Apple May Introduce 'Biggest Camera Jump Ever' in Next-Generation iPhone
Apple may introduce its "biggest camera jump ever" in the next-generation iPhone, according to Daring Fireball's John Gruber (via The Tech Block). In a recent episode of his podcast The Talk Show, Gruber said that he heard "from a birdie of a birdie" that Apple is working on major camera improvements.
The specific thing I heard is that next years camera might be the biggest camera jump ever. I don't even know what sense this makes, but I've heard that it's some kind of weird two-lens system where the back camera uses two lenses and it somehow takes it up into DSLR quality imagery.
Gruber says that he's heard that Apple's rear camera could incorporate a two-lens system, which sounds somewhat similar to the Duo Lens camera that was introduced with the HTC One M8. In the One M8, a standard sensor is combined with an "Ultrapixel" sensor that lets in much more light to improve image quality. The secondary lens in the M8 is used to provide additional image information to the first lens, which also lets the focus be shifted.
Another two lens system that hints at what a two-lens setup in the iPhone might be capable of is being developed by Corephotonics. Corephotonics' system takes advantage of two lenses with separate focal lengths, switching between lenses to magnify distant subjects without the need for a traditional zoom.
With two lenses, the Corephotonics system compares images taken from both, choosing the clearest pixels for the best overall photo. It also utilizes a lens that only snaps black and white images, improving fidelity and allowing in additional light.
Given the fact that there's little information on what Apple's actually working on for its next-generation iPhone, it's hard to say whether a potential two-lens system would work in the same way as the above examples, but two-lens cameras are a new frontier that manufacturers are exploring in order to improve image quality while keeping devices slim.
Apple's iPhone has long been the most popular camera choice on image sharing site Flickr, and over the years, Apple has embraced iPhone photography. Each new iPhone iteration includes significant camera improvements, with its "S" upgrades often bringing the biggest improvements. With the iPhone 4s, for example, Apple introduced an improved 8-megapixel camera that marked a large jump in quality over the iPhone 4 camera, and with the iPhone 5s, Apple included an improved sensor, an aperture of f/2.2, a True-Tone flash feature, better autofocus, and a new "Slo-Mo" mode.
Apple introduced some impressive camera improvements with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, including a new Apple-designed image signal processor with Focus Pixels, but it's possible even better camera improvements are being saved for the introduction of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus in 2015.
Just yesterday longtime Apple supplier Sony unveiled a new 21-megapixel "stacked" sensor with ultra fast autofocus and 4K HDR video. While the 21-megapixel version is unlikely to make its way into iOS devices, it's possible that Apple's next iPhone could incorporate an upcoming Sony 16-megapixel sensor that includes the same impressive features.