iPhone Periscope Camera Patent Granted Ahead of Rumored 2022 or 2023 Debut

Apple has been granted a broad patent for a periscope camera system, which is rumored to be coming to the iPhone for the first time as soon as next year.

Huawei P30 Pro periscope camera cross section
The patent, spotted by Patently Apple, is simply titled "Folded camera," and was filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Periscope camera systems attempt to address the problem of internal size constraints inside a smartphone that can limit image quality. The patent explains:

The advent of small, mobile multipurpose devices such as smartphones and tablet or pad devices has resulted in a need for high-resolution, small form factor cameras that are lightweight, compact, and capable of capturing high resolution, high quality images at low F-numbers for integration in the devices... Thus, a challenge from an optical system design point of view is to provide an imaging lens system that is capable of capturing high brightness, high resolution images under the physical constraints imposed by small form factor cameras.

With folded camera optics, light absorbed by the image sensor is bent or "folded," allowing for increased optical zoom and improved image quality while maintaining a compact lens design appropriate for smartphones. The patent describes some of these advantages, saying that "the prisms provide a "folded" optical axis for the camera, for example to reduce the Z-height of the camera."

Periscope technology would allow for significantly increased optical zoom on iPhones, well beyond the current 2x and 2.5x limits on the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max, respectively. Huawei's P40 Pro+ smartphone, for example, features a periscope lens with up to 10x optical zoom.

apple folded camera patent
Apple's folded camera system includes two light folding elements, such as prisms, and an independent lens system located between the two light folding elements. This lens system includes an aperture stop and a lens stack. The lens system may be moved independently of the light folding elements to provide autofocus and optical image stabilization.

The shapes, materials, and arrangements of the refractive lens elements in the lens stack may be selected to capture high resolution, high quality images while providing a sufficiently long back focal length to accommodate the second prism.

The first ‌iPhone‌ models featuring a periscope camera lens system are expected to arrive in 2022 or 2023. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo initially said that the technology would come to the ‌iPhone‌ in 2022, but has since revised his expectation to say 2023. Other reports, such as from The Elec, have maintained that the periscope camera will arrive on at least some iPhone models in 2022.

Apple was initially said to have run into trouble developing its own periscope camera system because much of the technology is guarded by other patents, and thus was looking to purchase the components from the patent holders instead. Samsung, for example, owns the "ball-type actuator" technology used in many periscope lenses.

The granting of this patent may indicate that Apple had found a way to get around the reach of existing patents by developing its own technology with two light folding prisms, where only one prism would normally be used. This may avoid the need to license or buy components from patent holders while retaining the advantages of a periscope system.

Nevertheless, the patent serves as yet another indication that Apple is advancing its plans to bring a periscope camera to the ‌iPhone‌ to improve image quality and optical zoom capability, as well as potentially reduce the need for a rear camera bump.

Tag: patent

Top Rated Comments

SkyRom Avatar
14 weeks ago
As a US Navy submarine Veteran I can confirm the urgent need for iPhones with periscopes ?
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheYayAreaLiving Avatar
14 weeks ago
Massive upgrade! Can’t wait what Apple will bring. People will be blown away.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
HiRez Avatar
14 weeks ago
Would really be great to have something like a true portrait lens in the 75-105mm equivalent available without a weird hump or clip-on accessory.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rpmurray Avatar
14 weeks ago
Patent Troll litigation activated in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ....
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
v3rlon Avatar
14 weeks ago
I recognize the need for patents, but it does feel like the current system stifles innovation at times.

When companies are forced to over complicate designs just to circumvent patents protecting technology that has existed for over 100 years, it just seems silly.

If aliens landed tomorrow and GIFTED you a manufacturing system to make smart phones based on growing crystals out of recycling carbon emissions, you would still unable to mass produce them because you have to connect to a network.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
scartart Avatar
14 weeks ago

Patent Troll litigation activated in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ....
No, they'll wait until the phone is launched and selling well so they can claim damages and demand a cut of the revenue.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

iphone12protriplelenscamera

Apple Shuffles Suppliers for Periscope Telephoto Lens in 2023 iPhones

Thursday September 2, 2021 2:27 am PDT by
Apple hopes to circumvent Samsung in the supply of components for a "folded" telephoto lens for 2023 iPhones, according to unnamed sources cited by Korean website The Elec. The report claims Apple has approached Jahwa Electronics, which is part of Samsung's supply chain, to supply an optical image stabilization module for the camera. Jahwa co-developed the technology with Samsung, which...
iphone 12 pro triple camera video

