Hello! The camera, or rather, the quality of shooting in a mobile phone, has become one of the flagship features. Many manufacturers compete with each other as to which device can shoot better. Modules are improving, acquiring new functions that were previously available only in cameras, thereby gradually replacing the latter.
Today, flagship smartphones use cameras with optical image stabilization, high photosensitivity, consisting of a large number of lenses and representing a very complex device.
More recently, cameras were much more modest in terms of characteristics and dimensions. For example, here is a comparison of the main camera of different generations of Samsung smartphones. This is the Galaxy S3 camera versus the Galaxy S7 EDGE camera.
The first thing that catches your eye is size. The camera from the S7 Edge is noticeably larger. Moreover, if we compare them in thickness, it turns out that, despite the increase in length and width, the thickness has not changed, remaining very small.
The thickness of the module is one of the most important parameters in terms of dimensions. Thanks to this, most manufacturers manage to keep the thickness of the body small and ensure that the camera's peephole does not stick out from the body.
If you shake your phone equipped with an autofocus camera, you can hear the characteristic rattling sound. Many took it for a malfunction and wrote about it on the forums or went to the store to return a phone that had such a malfunction. In fact, this is a rattling lens block loosely attached to the inside of the camera body. This is how stabilization and autofocus work.
It was always interesting for me to figure out how such a camera module works inside, how these same stabilization and autofocus work from the point of view of mechanics. To satisfy my curiosity, I bought a faulty camera module from the Galaxy S7 Edge and started dissecting it.
First, let's examine it from the outside again. The case is assembled from a large number of parts and is connected to the board with a wide multi-pin connector.
There is a marking on the cable that can be used to distinguish a fake from the original module. In the same models of its smartphones intended for sale in different countries, Samsung can install both a module of its own production and modules manufactured by Sony. In this case, the module is made by Sony. In addition to the inscription on the cable, on the outer metal casing there is a serial number of the camera, engraved in small print. Serious approach.
Well, let's start opening it.
First, remove the plastic apron that protects the module. Then we open a small box on the ribbon, inside of which are the electronic components that are part of the camera's power control. The diminutiveness of such devices is always surprising.
Please note that contacts go under the casing on all sides.
Remove the metal casing.
Before us appears the inner plastic case, which is belted on all four sides by a loop with contacts that we saw when we examined the casing from the outside.
There is a metal block inside. I wonder how difficult it is to extract. Let's try to get it.
Surprisingly, the inner lens unit is not secured in any way and can be removed without any resistance at all. Suddenly.
Let's put the extracted block aside and look inside. And inside are tiny coils that are powered. Most of all it resembles electromagnets.
What else is there? There are also balls in the corners of the case, which, apparently, are the guides along which the lens unit rolls.
The size of these balls is impressive. Here's one compared to the tip of a regular toothpick. And, apparently, this ball is ceramic.
We look further. At the bottom of the case, the camera matrix filter is visible. If you take a closer look, you can see that the matrix is covered with cracks. I wonder what had to be done with the phone to damage the matrix like that? It was either dropped very badly, or I don't even know.
We will return to the matrix later. Let's now take a closer look at the lens unit.
Metal plates are visible on the side faces, which in fact turned out to be miniature magnets. Now it is finally clear how the camera is controlled. When energized, the lens unit hangs inside the electromagnetic field and moves inside the case, resting on ceramic balls, which, apparently, play the role of not so much a slide as a limiter.
The design looks monolithic. But there is nothing assembled by one person that another person cannot make out.
There are plastic seals on the top.
We cut them off, after which we pry on the side latches and remove another casing. We take out the lens block, which has become even smaller. Not a module, but some kind of nesting doll. Inside another layer of the case, we again find the balls already familiar to us. Moreover, the balls hold not only the lens unit, but also another shell on which this very unit rests. Yeah … Here you will remember not only the matryoshka, but also the Kashcheev's chest.
Will there really be another building in the building? But no, further only the lens unit, pressed inside a plastic tube.
The ad promised us six lenses inside. Explosion diagrams also showed these six lenses. We have the opportunity to check the veracity of advertising images. Since the tube with lenses is not separable, we will barbarously gut it.
There really were a lot of lenses inside. And to be precise, the very six promised in the advertisement. One of the lenses is assembled from two and cannot be separated. All lenses have the finest black spacers between them. The diminutiveness and complexity of the design are impressive.
The only upset was that the lenses turned out to be plastic. The plastic is very delicate and scratches instantly. I thought that at least the outer lens at the very top would be glass. No, plastic too. Sorry.
Now let's get back to the matrix. Actually, the size of the matrix determines the size of the entire module. We remove the filter and look at the matrix.
Again miniature, tiny elements. Pay attention to the gold contacts that go from the matrix to the board.
Photo in comparison with human hair.
Despite the fact that you mentally understand that at the moment technologies are at such a level that this should not be surprising, it impresses me. It is one thing to understand, and quite another to see with your own eyes. After all, it was all necessary not only to come up with, but also to collect.
This is how the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge camera module looks from the inside. One more secret became less, and one more knowledge more. It is unlikely that this knowledge will be useful to me in life, for example, when repairing phones, since it is hardly possible to repair a module at home, and it is not even necessary. But now the principle of operation of the mechanism of optical stabilization and autofocus has become better understood. Also, it's just interesting. It was always interesting for me to learn how the world around me works. And not only how it works, but what it consists of. With age, this desire does not diminish, and the impressions of what he saw does not dim. Learning about how the world around us works, we learn to understand it better, but it is still capable of surprising. There are still a lot of discoveries ahead.
P.S. I received a camera module for the recently purchased Galaxy S7 Active, which means that one of these days I have an adventure to replace this module. The risk is great, but the result is worth the risk.