Apple supply partner Largan Precision said it will begin shipping 7P lens modules next year, according to a new report.
The 7P, or seven plastic lens array, will begin volume shipment next year, in addition to a 5P periscope lens module, Largan CEO Lin En-ping said, as reported by DigiTimes earlier this week.
The current iPhone X flagship relies on a 6P lens design. A bump to a 7P lens design would allow for improvements to various camera features, such as aperture performance. Periscope lens modules will also bump up optical zoom capabilities for handsets.
Even if the global smartphone market reaches “saturation,” Lin said that demand for smartphone lens modules will not decrease.
But the most interesting part of the story centers on triple-lens smartphones. DigiTimes notes that Huawei’s P20 Pro is “selling well,” which could spur other phone manufacturers to follow suit.
In fact, Lin indicated that he believes “more” smartphones will feature three or more lenses in 2019. He also said that “some” vendors will add periscope lens modules to their handsets that year — but added that the difficulty in of manufacturing those may snarl yield rates.
As the head of a major lens supplier, it’s worth venturing that he may be operating on some insider information that we aren’t aware of.
But even beyond Lin’s comments, there have been a handful of reports and analyst forecasts suggesting that Apple is developing a triple-lens smartphone for 2019. In addition to enhanced optical zoom, the three lens camera module could also upgrade the augmented reality capabilities of future iPhones.
A 7P module is an all-plastic lens stack, similar to the setup in the iPhone X. The fact that Largan is bumping up production of that lens module suggests that Apple and other OEMs won’t opt for hybrid plastic-glass lens designs.
While a 7P lens module isn’t directly related to a triple-lens camera setup, Apple may choose to use the design alongside a triple-lens setup in one or more devices next year.
Last year, renowned KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo cast doubt on rumors that Apple would switch to a 7P lens array in 2018. With Largan planning for mass production next year, its inclusion in 2019 Apple handsets seems more likely.