Home > Personal Technology > Android > Yuba Is The Future Of Smartphone Cameras. What Is It?

Lift the Great Firewall of China and behold – the weird, wonderful world of Mandarin neologisms. Coined amidst the swathe of multi-camera smartphones launched in the past years, Chinese online, social and traditional media have humorously used “yuba” refer to the neat clusters of cameras arranged into shapes, but mainly squares and circles.

Yuba, written 浴霸 and pronounced yùbà, can’t be found on dictionaries or translation services. The characters each roughly translate to “bath” and “overlord” respectively – clue number one. Clue number two? Cue Google Image search.

In search of the mysterious Yuba. Image: Ian Ling/VR Zone, Google Image

Our protagonist, the bath overlord, turns out to be a bank of lights you can install in your bath (or shower) that apparently is quite popular in China. It keeps you warm in the winter in the especially vulnerable, frigid seconds between turning off the tap and wrapping yourself up in a warm, dry towel.

Way to ward off a near-death experience.

Already pervasive, Yuba is a trend we should expect to see shoot through the roof this 2020 as other smartphone manufacturers follow hot on the heels of Huawei (circle) and Apple (square), or adopt quad- and even penta-camera arrays.

At CES 2020 this year, Samsung showcased a spate of smartphones, all featuring a Yuba design – albeit in a rectangular layout.

The Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite, with a new Yuba camera array marking the brand’s departure from a horizontal rectangular arrangement. Image: Ian Ling/VR Zone

First is the Galaxy S10 Lite, with its triple cameras in a column down the edge, but the flash up top in the adjacent column. To lend some symmetry, Samsung includes the somewhat meaningless “SuperSteady OIS” to justify the use of a raised rectangle instead of an inverted “L”.

The Galaxy A71 fills out the same rectangular area much better, with a quad-camera system plus a flash unit.

The Samsung Galaxy A71, featuring a raised rectangle too. Image: Ian Ling/VR Zone

Next up is the Galaxy Note 10 Lite, which, like the S10 Lite sports three lenses and a flash, but distributes them instead to each corner of the rectangle.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite. You got it. Raised rectangle. Image: Ian Ling/VR Zone

No prizes for guessing the design of the upcoming Galaxy S11.

And it’s not just Samsung. Huawei, still embattled amidst the US trade ban, seems to have plans for its own Yuba cameras on its upcoming P40 phones.

Yes, a Yuba rectangle – despite retaining a triple camera set-up from last year’s triple-camera P30.

The Huawei P40 Pro, leaked. Image: 91mobiles

The Google Pixel 4a, the widely-anticipated budget follow-up to the divisive Pixel 4 devices that some love and some just love to hate, would feature a yuba, too.

That’s notwithstanding its single-camera-and-flash set-up, albeit with a pair of small holes shown in the render that might be microphones or some kind of sensor array.

Render of the Pixel 4a, leaked. Image: Slashleaks

Ian Ling
Ian is the resident Tech Monkey and Head of Content at VR Zone. His training in Economics and Political Science is at the basis of his love for journalism and storytelling. A photographer by passion, and an audiophile by obsession, Ian is captivated by all forms of tech that makes enthusiasts tick.

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