Apple Is Exploring Unique ‘Folded Cameras’ for Future iPhones

iPhone Fold Concept Credit: The Verifier
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Apple may improve camera technology in future iPhones using folded cameras, claims a report in Korea IT News. This periscope lens technology would improve the optical zoom feature, increasing it substantially with minimal increase in lens size.

Citing industry sources familiar with ‌iPhone‌ camera technology, Korea IT News claims that Apple is interested in improving its phones’ camera technology. The company reportedly is seeking a folded camera for that boost.

Apple has filed patents related to periscope lens technology but reportedly cannot develop its own folded cameras because rival Samsung holds several essential folded camera patents.

Samsung obtained those patents in 2019 when it acquired Israeli-based Corephotonics. Among all of its intellectual holdings, Corephotoinics has a patent covering a ball-type actuator that supposedly is critical to the development of a periscope lens.

As a result of these patent holdings, Samsung is one of only a few companies developing folded cameras and has used this technology in its Galaxy S20 Ultra. Unable to design its own folded camera, Apple may be seeking to purchase this camera technology directly from Samsung.

Some industry insiders believe such a deal is not likely to happen, though. Samsung may refuse to supply Apple with periscope cameras to keep a competitive advantage for its Galaxy line of smartphones.

A periscope lens would allow Apple to increase the optical zoom of its iPhone camera lens without increasing the size of the phone. The existing vertical-stacked lens that Apple currently uses can support a higher optical zoom, but the size increase would force Apple to make a thicker iPhone.

On the other hand, a periscope lens uses horizontal stacking to achieve a higher magnification in a module that doesn’t increase a device’s thickness.

Apple isn’t the only smartphone maker interested in the folded camera. Besides Samsung, cell phone maker Huawei also equipped its P30 Pro with a 5x optical zoom. This doubles the Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro Max, which tops the iPhone lineup with a 2.5x zoom.

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