This results in "sharp, low-distortion images." Using a curved array allows Apple to employ a small photosensor with tiny pixels. The axial size of the camera is 2mm or less. Although pictures can come out looking warped, Apple intends to come up with a software solution that would remedy this problem.
The patent was filed in 2013, and there is no reason to think that Apple would be willing to replace the Sony built imaging system it already uses. The Apple iPhone is usually considered to have one of the best smartphone cameras year-in, year-out. On the other hand, Apple has been looking for ways to make the iPhone thinner and add a higher capacity battery. The Apple iPhone 7 is expected to come sans 3.5mm earphone jack which could open up some space inside the device. There could come a time when Apple will need to use a smaller camera module on the iPhone.
Apple files patent for a smaller, high-resolution iPhone and iPad camera
source: USPTO via AppleInsider