The tiny capacitor next to its larger predecessor.

Xenon tubes have been used in camera flashes for decades but have been pushed out of the smartphone market by low-voltage, more efficient LED lights. This has come at a major cost to smartphone photographers. The tiny LED light found in most camera phones is only strong enough to cast an eerie, unattractive blue glow onto everything in its path.

Xenon flashes are present in some modern smartphones—most notably the Nokia 808 Pureview—but have been ignored by most manufacturers.  Xenon flashes are much brightter than LEDs, but a major reason for xenon’s lack of popularity in smartphones is that the hardware is simply bigger - too big, usually, to fit into an ultra-slim phone. The other is that unlike LEDs, xenon flashes can't double as video lights. 

Companies are working to find a cure for the LED blues. This week, researchers from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore along with partner Xenon Technologies—the world’s largest producer of xenon flashes—announced a tiny capacitor for xenon flashes that it claims is just as powerful as its larger counterparts but is also faster.

The new capacitor from Nayang Technological University is set to be released this September. With top product manufacturers battling over camera specs, the flash may be the next step in appealing to photo-conscious consumers.