Apple will likely unveil the iPhone 7 in September 2016, and a new rumor has surfaced about the camera. According to Ming-Chi Kuo from KGI Securities, the iPhone 7 Plus will come with a dual-lens system option and leverage LinX’s technology. Apple acquired LinX in April 2015, a camera module maker working on multi-lens systems.
While Ming-Chi Kuo has a good track record when it comes to Apple predictions, Apple has used the same camera module in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and a better version of this module in the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. The only camera difference between the “iPhone Plus” and its 4.7-inch variant is that the large models feature optical image stabilization.
Reserving the dual-camera system to the iPhone 7 Plus would be a departure from Apple’s current strategy when it comes to the camera module. But there could be supply chain constraints pushing Apple to reserve this new module to some models only.
Now, why would Apple put two cameras at the back of your iPhone? There are many potential use cases. LinX has built a hardware and software solution to make two (or more) lenses seamlessly work together. For instance, a dual-lens system could improve background defocus and recreate depth of field — background defocus is one of the reasons why people use low aperture DSLR lenses.
Two cameras could also improve low-light performance, color fidelity and HDR performance. And this module could let you focus on the foreground or the background after capturing a photo, like with a Lytro.
Another option would be to let you switch between one lens and the other for two different optical zoom options. For instance, the second one could let you capture full-size images with 3x magnification. Having an optical zoom would be a good alternative to third-party lenses like the Olloclip lenses.
It’s unclear whether a dual-camera system would slim down camera design. Apple is always looking for ways to make the iPhone slimmer. The company is thinking about curved photosensors, which looks like a more promising way to make the camera slimmer.
Back in December, 60 Minutes unveiled that 800 people are working on the iPhone camera at Apple. It’s an important focus for Apple as millions of people are relying on their iPhones to shoot photos and videos. And switching to a dual-lens system would open a wide array of new creative features.