iPhone could gain crazy optical zoom abilities in 2022

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iPhone-11-Pro-cameras
If you thought the iPhone 11 Pro camera was impressive, you ain't seen nothing yet!
Photo: Apple

The iPhone could get a special periscope camera lens in 2022, claims reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. This could offer significantly better optical zooms than are currently possible on an iPhone.

A periscope uses mirrors or a prism to bend light. It’s best known as the technique by which submarines see objects above the water level without having to surface to see them.

However, smartphone manufacturers are increasingly using the same idea to build special periscope modules to increase the range of optical camera zooms.

Periscope cameras for the iPhone

As PocketNow explains, current phones with periscope camera modules include the Huawei P30 Pro and Samsung’s Galaxy S20 Ultra. The Galaxy S20 Ultra claims an incredible 100X Space Zoom. (Although, as TechRadar put it in its review, “100x zoom snaps were hardly Instagram-worthy, [although] 30x zoom looked fine on a tripod.”)

By comparison, the current-generation iPhone 11 Pro lets users zoom from the Telephoto lens to the new Ultra Wide camera for what equates to a 4x optical zoom range.

Digital zoom allows you to zoom closer than the optical zoom with a zoom of up to 10x. But digital zoom is significantly worse than optical zoom when it comes to image quality. That’s because digital zoom uses software to magnify certain parts of the image — like zooming in using photo-editing software.

According to Wednesday’s note by TFI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple has secured companies to deliver its periscope lens. The big winner is likely to be Semco, which has won half of the orders.

Improved autofocus for the iPhone 12

While the periscope lens is a big attention-grabbing part of Kuo’s report, he also sheds some light on iPhone 12 details. Kuo suggests that the iPhone 12 will use Semco’s ball-based voice coil motor mechanism to improve autofocus for the next-gen handsets. He also says that Semco and Sunny Optical are joining Apple’s supply chain as makers of camera components.