Google’s newest Android 14 bringing a major upgrade for mobile photography with the introduction of Ultra HDR. The new format captures photos with a wide 10-bit dynamic range and vivid color depth.
Initially, only Google Photos will support shooting pics in Ultra HDR on Android 14. But Google envisions it becoming the default camera format across the operating system in the future.
To take full advantage of the over 8-bit color depth, Ultra HDR requires flagship-level hardware. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset will enable compatible Android devices to shoot in Ultra HDR later this year. Google has worked closely with Qualcomm and other partners to optimize Ultra HDR performance across devices.
Behind the scenes, an Ultra HDR photo comprises a standard 8-bit JPEG image, a lower-resolution secondary JPEG, and metadata to reconstruct the HDR image. This clever structure maintains backward compatibility with SDR displays while tapping into the full dynamic range on HDR screens.
By retaining the rich 10-bit color of HDR in a familiar JPEG package, Ultra HDR format provides the best of both worlds. Users can still easily share and view photos while benefiting from HDR’s dramatic visual enhancements.
As camera hardware and displays continue improving, Ultra HDR will likely replace traditional JPEGs as the standard Android picture format. Google is future-proofing and raising the bar for mobile photography with another valuable Android update.
The new feature may seem niche right now, but it won’t be long before Ultra HDR becomes the norm. With Android 14, Google continues bridging the gap between smartphone and dedicated camera performance – much to the delight of habitual phone photographers.