Apple’s iPhone 14 Lineup Is Getting All-New, ‘High-End’ Front Camera Systems
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This year’s iPhone lineup may finally include a nice upgrade to the selfie camera. A new report revealing that Apple has stepped up to a higher quality supplier adds weight to last month’s rumors of upcoming front camera improvements.
In April, the venerable Ming-Chi Kuo predicted the coming of autofocus and a wider aperture to the iPhone 14 TrueDepth camera system. Today, a report from Korea IT News seemingly corroborates this with news that Apple has stepped up to a better class of camera supplier, reclassifying the front cameras as “high-end” components.
For years, the iPhone front camera modules have been supplied by an unnamed Chinese manufacturer and Japan’s Sharp. At roughly one-third of the cost of the rear camera, the Chinese and Japanese-made components had been considered a low-cost part.
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However, this year Apple is going with LG Innotek to supply the front camera. This South Korean company has been providing high-end rear-facing cameras to Apple for a while but has recently increased its supply of front camera modules.
- These are said to be comparable in quality to the rear-facing versions.
- This also means Apple is now paying about three times more for the front camera system.
LG Innotek will supply about half of these modules, while Sharp in Japan will make up the other half. LG is expected to make trillions in sales from the iPhone 14 front camera modules alone.
According to the report, LG Innotek wasn’t expected to supply the new camera modules until next year’s “iPhone 15” lineup. However, Apple was unhappy with the quality of the components coming from its previous Chinese manufacturers, so it accelerated the timeline to move over to using LG’s components this year.
What’s Coming to the iPhone 14 Front Camera?
Korea IT News corroborates Kuo’s claim that the iPhone 14 TrueDepth camera will gain autofocus. This is one of the main features driving the price of the components up.
Kuo has also mentioned that the new camera would gain a wider f/1.9 aperture for better low-light performance and that the new camera will come to all four new iPhone 14 models, pro and non-pro alike.
If this comes to fruition, it will be the first time the iPhone’s front camera has gotten any upgrades since 2019 and the first time Apple has increased the front camera’s aperture in eight years.
Over the years, the iPhone’s selfie cameras haven’t even nearly kept pace with the rear cameras. As the primary cameras received year-over-year improvements, the front cameras generally went 2–3 years with few to no significant changes.
Although the TrueDepth camera delivered improvements like Portrait Mode and Animoji, the 2017 iPhone X still featured the same 7-megapixel (MP) sensor introduced with the iPhone 7 the year before. It wasn’t until the release of the iPhone 11 in 2019 that this was bumped to the current 12MP resolution.
However, even more significantly, the last time the front camera aperture was increased was in 2014, when the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus bumped that to f/2.2 — the same aperture used on today’s iPhone 13 Pro Max. The iPhone 5s and first-generation iPhone SE had an f/2.4 aperture. Apple has used at least an f/1.8 aperture on the primary rear camera since the iPhone 7 was released in 2016.
Of course, the iPhone 14 lineup is also expected to feature some pretty significant rear camera improvements this year too, with a 48MP sensor that’s rumored to be doing to at least iPhone 14 Pro models; it’s not yet clear whether the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Max will gain that larger sensor also, as Apple has started increase the camera gap between the pro and non-pro iPhones. However, it’s fair to say that the standard models will still see at least some camera improvements, even if they’re not as impressive as what the iPhone 14 Pro gets.
[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]