Noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo previously predicted significant improvements to two of the three iPhone lenses in 2021 and 2022, respectively. A new report today suggests, however, that we will not see any matching improvements in the main lens.
Kuo’s previous reports say that we can expect remarkable improvements of the ultra-wide lens this year, and an even more dramatic boost for the telephoto lens next year …
An earlier Kuo note said we can expect three improvements to the ultra-wide lens this year.
First, he expects the aperture to be expanded from f / 2.4 to f / 1.8. All other things being equal, it would let in more than twice as much light, and significantly improve performance in low light. In particular, it should allow sharper and cleaner night shots.
Second, sources indicate that the number of elements in the lens is increased from five to six. There are pros and cons to adding elements to a lens, but when a manufacturer takes an existing lens design and adds elements, this is usually done to reduce distortion, which is especially important in wide-angle lenses.
Finally, he expects the ultra-wide lens to get autofocus for the first time. The current ultra-wide lens has fixed focus. This may sound surprising, but is generally not a big problem in very wide-angle lenses, as they are mostly used for landscapes and cityscapes, where everything that is taken is far enough to be in focus. However, switching to autofocus will be useful for closer wide-angle images.
A separate report predicted a far more dramatic change in the telephoto lens in 2022 – which created the possibility of up to 10 times optical zoom on the telephoto lens. We have previously explained how a periscope lens design can dramatically increase optical zoom.
You may not be familiar with periscopes unless you are a submarine fan or old enough to have had one as a childhood toy. It is essentially a tube with two 45-degree lenses mounted at each end of them. You look into one end and can see an image reflected from the other end.
A periscope lens uses the same principle, but with only one mirror, to bend the light 90 degrees.
This provides greater optical zoom. How much optical zoom is an open question [but] Samsung’s Galaxy S20 Ultra uses a periscope lens to provide a 10x optical zoom, so it’s clearly practical in a modern smartphone.
Today’s iPhone Lens Report
His latest report focuses on likely battles between Apple’s competing vendors, but includes a few product references.
First, he says the 2021 lens will be a ‘7P’. This is the industry talking about a lens with seven plastic elements, which is the same as the main lens of the iPhone 12. Second, he specifically says that we should not expect any significant lens upgrade between 2021 and 2022 models.
In our previous report, we presented the forecast without consensus that Sunny Optical will ship iPhone 7P lenses in 2021 […] We predict […] no significant upgrade of the iPhone lens in 2022.
Some believe this means no improvement some of the lenses in 2021 and 2022 iPhones, but I think this is misreading. Kuo has an overview of referring to his previous predictions when new information emerges, so the fact that he does not go back to any of the previous ones leads me to conclude that today’s note only refers to the primary lens.
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