iPhone 12 Pro Max to feature key camera upgrades, but no periscope lens

iPhone 12 Pro Max to feature key camera upgrade, but no periscope lens
Apple iPhone 12 Pro concept render

The Apple iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max are two of the most highly anticipated smartphones of this year. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says Silicon Valley-based Apple is planning several upgrades for both devices, but one very important feature could still be a couple of years away.

Image stabilization could come to all cameras

In a research note with TF International Securities (via MacRumors) published earlier today, Kuo said the 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max would benefit from new sensor-shift image stabilization technology when it arrives later this year. This claim corroborates an earlier DigiTimes report dating back to December.

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Sensor-shift image stabilization hardware is fundamentally different from the optical image stabilization (OIS) tech Apple has relied on in recent years. Whereas the latter works by shifting around the lens to compensate for external movements, the former settles for moving the camera sensor.

The differences in image output quality are understood to be minimal, but sensor-shift image stabilization does come with one major advantage – it can be combined with any lens because it depends solely on the sensor.

That means Apple would finally be able to bring image stabilization to the ultra-wide-angle lens which, in turn, could enable Night Mode on the camera, something the Cupertino giant is reportedly working on at the moment.

The feature might not come to the smaller iPhone 12 Pro

Interestingly, Ming-Chi Kuo doesn’t believe Apple will adopt sensor-shift image stabilization on the smaller 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Pro. Instead, it could be delayed until the 2021 iPhone 13 Pro, although there is no clear reason for this yet.

The decision would mark a big departure from Apple’s current strategy, which sees both Pro-branded models treated equally in terms of features. Some could say it’s more reminiscent of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus era when the larger model gained access to an extra rear camera.

Fortunately, some improvements across both iPhone 12 Pro models are still expected. These include larger sensors capable of capturing more light and potential resolution upgrades that could benefit both Night Mode and zooming.

Don't expect a periscope camera on iPhone until 2022

Speaking of zoom, rival smartphone brands including Huawei and Samsung have adopted periscope cameras on their most recent devices. These enable 5x optical zoom (and reportedly 10x on the Huawei P40 Pro+ 5G) in addition to incredibly high levels of hybrid and digital zoom.

The iPhone 11 Pro, on the other hand, is limited to 2x optical zoom and 10x digital zoom. Several buyers and fans have called on Apple to replace its telephoto camera with a periscope implementation, but Ming-Chi Kuo doesn’t see this happening anytime soon.

The reputable analyst believes Apple is working in partnership with Taiwanese supplier Genius Electronic Optical to produce a custom periscope lens for iPhones. Unfortunately, it probably won’t be deployed until the 2022 iPhone 14 lineup.

And even then, Kuo suggests it could be limited to just one smartphone, likely the iPhone 14 Pro Max. On the bright side, the zoom upgrade in 2022 means the regular iPhone 14 may finally adopt a triple-camera system like the one present on the iPhone 11 Pro.

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