Yongnuo Patents Unusual Smartphone and Camera System Combo

Yongnuo has already released a mirrorless camera system designed to be used in tandem with a smartphone, but the company seems to be interested in iterating on that design further. According to a new patent, the latest design looks more seamless and user-friendly.

Yongnuo’s YN43 micro four-thirds sensor with a Canon EF mount was interesting, but the design looked cumbersome. The physical connection point, for example, was a simple clamp and the entire system did not feel like it was meant to stay together outside of the exact moment you wanted to take a photo.

Yongnuo seems to have noticed this flaw, as the new patent states that the “existing external lens assembly is mostly mounted on the mobile terminal by clamping,” and that “the external lens assembly is easy to fall off from the mobile terminal, resulting in low practicability of the external lens assembly.”

Wanting to increase the practicality of its device, Yongnuo’s patent seems to embrace a phone-case-like design. The company’s patent says that the purpose of this new design is explicitly “to provide an external lens assembly, a mobile terminal and a photographing device that are convenient to use.”

The design points to that “mobile terminal” as a separate part from the sensor and lens array and slides into place using some form of locking mechanism. That mobile terminal features a touchscreen and doesn’t appear to be just any modern smartphone; the designs look to show a specific Yongnuo smartphone with an exposed sensor that slides into place on the rest of the module that holds the grip and the lens mount.

While building a device specific to one smartphone may make the whole operation more usable and seamless, it also means that anyone interested in the device would have to purchase not only the lens mount and grip portion but also a new smartphone. This clearly would limit who would be interested in the product.

With that exposed sensor, it’s likely Yongnuo would also need to produce some kind of body cap to protect it when it wasn’t attached to the lens mount part.

The patent is particularly robust, which makes it seem like Yongnyo is entertaining the idea of building an entire line of lenses and developing a new standard based on the modular design. Theoretically, the company could release multiple iterations of the sensor and smartphone part that would work with existing grip and lens mount offerings and vice versa. If Yongnuo manages to make a product like this, it would be the first of its kind: a smartphone line made with the express purpose of combining a portable smartphone that features a large, mirrorless sensor and an external interchangeable lens and grip.

The key question after that would be if such a system would be popular enough to support in the long run.

(via Lighting Rumors)