Apple has been granted a new patent for a periscopic camera system, which, according to the latest leaks, should arrive on the iPhone for the first time next year. The iPhone 14 could then finally offer a zoom to match the competition.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office has granted Apple a patent for a compact camera that uses a set of prisms to «fold» light and compress the space needed for a telephoto lens. This type of lens is generally called a «periscope» in smartphones, and is easily recognizable thanks to its rectangular shape.
The current iPhone 12 does not offer a telephoto lens at all, while the iPhone 12 Pro offers a telephoto lens allowing a 2X optical zoom and the iPhone 12 Pro Max brings it to 2.5X. The iPhone 12 series offers a digital zoom up to 5X, while the iPhone 12 Pro goes up to 10X and the iPhone 12 Pro Max 12X. The iPhone 13 should not improve this part much, since major changes are expected for the iPhone 14.
PERISCOPE FOR IPHONE 14 PRO?
Zoom lenses require a certain distance between the rear and front elements, and the higher the zoom factor, the longer that distance must be for a given aperture. A periscope lens would allow Apple to stack the lenses vertically. This is a technique used for a long time by its competitors, such as Huawei and Samsung. The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra features, for example, a 10X optical zoom lens.
According to the patent, the Apple periscope zoom camera has two prisms, an infrared filter, four to five lenses and a photo sensor. The patent also mentions that the periscope camera has an f/2.4 aperture and a 3X optical zoom, but we imagine that Apple will offer at least a 5X or 10X optical zoom if it does not want to be too much of a troll against Android smartphones. Indeed, we know that Samsung is working on the best zoom ever seen on smartphone for its Galaxy S22 Ultra.
The first iPhone models with a periscope camera lens system are expected to arrive in 2022 or 2023. The famous analyst Ming-Chi Kuo had initially declared that the technology would arrive on the iPhone in 2022, but he has since declared that a periscope would not finally arrive before 2023. It will therefore take some time to find out whether or not Apple plans to use its smartphones from 2022.