Rumors Persist of 2022 iPhones With Periscope Lens, Could Allow Up to 10x Zoom Without Blurriness

Monday December 7, 2020 7:07 am PST by
Apple may use components made by Samsung for a "folded" telephoto lens on at least some iPhone models released in 2022, allowing for significantly increased optical zoom, according to unnamed sources cited by Korean website The Elec. The report claims that Samsung's Electro-Mechanics subsidiary would supply components such as actuators and lenses to LG, which in turn would use the components ...
iphone 13 pro max cameras

All of the New iPhone 13 Camera Features: Macro, Cinematic Mode, Photographic Styles, Sensor Improvements and More

Tuesday September 14, 2021 3:56 pm PDT by
With the launch of the iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro, and iPhone 13 Pro Max, Apple introduced several updated camera features, some of which are hardware based and some of which are software based. Notably, the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max now have identical camera systems, a departure from the different cameras featured in the iPhone 12 Pro and the 12 Pro Max. As usual,...
periscope iPhone feature2

Apple Moving Forward With Plans for 'Folded' Periscope Cameras to Significantly Increase iPhone's Optical Zoom

Monday November 30, 2020 8:01 am PST by
Apple is advancing its plans to significantly enhance the iPhone's optical zoom range using periscope lens technology, according to ETNews. Citing industry sources familiar with the development of iPhone cameras, ETNews says Apple is currently seeking an appropriate "folded" periscope camera solution for the iPhone and has already initiated discussions with suppliers. Apple has filed patent...
PMClogonewer

Apple Won't Have to Pay $309M After Judge Accuses Patent Troll of Abusing System to Fleece Tech Companies

Friday August 6, 2021 11:10 am PDT by
Apple today scored a victory in an ongoing patent dispute with Personalized Media Communications (PMC), with the judge overseeing the case tossing out the $308.5 million verdict that Personalized Media Communications won in March, reports Bloomberg. Apple was a victim of PMC's plan to milk the tech industry for high royalties on old ideas, U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap said when...
samsung z fold 3 front

Hands-On With Samsung's New $1,800 Galaxy Z Fold 3

Thursday August 26, 2021 1:16 pm PDT by
Samsung earlier this month unveiled the new Galaxy Z Fold 3, its latest flagship foldable smartphone. We thought we'd check out the Z Fold 3 to see the technology improvements that Samsung has made to its foldable smartphone lineup. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Foldable smartphones are still expensive, and as a Samsung flagship, the Z Fold 3 is priced starting...
iphone 13 pro austin mann telephoto main

Photographer Austin Mann's iPhone 13 Pro Test Looks at Camera Improvements With Macro, Photographic Styles, New Lenses, and More

Wednesday September 22, 2021 9:35 am PDT by
The photographer Austin Mann has today published his in-depth annual review of the latest iPhone's camera capabilities, this time focusing on the iPhone 13 Pro. Mann's tests were performed in Ruaha National Park, Tanzania, looking at each of the iPhone 13 Pro's camera upgrades, including Macro mode, increased telephoto zoom and Cinematic mode. ProRAW image shot with the iPhone 13 Pro's ...
applewatchseries4lte

Apple Ordered to Pay Optis Wireless $300 Million in Second LTE Patent Trial

Monday August 16, 2021 1:39 am PDT by
Apple must pay $300 million in damages to Optis Wireless Technology for infringing a handful of patents related to 4G LTE technology, a Texas jury has ruled (via Reuters). In August 2020, a jury found that Apple had infringed five Optis wireless patents and awarded $506 million in damages, but a Texas judge vacated that award in April and ordered a new trial to focus on damages only. US...
iphone camera comparison road twilight

iPhone 13 Camera Comparison: If You Have an Older iPhone, It's Time to Upgrade

Friday October 1, 2021 11:05 am PDT by
Comparing the iPhone 13 models to the iPhone 12 models makes the iPhone 13 update seem uninspired and unnecessary, but for those who have an older iPhone, it's a different story, especially when it comes to camera quality. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. We compared the iPhone 13 to the iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 8, and iPhone 6, and have come to the conclusion that if...
applewatchheartrate2

Apple Can't Escape Apple Watch Heart Rate Sensor Patent Lawsuit, Court Rules

Monday August 2, 2021 1:03 pm PDT by
Apple must face a patent infringement lawsuit over the heart rate technology in the Apple Watch, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled today. Back in 2018, Apple was sued by Omni MedSci, with the company alleging that Apple used its patented technology in the Apple Watch. Apple reportedly met with Omni MedSci between 2014 to 2016 to discuss a possible partnership,...