it to a finished product. Also interesting here is the total absence of a fingerprint scanner on the back — was this one of the early prototypes that Samsung anticipated would have the fingerprint reader embedded into the screen?
Samsung isn’t closing the door on adopting a dual-camera solution of its own, but the company’s position for now is that it’s waiting until it sees real value to the idea. As things stand, Samsung believes it can squeeze out better low-light performance from its single-lens system than competitors can achieve with dual-lens arrays, so there’s no hurry to jump on the bandwagon. Samsung has also said that the total system cost would rise with a dual-camera system, as it’d necessitate more sensors, lenses, RAM, and CPU power. All of which neatly dovetails into the idea that Samsung’s "more of everything" phone, the Galaxy Note series, could be the first beneficiary should Samsung decide to go ahead with a second camera on the back.