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Apple is reportedly hoping to boost the optical zoom skills of future iPhone cameras by deploying the now-familiar periscope-style lens.
According to a report from Korean language publication ET News and another from Digitimes (via 9to5 Mac), Apple is the last smartphone manufacturer looking to include folded cameras to boost zoom capabilities without adding additional girth to the iPhone.
The sources say Apple is already in discussions with one company over the manufacturer of the component. That means it’s possible we could see this improvement as soon as the iPhone 13 next year, although previous hints from the likes of noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo have suggested the 2022 iPhones could be more likely.
Related: Best iPhone 2020
Optical zoom, of course, enables photographers to get closer to their subjects without sacrificing quality and resolution. That differs from the digital zoom currently offered in most smartphones, which results in grainy and pixelated images when overused.
Samsung is one of a number of manufacturers who’ve already solved this issue using the periscope style design for the lens. The lens sits at a horizontal angle across the width of the phone, rather than straight back from the lens. As the name would suggest, the depth is enabled via a mirror to bend the light and thus provides the opportunity for up to 10x optical zoom.
The Galaxy S20 Ultra smartphone, for example, has a periscope lens for its impressive optical zoom capabilities. Today’s report from ET News suggests that it might actually be Samsung that provides the tech for the iPhone deploying the periscope lens, if an arrangement can be made between the two companies.
The iPhone 12 continues Apple’s hot streak of substantial camera improvements, but optical zoom is one area where the range could make a big leap moving forward. However, squeezing in a periscope lens may require Apple to considerably re-jig the innards of the iPhone.