Apple’s new patent reveals radical new camera tech for future iPhones

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It seems that Apple is going all out with the performance of its cameras for its future smartphone. Earlier, we had reported that the iPhone 14 Pro will be getting a completely new 48MP sensor

for its main camera, along with a couple of other cameras. We had also reported that the front facing camera would be an autofocus one.

Apple’s new patent reveals radical new camera tech for future iPhones

Now, it seems that Apple is thinking of taking things up a notch, by giving users an improved zoom system, thanks to an all new lens technology that Apple has recently patented. Do note, that the new iPhone 14 lineup, will not be getting this new tech.

The patent, which was first spotted by PatentlyApple, showcases a new folded telephoto lens, with a novel single-prism design. Folded lenses typically use complex systems of prisms and/or mirrors to reroute light sideways within a smartphone’s housing. However, when light passes through an optical element, it refracts or diffracts, depending on the kind of optical elements involved. What this means is that the more elements that light has to pass through, the worse becomes the final picture quality.

In very rudimentary terms, Apple’s prism system can deploy a number of different configurations of reflective surfaces, anti-reflective surfaces and aperture masks in order to produce the desired result without the need for as many optical components. Sure, you’re losing out on light, and hence will need higher ISOs or wider apertures, but the light that will be received by the sensor will be largely unrefracted or diffracted.

Apple’s new patent reveals radical new camera tech for future iPhones

A telephoto lens that can be used in a smartphone without adding too much thickness to the body of the smartphone, is notoriously difficult to make and even more difficult to calibrate. On top of that, the image that we get from these lenses is hardly able to hold a candle to the images that are taken from the regular, main camera. 

If Apple indeed manages to get their new system working iPhones of the future will have the best overall camera systems, that, apart from shooting great images just from the main camera, will also be able to shoot some really stunning images with the telephoto lens. It will also help Apple to come up with a much needed, all new digital zoom system for the cameras.

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