How Apple plans on supercharging the camera in the superthin iPhone 6

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Cramming something as complicated as a camera into a form factor as thin as that of a smartphone is difficult, and with smartphones getting thinner all the time, many smartphones — from Nokia’s PureView-equipped Lumia’s to Google’s Voltron-like Project Ara — are choosing better image quality over sleek form-factor by making their smartphone cameras protrude, at least a little bit.

Will Apple follow suit with the iPhone 6 if it means better image stabilization? Come on. That’s not their style. But the camera will be getting better.

According to a report from Weibo shared by ESM China analyst Sun Chang Xu, the iPhone 6 will use an electronic image stabilization system instead of an optical one, so that the lens of the camera will sit flush with the back of the device, which is expected to be about as thin as a current-generation iPod touch.

What’s the difference? An optical image stabilization system uses moving parts to reduce blur, where as an electronic one has to fake it in software. It’s not as good, but in a smartphone, moving parts need to be kept to a minimum.

Don’t think the iPhone 6 won’t get a better camera though. Following their recent trend of putting pixel size — not number — first, the iPhone 6’s camera will have pixels that are 1.75 um instead of the iPhone 5s’s 1.5 um. That should make them even better at slurping up light in dark conditions.

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About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his girlfriend and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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