As news increasingly emerges about the next generation iPhone 7, it seems clear that the camera will be a major element of this smartphone. The latest leaks suggest that the consumer electronics giant will imbue the iPhone 7 range with significantly improved photographic capabilities. This is very much in line with previous rumors about the device, and thus should be of interest to all Apple fans.

According to Kevin Wang, the research director of analyst HIS Technology, when Apple releases its next generation handset later this year there will be a significant focus on upgrading the camera in the device. While the picture taking abilities of the previous iPhone devices has generally been considered to be adequate, the megapixel rating of the device has significantly fallen behind some of the obvious competitors to the iPhone.

iPhone 7 To Get Major Camera Upgrade

12-megapixel camera for iPhone 7

With this in mind, Wang suggests that Apple will improve the megapixel quotient in the iPhone 7 to 12-megapixels, which would represent a 50 percent increase from the previous iPhone generation. This would seem to be a natural development for the smartphone, and one that should be feasible by the likely October release date of this device.

The predictions made by Wang our very much in line with claims made earlier by Ming-Chi Kuo. The name of Kuo Will be well known to Apple fans in particular, and followers of the consumer electronics niche in general. Kuo suggested just a couple of weeks ago that the iPhone 7 will come armed with a 12-megapixel camera when it releases.

It is important to emphasize when talking about this news that analysts are referring to a smartphone that will be released during 2015. It is not yet certain that Apple will actually refer to this particular handset as the iPhone 7, as it is possible that the branding of the device will instead indicate that it is an update from the iPhone 6. If this is the case, we can reasonably expect the iPhone range to be released this year to be dubbed iPhone 6s and iPhone 6c, with the next generation iPhone 7 to follow next year.

If these latest analyst predictions turned out to be correct then the pixel count for the Apple flagship smartphone would move closer to its rivals, although it would still significantly lag behind some of them. For example, the Sony Xperia Z4 has a 20.7-megapixel camera, and every device in the Samsung Galaxy range has a superior snapper in megapixel terms to the 12-megapixel snapper which would seem to be on the cards for the iPhone 7.

Megapixels and picture quality

Of course, it is important to emphasize that the quality of pictures produced by a smartphone camera cannot be determined by merely megapixel rating alone. Although this is obviously an important indicator of the number of pixels that a smartphone is able to handle, there are several other factors which can contribute towards overall picture quality. Although Apple has been significantly behind is competitors in megapixel rating, this is not necessarily translated to poor overall performance, and the iPhone 6 was certainly considered a good performer in this department.

Aside from the megapixel rating, the quality of the lens included in the camera, coupled with the sophistication of the image-processing software utilized can make a massive difference to picture quality.

Apple has indeed traditionally refused to enter into an endless megapixel battle with its rivals, but those commenting on the next generation iPhone insist that Apple will have to swallow its pride and do so this time out. Although the iPhone 6 has done an excellent job of squeezing every drop of performance out of relatively modest camera hardware thanks to software innovations, continuing to tread water against much higher hardware specifications would seem to be an impossible job for Apple.

Thus, it seems increasingly likely that as there are two Apple iPhone ranges to be released in the coming years – with a next generation iPhone 7 possibly to follow a device to hit the stores later this year – camera upgrades are something straightforward that can be focused on in the short term.

iPhone 7 to feature smaller camera sensor?

However, it is also interesting to note that Wong suggests that the sensor in the iPhone 7 camera will be significantly smaller than in previous devices. This suggests that the smartphone will be able to capture less light than previous releases in the range, which would be surprising considering that low-light shooting is an aspect of smartphone cameras which is often criticized.

Apple will doubtless be aware of this eventuality, though, as obviously the last thing it wants to be accused of is producing a camera which is actually inferior to the previous generation of a smartphone. Low-light shooting is likely to be an area of comparison between the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy ranges, as both the flagship smartphones were criticized by some reviewers when they were assessed last year.

The physical size of sensors is generally considered to be crucial in producing high-quality images, so it will be interesting to see whether the iPhone 7 develops as analysts are projecting at this juncture.

While this latest iPhone 7 camera news is interesting, it contrasts slightly with some leaks which have emanated previously. It has been suggested by analysts earlier this year that Apple could release a professional standard dual-lens camera when the iPhone 7 is released. Additionally, a unique periscope design has been linked with the smartphone.

Whether either or both of these ideas are dead in the water remains to be seen, but it could be that Apple is in fact holding them back for an iPhone 7 released next year. It seems likely that we will see an iPhone range with a 12-megapixel camera being released this year, with a revolutionary photographic system held back until 2016, as Apple takes a long view of its flagship smartphone.