How Does A Depth Sensor Camera Work? [Simplest Guide]

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Over the past few years, we’ve seen nearly all the smartphone brands playing and experimenting with different features and camera qualities. A few years ago, we used to have a single-camera phone.

Now, there are smartphones with upto six cameras! Whether it is about adding more cameras or increasing its megapixels, some brands or others will try something new every time. 

Recently, news about the Time of Flight (ToF) or depth sensor cameras became viral.

As a photographer, you must want to know about these cameras. Right? So, what are the depth sensor cameras? Are they really useful? How does it even work?

The fact that there is so much gossip but only a little information available on the internet about it is disappointing.

You’re in the right place if you want to know about depth sensor cameras and how they work. 

So, let’s begin! 

What Is A Depth Sensor Camera?

Do you remember how the submarines used some kind of sonar equipment in the movies? Whenever some other enemy ship or boat was on their radar, it used to make a ping sound and waited for the signal to reflect back.

The sailors then used to estimate the distance between both the ships by using the time taken for the signal to reflect back.

A depth sensor camera waits for the light to bounce back off an object and uses the time to estimate the distance, thus creating a three-dimensional map of the present world.

This is why the ToF cameras are also known as depth sensor cameras

The depth-sensing camera makes use of infrared light to determine the distance from the object- a bit similar to how a bat senses its surroundings. The camera emits a light signal which hits the object and then bounces back.

The time it takes to reflect back is used to calculate and estimate the distance and depth mapping. This camera with depth provides a great advantage to its users as it can help you measure the distances accurately with a single laser pulse. 

ToF cameras are already present in some of the top-notch smartphones.

depth sensor camera app

Here are some of the mobile phones that are equipped with ToF cameras:

  • Samsung Galaxy S10 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10+
  • Samsung Galaxy S20+
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G
  • LG G8 Thin Q
  • OPPO RX17 Pro
  • Honor View 20
  • Huawei P30 Pro
  • Huawei Mate 30 Pro
  • Huawei P40 Pro
  • ОPPO Reno
  • Sony Xperia XZ4

These cameras can help you sense the depth and measure the distance of the subjects. These ToF cameras can take your photography skill to a whole new level. 

How does Depth Sensor Camera work?

If you want to have portrait pictures, the depth sensor camera does the job for you. 

The ToF cameras generate the busy sharp backgrounds into the soft spread of blurred pictures, resulting in the object coming into the focus and the background light points turning into softer circle points. This creates a shallow depth in portrait pictures that look appealing to the eye. 

The depth sensor cameras help in estimating the depth. They can also help you blur the background with cool effects and easily differentiate the subject from the background. 

How Can I Use The Depth Sensor Camera?

Apart from sensing the depth and calculating the distance, the ToF cameras can be used in a variety of other ways. If you are wondering how to use a depth sensor camera, the following are the uses:

It helps In Motion tracking

No wonder how ToF cameras can also support motion tracking. Smartphone LG G8 ThinQ has a depth sensor that can detect gestures performed in the air. Unbelievable, right? 

Google Play also has a few motion games available that are supported by the ToF cameras. 

Creates 3D Models

Undoubtedly, the depth sensor cameras take brilliant selfies by automatically focusing on the subject and blurring the background. The ToF cameras can also enable you to create 3D models. Looks joke, right? This is actually true! It can even help you to create 3D model parts of cars or other mechanic tools. 

There are also depth sensor camera apps and games available for both Android and iOS. You can easily download them from the Appstore or the Google Play Store. These games and apps can help you taste the maximum benefits of the ToF camera and thoroughly enjoy augmented reality. 

Blur Background While Taking Pictures

how depth sensor camera works

ToF cameras can be used to add an in-depth field of view so that you can blur the background and differentiate the subject from the loud background. Currently, this feature is available only for photos and not videos. You can also use this feature to avoid unnecessary objects or backgrounds that ruin your picture. 

In addition to it, the ToF camera also supports autofocus, thus, automatically blurring your background and taking great selfies!

Users also Saw: How to use your Old Phone like a Hidden Camera


  1. Is the depth sensor fake?

The ToF cameras are not fake and play a significant role in taking portrait selfies. No reputed company would add a fake depth sensor camera to their android phone as the reputation is more valuable than the profit earned.

  1. How do I know if my depth sensor is working?

You can quickly test if the depth sensor camera is working on your phone or not. Just open the camera on your phone and take a selfie in a portrait mode. The depth camera is working if it blurs the background and focuses on the subject. 

  1. Does iPhone have depth camera?

Yes, iPhones do support depth cameras, but all iPhone models may not have the ToF camera. To have a depth camera in your iPhone, make sure you buy the latest iPhone model and that your iPhone supports portrait in a selfie mode. If it does, your iPhone has a depth sensor camera. 


Phones to get a night vision feature or a precise object measuring feature won’t have been possible without the invention of depth sensor cameras. This has become one of the most interesting technologies by far, and we’re only getting started. 

It is unbelievable that a small ToF camera can do so much. Though much information about these depth-sensing cameras isn’t available on the net, too, we hope we will get to hear them more once the application for the ToF camera launches.

And who will say now that this is a useless addition to a basic smartphone? Would you? Comment your views and let us know. 

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