iPhone 7 Camera Hardware – What to expect?

December 25, 2015

 

iPhone 7 expectations

The allegedly named Apple’s next phone the iPhone 7 has been getting a lot of attention lately. People are trying  to guess its features based on rumors, patent infringement cases and leaked information. I personally most interested about its camera. Apple has shown a strong presence in the camera’s image quality section since its first iPhone device.

Since then, the competition was able to not just keep up with Apple, but improve upon it. Digital cameras like those in the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus and Sony Xperia Z5 has shown us that Apple is no longer a leader in that sector, leaving the iPhone 6s Plus behind (According to DxOMark image quality tests’ mobile ratings).

Many phone reviews confirmed this as well. Thus many people might ask themselves, whether Apple has some new secret technologies for its iPhone 7 camera  that will help it pass the competition?

Personally, I don’t expect that Apple will come up with anything special, at least not as far as its camera goes.  If there was any new technology , we probably would have seen it by now on one of the new Android devices. Don’t get me wrong, there are some new technologies out there,  but we haven’t seen any sign that those are coming out in 2016, but who knows.

iPhone 7 needs a fast(er) Aperture

I expect the iPhone 7 camera to obviously improve upon its predecessors, the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. We most certainly going to see a faster aperture than the iPhone 6s’ f/2.2 one. I expect it to be at least an f/1.8 aperture to be able to compete well in the low-light photography department.

Just for comparison:

  • f/2.0: Google Nexus 6, Motorola Droid Turbo, asus ZenFone 2, HTC One M8, Sony Xperia Z5
  • f/1.9: Nokia Lumia 730, Sharp Aquos Crystal X, Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
  • f/1.8: Acer Liquid Jade, Vivo Xplay Xshot, Lenovo K900, UMi Zero, Xiaomi Mi4, LG G4

There are many more smartphone cameras that have a f/2.0 or faster aperture, so obviously Apple should improve upon that if it won’t to show a competitive low-light performance.

Carl Zeiss Optics in iPhone 7?

I don’t known if we ever see Zeiss optics on one of Apple’s next devices anytime soon, but know doubt that many companies emphasize their optics manufacturer brand to convince buyers with its camera performance. Everybody knows Carl Zeiss, and that brand name means superior optical performance.  Apple has a contract with the optical lens maker, Largan Precision, which is the world’s largest maker of optical lenses for mobile phones (source).

That said, that name isn’t recognized like Carl Zeiss brand name, like the one uses in some of Sony’s and Nokia smartphone cameras.  I don’t see this changing anytime soon, but who knows, maybe Apple will come up with another branded  lens for its new iPhone 7.

Will iPhone 7 feature new Lens Technologies

I’m sure that many people would have liked to see an optical zoom in the iPhone 7. The competition already camera up with some really innovative ideas, including Nokia with its PureView lossless digital zoom and we’ve seen smartphones with an optical zoom design.

the are technologies which haven’t been used yet, which allows an optical zoom mechanism in a tight space. When looking at a camera like the Light L16, you can just wonder how future mobile phone cameras would look like.

As you can see, it would have been amazing to have a technology solution that will allow an optical zoom and greater control over the depth of field.  This specific is probably not the right solution because it’s very expensive (~$1699 retail price) but with new ideas come even better ones. I’m sure that the latest innovations in the digital imaging department inspires any company, not just Apple, to improve its camera in order to stay relevant.

Those new lens tech solutions should obviously be much cheaper than what we’ve seen. The thing is that whatever tech idea Apple might present in the new iPhone 7, it should be much cheaper than that of the L6 camera. I haven’t find anything about any true innovation.

iPhone 7 ought to have a Bigger Sensor

Some rumors suggest that the iPhone 7 will have a 21-megapixel DSLR quality camera. True or not, 21-megapixel will only result in good performance if those pixels are packs on a relatively larger sensor.  This obviously should be a sensor larger than the 1/3″ one found on the iPhone 6s and 6s+.  The Z5 features a 1/2.3″ sensor, which is a relatively large sensor in mobile camera terms.

It would been amazing to see a 1-inch sensor like the one in the Panasonic Lumix CM1, but again, this will bump up the phone costs by a large margin. Apple also wants its phones to look slim, and a larger sensor would mean a larger profile. I predict that Apple would choose the 1/2.3″ sensor this time for the iPhone 7.

Will iPhone 7 have a Dual-Camera Setup

There is what seems like an evidence that Apple is experimenting with a dual-camera technology. There are already some smartphone that uses this solution, but with the right technology, it can really improve the camera’s performance. So there is a good possibility that we’ll see a dual-camera setup in the next iPhone 7 camera.

Conclusion

Obviously these all are just guesses, and Apple can still surprise us with something entirely different and revolutionary. It did it before, so it can do this again. I don’t know how many people really believe that Apple can pull it out again as it did in the first iPhone iterations. In order for Apple to be first, it has to come up with an entirely new patented technology that will amaze its competitors.

In the past couple of years I’ve found myself being continually disappointed after each new iPhone reveal. Maybe this time Apple will come up with a camera that is different with anything we’ve seen lately. The wait is always exciting, even if you are disappointed at the end of the day. What I know for sure is that due to high demand, digital imaging technologies will continue to improve. If we won’t see anything revolutionary in 2016, we might see it the following year.

 



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