World’s first smartphone with a retractable portrait camera lens rivals DSLR photography

We’ve seen Vivo flagship smartphones with physical gimbal systems for the camera sensor, and now out of the blue, “Tecno Mobile” a lesser-known Shenzhen-based company has stumped the tech world.

Even before Xiaomi and Oppo could throw in their practical innovation at a retractable lens system in a smartphone camera array, Phantom Mobile (sub-brand Tecno) is breaking the ice for good.

Designer: Tecno Mobile

The brand has unveiled its X2 flagship series for 2023 at an event in Dubai with the most variant – X2 Pro 5G – having a retractable portrait lens system. Phantom X2 Pro having a big 6.78-inch 120Hz AMOLED screen is powered by a Dimensity 9000 chipset and gets 12 GB of LPDDR5 RAM. The device has an impressive 5,160mAh battery with 45W fast charging capability and a WiFi 5 module. But that’s where I’m no more concerned with the hardware of the smartphone other than the stellar camera system.

There are two ISOCELL GNV camera sensors on the Phantom X2 Pro – one of them being the Vivo X80 Pro’s 1/1.3-inch sensor (1.2µm pixels) co-developed by Samsung and Vivo. The second one is the ISOCELL JN1 1/2.76-inch sensor with 1.28µm pixels (4-in-1 pixel binning technology), and autofocus. The secondary camera is mainly used as a telephoto lens for clicking portrait shots comparable to that of a DSLR lens. The lens on this sensor extends outwards from the phone body whenever portrait shooting mode is engaged. When the mode is switched or the camera app is closed, the lens retracts back into the thin module housing.

This lens brings 2.5x optical zoom capabilities without compromising the thin aesthetics of the device in any way. The lens has a focal length of 65 mm with a capable shallow depth of field. Video shooting capabilities are no slouch either, as the phone gets 4K shooting capability at 60 frames per second. To add more zing to the capabilities of the Phantom X2 Pro’ camera prowess, Tecno has commissioned John Rankin Waddell, a British photographer, publisher and film director. Rankin has developed artistic filters ideal for content creators and social media butterflies alike.

Hardware aside, the Android-powered phone needs to be tested for how well the camera hardware is complemented by the software environment. Post-processing is going to be another factor that’ll come into the picture in real-life shooting scenarios. There is no word yet on the pricing of the Phantom X2 Pro, but one thing is clear, the camera-centric device should roll out soon, just in time for the festivities – i.e. before the end of this year.