Apple has called the iPhone “the world’s most popular camera,” a title originally made by aggregating all iPhones together for counting functions. But while the exact sales numbers for each iPhone model are tough to measure, there’s no question that Apple has currently sold over 750 million iPhones, and well over 100 million iPhone 6 devices. Those are huge numbers, and well beyond the normal sales of individual point-and-shoot video cameras.

Few people appreciate that growing iPhone demand has produced an uncommon obstacle for Apple: dependably sourcing the tens of millions of parts required to fulfill very first month demand for tens of countless iPhones. To that end, Apple’s electronic camera maker Sony had to update its factory two times this year to produce more of the CMOS image sensors needed for smartphones including the iPhone. Even with a partner as big as Sony, nevertheless, iPhone-specific engineering requirements and the risk inherent in brand brand-new technologies have led Apple to hold off on utilizing the current and greatest video camera developments in its devices. Instead, iPhones choose thin, lower-resolution sensing units that offer fantastic total image quality for their size, and never eclipse competitors on raw specs.

So what can we reasonably expect from the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus cams next month? Right here are my informed guesses…

pink iPhone 6S

… If I was betting today, I would predict that the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus will sport 2-Megapixel front-facing (“FaceTime”) cams with approximately 13-Megapixel rear-facing (“iSight”) cameras. From the outdoors, they’ll look very much the very same as in 2013’s, however each camera will certainly be capable of taking clearer images, and providing good-looking digital zoom, than any previous iPhone. Neither camera will certainly have the raw specifications of Apple’s most innovative rivals, however as we have actually seen in prior iPhone generations, Apple will focus on speed, low-light performance, and color precision. Sadly, the front FaceTime video camera will certainly remain woefully behind the rear iSight electronic camera, a downer for fans of selfies. Right here’s why.

iPhones utilize really small sensing units. A 1″ ″ cam sensing unit is about the size of the nano-SIM card discovered inside many iPhones, however Apple’s rear video cameras make use of 1/3″ ″ sensing units that occupy around 25 % as much area. In a teardown in 2014, Chipworks noted that the iPhone 6 Plus’s 8-Megapixel rear cam module is 10.6 mm wide by 9.3 mm tall by 5.6 mm thick, with the sensor itself determining 5.97 mm by 4.71 mm. The 1.2-Megapixel front cam module ares smaller, measuring 6.2 mm large by 6.0 mm tall by 3.8 mm thick. These measurements provide rough limits for what can be anticipated in the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus; there isn’t a lot of living room in either device for larger parts.

Although there have been some small changes to the brand-new phones’ density and the footprints of their reasoning boards, the electronic cameras are unlikely to end up being significantly bigger or thicker this generation. To put things in perspective, Apple stepped up from a 1/3.2″ ″ sensor in the iPhone 5 to a 1/3.0 ″ sensor in the same-sized iPhone 5s, a change that needed just sub-millimeter dimensional modifications to the sensor. Any sensing unit size boost for the 6S would be of a comparable scale. Likewise, provided their extremely various sizes, it’s impractical to really hope that the iPhone 6S’s front video camera will certainly have the ability to match or perhaps approach the rear electronic camera, something I have actually observed readers recommending in current weeks. There’s just inadequate area inside the 6S for 2 modules of the very same size, nor does the leaked iPhone 6S front glass suggest the presence of a big new lens. Selfies will therefore remain (much) lower-resolution than photos taken with the rear video camera.

Small sensors limit Apple’s options for specifications.Sony makes at least 13 various video camera sensing units for mobile devices, however only three of them are the 1/3″ ″ size Apple makes use of for rear electronic cameras, with even less alternatives appropriate for the smaller sized front video camera. Although Apple does source custom variations of elements that aren’t on official parts lists, those customized parts are usually simpler, less expensive, or focused variations on existing parts, not radical change forward. Furthermore, Sony seems the unique electronic camera company for iPhones at this point. Apple is for that reason limited by both Sony’s current cutting-edge innovation at a provided sensing unit size, as well as Sony’s capability to make enough of those parts to meet growing iPhone need. (It’s worth keeping in mind that previous media reports regarding significant brand-new iPhone camera breakthroughs have consistently failed to rinse due to manufacturing factors to consider.)

The only sensors Sony openly notes at the 1/3″ ″ size right now have 13-Megapixel resolutions. Reports have actually suggested that Apple will certainly make use of something like Sony’s IMX278, which has an RGBW (RGB with white sub-pixel) color range for higher color precision and low-light level of sensitivity. Two older sensing units are likewise options: the IMX214 doesn’t have the white sub-pixel function, however supports single-frame, full-resolution HDR and HDR video, while the IMX135 is a lower-end design with lower-resolution HDR support and a lower frame rate. Any of these sensors would be an upgrade in resolution relative to the 8-Megapixel sensor currently in the iPhone 6, though it’s uncertain whether Apple will certainly include 4K video tape-recording support.

On the FaceTime side, Sony’s “really small sensor” alternatives are capped at around 2-Megapixel resolutions, without the RGBW feature. Based upon available hardware, the most likely improvements would be a jump to 1920×× 1080 still images, and complete HD video recording, perhaps with 60FPS video at 1080p and slo-mo video at lower resolutions. The video showcases line up with code discovered in iOS 9 several months ago. There’s no possibility that the front-facing video camera will have 4K video assistance, as the sensing unit won’t have adequate resolution to create such videos.


Remember the lens, flash, or OIS.Apple does make modifications to its lenses and flashes from generation to generation. Rumors have recommended that the rear iPhone 6S lens might get an increase to an f/1.8 aperture, more enhancing its low-light level of sensitivity, speed, and possible depth of field. Apple could upgrade the optical image stabilization on the iPhone 6S Plus with more impressive shake/bounce reduction than was discovered on the iPhone 6 Plus electronic camera. And it may improve the front lens, or leave it alone. Code found in iOS 9 suggested assistance for a front-mounted flash, which hasn’t yet been identified on leaked iPhone 6S parts, but could assist with selfies.

Apple always considers its next-generation devices, too.A minimum of where cam upgrades have actually been worried, Apple’s yearly upgrade strategy typically takes a small step forward, with space next year for another step, instead of taking a big step forward one year without any room to update the next year. The iPhone invested four years topped at an 8MP resolution, making little sensor and lens modifications each year to improve color accuracy, low-light performance, and speed. By the time the iPhone 6S comes out, Apple will currently be considerably through the advancement process for the iPhone 7 (and 7 Plus?), with a common sense of the sensing units, lenses, and flashes it wishes to make use of in the designs, in addition to how huge the devices will require to be to fit them. It would be tough to think of another rear video camera resolution jump next year, say to 21MP, but if Apple’s engineers made more living room for a bigger sensor, it could take place.

I’m personally really optimistic about exactly what we’ll see from the iPhone 6S electronic cameras. Despite the fact that Apple tends to make little electronic camera enhancements from year to year, resolution bumps for the iPhone’s front and rear cameras have actually been long past due, and this will likely be the year when both take welcome steps forward. As an electronic camera fan who uses the iPhone to shoot countless photos every year, I think that’s a significant validation to upgrade, and cannot wait to see how the iPhone 6S carries out in the field.

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Submitted under: AAPL Company, iOS Devices, Viewpoint Tagged: Cams, FaceTime, iPhone, iphone 6s, iphone 6s plus, iPhonography, ISight, photography

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