While this year’s standard iPhone model isn’t expected to add any new camera lenses, it might be getting an unusual design change in terms of exactly where those lenses are going to be.
A set of schematics obtained by MySmartPrice and shared by 9to5Mac reveal that Apple could be planning to lay out the “iPhone 13” cameras diagonally, rather than stacked vertically as they have been in the past.
In fact, ever since the iPhone 7 Plus debuted the first dual-lens camera system, the optical sensors have been placed side-by-side. The traditional iPhone Plus models put them horizontally, while the iPhone X changed to the vertical placement, and the iPhone 11 put them into a larger square bump. However, relative layout of the actual lenses has remained the same over the past four years.
It seems that could be about to change with this year’s iPhone. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, a new set of renders based on these “iPhone 13” schematics shows the lenses arranged diagonally in the very top-left and bottom-right corners of the square camera module.
In this configuration, the LED flash moves to the top-right corner — basically the exact spot where it’s currently found on the iPhone 12 Pro — while the hole for the microphone goes down to the bottom-left corner.
What’s conspicuously missing from these renders is the LiDAR scanner that’s reportedly expanding to the entire iPhone lineup this year. MySmartPrice suggests that those reports were simply incorrect and that Apple wants to keep its augmented reality and advanced camera features exclusive to its Pro models for another year.
The renders otherwise line up with other reports we’ve heard about this year’s iPhone lineup, including that it will mostly follow in the design footsteps of the iPhone 12 while gaining a smaller front notch as well.
Although MySmartPrice has offered up accurate renders of Apple products in the past, as 9to5Mac notes, these have come from the well-known OnLeaks. These latest iPhone renders, however, are attributed only to “industry sources,” so it’s hard to judge their veracity.
Why Make This Change?
The report doesn’t mention the reason for this new layout, but it’s fair to say that it’s not likely to simply be a change for the sake of change.
There’s usually a method to Apple’s madness, so the most likely explanation would be that some new camera upgrade or feature makes it necessary to move the lenses around.
Placing the two lenses diagonally would increase the distance between them, which could allow more room for larger sensors underneath, or perhaps even power new augmented reality and photography features that rely on a greater depth of field.
It’s also worth noting that the iPhone Pro models already use a different layout for lenses than the standard iPhones. While all of them have the main wide-angle lens in the bottom-left corner, the ultra-wide lens is in the top-left corner only on the iPhone 12. With the iPhone 12 Pro, the telephoto lens gets that spot, while the one sitting over to the right is the ultra-wide.
So, a diagonal layout on the “iPhone 13” could actually bring the layout a bit closer to what’s already seen on the higher-end Pro. However, this would still result in a different placement since the spot traditionally occupied by the main wide-angle lens would have no camera in it at all.
It’s also entirely possible that this change has nothing to do with camera improvements. It could simply be due to Apple moving things around to make room for other design changes and technology improvements.