Up Periscope! Apple receives patent for new telephoto system rumored to debut in 2022
According to reliable TF International analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple is rumored to include a periscope telephoto lens with at least one of the 2022 iPhone 14 models. Toward that end, the company was awarded a patent for some of the tech necessary to create the feature. With a periscope lens, which could be limited to the iPhone Pro Max 14 for its first appearance, Apple could offer 10x optical zoom or higher.
Patently Apple (via 9to5Mac) was first to post about a new patent awarded to Apple for a folded camera that could be used in situations where the company is limited by the space available. Apple's folded camera might be made up of a pair of prisms with a lens system between them. The latter "includes an aperture stop and lens elements with refractive power mounted in a lens barrel. The prisms and lens system may collectively be referred to as an optical system."
Oppo introduced the periscope camera at MWC in 2017, the first phone to sport such a system was Huawei's P30 Pro in 2019.Because a smartphone doesn't have the thickness required to accommodate the focal length to create a more powerful optical zoom, the lens needed for such a feature is housed vertically inside the smartphone body with a prism mirror system employed to extend the focal length. While
Image from Apple's newly awarded patent called
As mentioned earlier in this story, Apple's patent envisions the use of two prisms. The patent says, "The prisms provide a “folded” optical axis for the camera, for example to reduce the Z-height of the camera. The lens system includes a lens stack including one or more refractive lens elements mounted in a lens barrel, and an aperture stop located at or in front of a first lens element in the stack."
A photo sensor can also be found in the system along with an optional infrared filter. The technology delivers 3x optical zoom and high-resolution images. Apple was awarded U.S. patent number 11,061,213.