Noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is out with a new supply-chain report that indicates that the iPhone 13 Pro Max will have a slightly better main lens than the rest of this year’s lineup.
The report says that the wide-angle camera on the largest of the four models will have a marginally wider aperture than the iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13, and iPhone 13 Pro …
The wide-angle lens being made for the iPhone 13 Pro Max is said to have an f/1.5 aperture, which is slightly wider than the f/1.6 one on the current iPhone 12 line-up. The other models will, he says, stick to the f/1.6 version.
Sunny Optical is expected to pass the quality verification of iPhone 13’s 7P wide-angle lens and receive an order. It is expected to ship in 2Q21.
Benefiting from Sunny Optical’s production capacity and the advantages of Apple’s own lens design, we expect Sunny Optical will successfully pass the quality verification of iPhone 13’s 7P wide-angle lens order in the near future.
Since the iPhone 13 mini, 13 and 13 Pro share the same f1.6 7P wide-angle lens (vs. 13 Pro Max’s f1.5 7P wide-angle lens), Sunny Optical’s order is the most in demand item. We estimate that Sunny Optical will ship the iPhone 13’s 7P wide-angle lens to LG Innotek as soon as May.
Although a wider aperture allows in more light, so improves low-light performance and allows shallower depth of field, the difference between f/1.5 and f/1.6 is less than a quarter of a stop, so the real-world difference will be incredibly small.
That said, everything helps, and it continues the trend in iPhones and other smartphone cameras toward ever-wider apertures.
While the main (wide-angle) lens may be largely unchanged, Kuo has previously said that we can expect three improvements to the ultra-wide angle lens on the two Pro models.
First, he expects the aperture to be widened from f/2.4 to f/1.8. All other things being equal, that would let in more than twice as much light, significantly improving the low-light performance. In particular, it should allow for sharper and cleaner night shots.
Second, sources indicate that the number of elements in the lens will be increased from five to six. There are pros and cons to adding elements to a lens, but when a manufacturer takes an existing lens design and adds elements, this is generally done to reduce distortion, which is especially important in wide-angle lenses.
Finally, he expect the ultra-wide lens to get auto-focus for the first time. The current ultra-wide lens is fixed-focus. This might sound surprising, but isn’t generally a huge issue in very wide-angle lenses as they are mostly used for landscapes and cityscapes, where everything in shot is far enough away to be in focus. However, switching to auto-focus will be useful for closer wide-angle shots.
A recent Digitimes report also suggested that the ultrawide lens would get sensor-shift OIS (optical image stabilization), which tends to be more effective than lens-shift OIS as the sensor is lighter and can be moved more rapidly to counteract camera shake. Sensor-shift OIS is currently limited to the main lens on the iPhone 12 Pro Max.