The iPhone 7 Could Have Two Rear Cameras

A forthcoming iPhone could feature two camera lenses instead of one, allowing users to zoom in at high resolution and record two types of video simultaneously before seamlessly splicing them together. Apple outlined the potential plans in a patent application for a dual-lens smartphone camera design filed earlier this year.

An artist's impression of an iPhone with two cameras. Photo: YouTube: MacRumors

It would feature a regular, wide-angle camera lens — the kind seen on current iPhones — and a new telephoto lens whichcan zoom in at long distances without reducing picture quality.

Users could switch easily between both cameras by tapping a part of the regular camera's image on the screen to open a split screen with the zoom lens next to it, according to the filing.

An artist's depiction of what an iPhone dual camera zoom system could look like. Photo: Matt Gonzalez/YouTube: MacRumors

The cameras could be used simultaneously and separately. For instance, one could record video while the other took images; or one could take standard video while the other recorded in slow motion.

The footage would be saved as two separate files with a time-stamp so the phone knows they are linked. That means it could then be viewed and edited together using the iPhone's video editing software.

Anyone who's tried to capture images or video at full zoom using a smartphone will know how much quality is lost when zooming in with software rather than a specifically designed lens.

The addition of a telephoto lens could put the iPhone back in front of rivals like Samsung, whose brand new Galaxy S7 smartphones have been receiving rave reviews thanks to their vastly improved vastly improved dual-pixel camera. (Dual-pixel is not the same as dual-lens; dual-pixel allows the camera to read more of the image when focusing, resulting in much faster auto-focus.)

In its patent application, Apple said users had come to demand high-quality camera specs on their phones for everyday use, but that features like zoom were just not cutting it.

"Providing the zoom feature in a camera unit of a multifunction device has traditionally required moving mechanical parts that increase complexity and cost of the device," the application reads.

"Such moving parts also reduce reliability of the device and take up valuable space inside the device, which puts the desire for zoom functions in direct conflict with the desire for smaller camera units."

Apple acquired an Israeli camera technology company called LinX Imaging last year, which specialises in designing high-quality, thin camera lenses and imaging software.

MacRumors believes the dual-lens camera technology could be a direct result of Apple integrating LinX's existing technology into its phones.

The website believes a dual-lens set-up could ship with the larger "phablet" version of Apple's next flagship smartphone, the iPhone 7 Plus. The new flagship, along with the smaller iPhone 7 model, is expected to be unveiled later this year.

An even more compact – and more affordable – "iPhone SE" handset is also rumoured to be revealed in a matter of weeks.

This article originally appeared in Digital Life, The Sydney Morning Herald's home for everything technology. Follow Digital Life on Facebook and Twitter.


Comments

    Not covered by what they explained but other reasons for doubling up lenses:
    - Good quality HDR images without ghosts
    - HDR video
    - 3D

    I just want an omled 2k display that is cutting edge like the rest of the market, rather than the awful "retina" display and a USB port that actually lives upto the "lightning" moniker... Something modern like USB 3.1 and the USB-C connector
    Maybe eve make it slightly thicker to put a bigger battery I. To give us a phone that lasts 24hrs...
    Maybe that's just too innovative for the "2 years old" tech apple use.

      The USB-C phones I've touched have had an awful sloppy connection. Lightning is one of the most solid connections I've ever used with any cable.

    I'll be impressed if the rear and front cameras are able to record 360 degrees while operating in unison. Now that would screw with everyone's shit.

    If all of this information is correct, then... What a waste of time, resources, and then also waste of money that the end user has to pay for such a useless thing. I hope that they either don't do this or that they have better reasons and capabilities for it.

      Some people like taking good pictures.

        If you really wanted to take good photos, you would have a camera. NEX5N would cost a couple hundred bucks these days. Still much better than iphone. (I have both)

    If they retain the audio jack, then I'm happy.

      I have to say I don't understand the love for such an old connection type. If 3.5mm does indeed go, Lightning or aptX Bluetooth are perfectly good alternatives for most people. Arguably better in fact.

        For a start, corded headphones don't require as much power.

        The umpteen amount of accessories that use the 3.5mm jack suddenly become useless without an adapter.

        More wear and tear on a single socket and more likely to break IMO.

        The other gripe is if you what to utilize both the Ligthning port and headphones at the same time.

        Granted, there might be a splicing adapters in the pike that'll concurrently charge and utilise an accessory simultaneously. But geez, how much more space is Apple gaining by dropping the audio jack?

        Their silly obsession with making thinner handsets is probably main the driver, or it's just another way to get more royalities from accessory manufactures.

        Just my 2c worth.

        Last edited 10/03/16 1:37 pm

          Good points. But the rumour mill's in full flow that Apple will ignore existing uses/users. They did with Dock>Lightning too.
          Is kind of irrelevant to me anyway as I'll not buy an iPhone.
          I can see why they'd want to save space there (as a percentage, it'll be a significant saving). But personally I'd rather they just double or triple the thickness of the thing so it's comfortable to hold and just make it full of battery.

            True that and to pack higher capacity battery.

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