Apple has been granted a new patent for a periscope camera system, which, according to the latest leaks, is expected to arrive on the iPhone for the first time as early as next year. The iPhone 14 could then finally offer a zoom at the height of the competition.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple a patent for a compact camera that uses a set of prisms to “bend” 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 2X optical zoom and the iPhone 12 Pro Max brings it to 2.5X. The iPhone 12 series offers digital zoom up to 5X, while the iPhone 12 Pro goes up to 10X and the iPhone 12 Pro Max 12X. The iPhone 13 shouldn’t improve that part much, since major changes are expected for the iPhone 14.
A periscope for the iPhone 14 Pro?
Zoom lenses require a certain distance between the rear and front elements, and the higher the zoom factor, the longer this distance must be for a given aperture. A periscope lens would allow Apple to stack the lenses vertically. This is a technique that has long been used by its competitors, such as Huawei and Samsung. The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has for example10X optical zoom.
According to the patent, Apple’s 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 3X optical zoom., but we imagine that Apple will offer at least a 5X or 10X optical zoom if it does not want to lag too far behind Android smartphones. Indeed, we know that Samsung is working on the best zoom ever seen on a smartphone for its Galaxy S22 Ultra.
The first iPhone models with a periscope camera lens system are expected to arrive in 2022 or 2023. Famous analyst Ming-Chi Kuo initially said the technology will arrive on the iPhone in 2022, but has since said that a periscope would ultimately not arrive before 2023. We will therefore have to wait a little longer to find out whether or not Apple intends to benefit its smartphones from 2022.