When you look at a phone, rarely do you think about the countless hours of development and the blood, sweat, and tears that got that device into your hands. With the ZenFone Zoom, we wanted to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the process of designing this incredible device. This is the story told from our team:
Back in the Fall of 2013, PixelMaster’s Low Light mode was introduced and proved to be popular with users. It was then that our CEO, Jerry Shen, got together with the engineering team to envision the future of smartphone photography. Their discussions revolved around CCMs (compact camera modules) that most smartphones used and how traditional zoom cameras used barrel-style mechanisms at the cost of added bulk. Knowing these factors, the team wanted to create true optical zoom in a smartphone with a slim form-factor.
So how did this innovation happen? It really started with our partners. Many months of discussions with numerous optics experts from around the world ensued. We had to consider expertise, equipment, and scalability to build what literally had not been built before. In 2014, the team chose HOYA – the Japanese company known worldwide for its optics quality – because only they could meet all the requirements we were looking for. They were able to make the slimmest lens with a large aperture and at scale. However, we still needed to reduce the size of the module to keep the body sleek and slim.
Combining the HOYA lens, CMOS sensor, image signal processor, stepper motor, and OIS into one module was certainly not an easy task and we definitely didn’t want a huge device and doubt began creeping in…we weren’t sure whether this would be achievable. However, an epiphany happened – what if we turned the unit sideways? By doing this, we could accommodate the periscopic 3x optical-zoom mechanism with a dual-prism layout into a smaller footprint. To meet our needs for the smallest possible module, HOYA shaped the lens using the “D-cut method” – where one side of the lens is flattened for ultimate compactness. With the size limitations, we knew we needed a housing to protect the zoom mechanism. The frame we developed was constructed from aerospace-grade alloys and precision milled for perfection.
It was late 2014, and a pivotal time during this project. Not only was the hardware being completed, so was the software, and that was a huge challenge. It was amazing to finally see the lens and motor interact synchronously and it was ready for rigorous testing and tuning. New challenges were met by the team and numerous iterations were created to ensure that progress was being made. We had to remember that this was not only an optical-zoom camera, it had to also perform as a smartphone. We wanted to have a seamless, flawless experience, and wouldn’t accept anything less.
Nearly three years later, the ZenFone Zoom has arrived. It is the perfect addition to the family and has kept its promise of providing superb image quality, and empowering luxury. When people touch the device, we hope they would appreciate the smooth, silky finish of the anodized metal frame, and love the feel of the fine burnished leather crafted using traditional Italian tailoring. In all, the construction of the ZenFone Zoom takes an amazing 201 steps, and we are proud of the effort in its development. More than anything, we wanted to give users the freedom in their photography. With the power of 3x optical-zoom and image stabilization, we know the ZenFone Zoom can get you the perfect shot.
For an inside look at some of the steps involved in creating the ZenFone Zoom, check out the video below:
For specifications and detailed information on the ZenFone Zoom, check out our other article!