The smartphone market is getting pretty crowded these days. Each manufacturer is trying to outdo each other with bigger screens, more resolution, higher CPU and GPU speeds, and anything else imaginable. What's next? 4K video of course. Acer is trying to carve out a bit of the smartphone market with a brand new device, the Liquid S2, which just so happens to be the first smartphone capable of shooting 4K video. So what does it all mean? Do we even care? Is 4K necessary for smartphones? Read on for more.
We've spoken quite a bit about 4K video and where it's at in terms of adoption. Theatrically, at least a third of movie screens now have 4K projectors, and plenty of movies are being shot in 4K or higher resolutions. In the home, however, we're just at the dawn of 4K screens and affordability. While Chinese companies like Seiki are giving us n0-frills 50" 4K screens hovering right around $1,000, it's unclear how fast we'll see super-affordable 4K TVs from the major manufacturers.
4K acquisition, on the other hand, has been a reality for major productions for years now, beginning with cameras like the Dalsa and RED ONE. That's on the professional side, though, where things often move much faster. On the consumer/prosumer side, we've been graced with some mediocre entries like the JVC HMQ10, with a few more likely to be introduced over the next year. We are starting to see things heat up on the consumer side, but in a you-knew-it-was-coming-sooner-or-later move, we now have our first 4K smartphone, the Liquid S2 from Acer:
Here's a little bit from their press release with the S2, which will be fully unveiled at the IFA conference this week, with a release in Europe in October (no US date yet):
- BSI Sensors and LED Ring Flash: Sharper pictures in any environment
- Video Recording: 4K Ultra HD, fast full HD 1080p 60FPS, 4 x slow motion
- Full Panorama Pictures: Up to 27-megapixels in a single picture
- Display 6", full HD (1,920 x 1,080), 368 PPI, IPS
- Main camera 13 MP auto-focus, f2.2, 28 mm lens, BSI sensor, LED ring flash, 4K video
- Front camera 2 MP, f2.2, 24 mm lens, 88° wide angle, BSI sensor, 1080p video
- Processor: Quad-core 2.2 GHz
- Storage / memory: 16 GB / 2 GB
- Battery: 3300 mAh, non-replaceable Li-polymer battery
- Dimensions: 166 x 86 x 8.99 mm,
- Network: 4G: 800/1800/2600 3G: 900/2100 2G: 850/900/1800/1900
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11ac/a/b/g/n, Bluetooth® 4.0, GPS+GLONASS, NFC
- Sensors: Light sensor, accelerometer, proximity sensor, digital compass, gyro
- Operating system: Android™ 4.2.2
Acer is clearly trying to cram as much stuff into this 6" behemoth as possible. This is a flagship device for them, which is probably why it includes something as "fancy" as 4K video recording -- which can only be played back on a few screens.
Right now, there isn't much point in recording 4K with a cell phone sensor, except if you want better-looking 1080 and some stabilization options later. Very few people will take advantage of it, but if you're the kind of person that just wants to carry one device with you, shooting 4K for 1080 later would give you tons of options to edit some cell phone home movies, or maybe get some better looking b-roll for your narrative/documentary if that's the only recording device you've got.
You could also go all crazy and try to shoot real movies on it with a 35mm adapter (remember those?). It's likely recording the 4K to H.264, so you're probably not dealing with very high fidelity 4K, but the pixels will be there if you want them.
So what does this all mean? 4K is going to be pushed as a standard, because companies want to sell you products. This isn't to say that there aren't benefits to higher resolution recording, but right now, a 4K video smartphone is pretty far ahead of the curve. This is one of the reasons many believe the 4K transition is going to happen faster than 1080, even if it seems like broadcast is years away.
Affordability will be the main hurdle for a few more years, but once that is no longer an issue, people are going to want the latest and greatest tech. 4K and higher bit-depths make for better images, but how much better those images actually look at standard screen sizes and distances will be up for each individual to decide.
What do you guys think? Will you be in line for the giant Acer 4K phone?
[via The Verge]