Apple granted periscope zoom camera patent for future iPhones

Apple has been granted a patent for a ‘folded camera’ or a periscope camera system that could allow the company to implement advanced optical zoom functionality in future iPhone models. Competitors like Samsung and Xiaomi already ship smartphones with periscope lens that offer 30x zoom and even higher.

iPhone camera periscope zoom lens patent

Apple’s ‘folder camera’ patent highlights the company’s plans to include a periscope zoom lens in future iPhones

In the small space that a smartphone’s camera system has, allowing for higher zoom levels requires some advanced engineering. Apple’s patent talks about a foldable camera that includes two prisms with a multi-lens system included in between them. This camera system can also include other elements such as a photosensor and an infrared filter, to allow for improved image capture.

Along with a high optical zoom range, this folded camera or periscope zoom camera system also allows for higher resolution image capture.

iPhone periscope zoom lens

Apple’s patent filing, as spotted by Patently Apple, explains the purpose of the folder camera system:

A folded camera that includes two light folding elements such as prisms and an independent lens system, located between the two prisms, which includes an aperture stop and a lens stack. The lens system may be moved on one or more axes independently of the prisms to provide autofocus and/or optical image stabilization for the camera. The shapes, materials, and arrangements of the refractive lens elements in the lens stack may be selected to capture high resolution, high quality images while providing a sufficiently long back focal length to accommodate the second prism.

It has been previously reported that Apple plans to include a periscope zoom lens to improve the telephoto camera system on future iPhone models. The company could include this lens in 2022 or 2023 iPhone models, as per analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. However, there is still some time and the company’s plans could change between now and then.

It is also expected that Apple will ship iPhone 13 Pro models with improved ultra-wide cameras with auto-focus. Current iPhone models feature fixed focus in ultra-wide lens.

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