Iphone 12 Pro ReviewSource: Daniel Bader / Android Central

What you need to know

  • A new report says that Android smartphone vendors may adopt direct time of flight camera technology next year.
  • Apple's adoption of LiDAR, which is based on the tech, is expected to prompt other vendors to follow suit, as the benefits vastly outweigh the less-expensive indirect time of flight used in most Android phones.

A new report says that Android smartphone vendors may look to adopt direct Time-of-Flight (dToF) technology for use in smartphone cameras next year, spurred by Apple's inclusion of LiDAR in the iPhone 12 Pro.

From DigiTimes:

Apple's adopting LiDAR based on dToF (direct time of flight) for iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPad (2020) is expected to prompt Android smartphone vendors to follow suit, likely to replace indirect ToF (iToF) to become the mainstream 3D depth-sensing technology in 2021.

While major Android phone vendors have integrated less expensive iToF technology with rear cameras, applications have been limited without significantly enhancing user experience. Since dToF can offer significant AR effects, phone vendors are expected to adopt it in place of iToF for their flagship smartphones beginning 2021, Digitimes Research believes.

As the report notes, there are several benefits to dToF over iToF. dToF offers lower power consumption, better resistance to ambient light interference, and the ability to cope with more complicated scenes. Apple's LiDAR scanner also has double the range of the Sensor used in the Galaxy S20+ and Ultra. The tradeoff is cost, iToF being cheaper.

Apple announced the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro in October, featuring its new LiDAR scanner first introduced in the iPad Pro earlier this year. The new LiDAR scanner enables the iPhone camera to measure light distance and pixel depth to provide improved AR experiences and better autofocus.