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Software Improves Hardware: Nexus 5 Camera


Smartphone cameras have become one of the most coveted features people look for in a phone, as people are increasingly looking for an all in one device. Google is definitely taking that premise seriously as it looks to improve the camera quality of its flagship device, the Nexus 5, by upgrading the phone’s operating system. As reported by

“David Burke, Google’s Director of Engineering for Android, is walking through all the changes Google has made to the Nexus 5’s camera in the five weeks since the phone hit the market. The fruits of the Android team’s efforts is Android 4.4.1, the update rolling out over the next few days that is designed to fix the buggy, inconsistent camera on what is otherwise one of the best Android phones on the market.

The changes break down in five categories, Burke says, autofocus first among them. Mixing speed and image quality requires a fragile balance, particularly in low light, and Android 4.4 skewed too far toward image quality.  ‘There’s a tendency to say, ‘oh, we have this cool thing that stabilizes, so lets make the shutter time longer, reduce the gain even longer, and get better shots.’  But while the Nexus 5’s optical image stabilization allowed it to get better-than-average shots in low light, in good lighting it just made for frustratingly slow shooting speeds. By speeding up the framerate and increasing how quickly the camera can read its surroundings and fire a picture, Burke and his team improved the autofocus, the exposure, and the white balance. ‘You fix the motion blur,’ he says, ‘and make everything faster.'”

Using software to improve the camera may be confusing to the average user because most people judge the quality of a smartphone camera typically by looking only at megapixels, which tell only part of the image quality story. The software and image processing of what is captured by the camera is equally important and that’s why the Google Nexus 5 camera can be so improved by a software update. As also reported by

“But even now, after just five weeks of work, the Nexus 5’s camera has been massively improved. We’ve only had a day with the software, but the changes are clear. Before, there were shots you simply couldn’t get — I learned to not even try with fast-moving subjects, especially in low light, but now a picture of the New York City skyline out the window of a taxi is crisp and in focus, even if it’s not quite as sharp as on an iPhone 5S. The Nexus 5 just inspires confidence in a way it never did before. It doesn’t take six tries to get a picture in focus, because the camera doesn’t re-focus again as soon as you hit the shutter. It just fires, and far more often than not gets a crisp, clear photo.”

The Nexus 5 is definitely one of the most impressive smartphones to be released in 2013, especially when you consider its price. Now with this camera update, the Nexus 5 will be even more compelling to new customers.



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