A major device release such as the iPhone 7 is always going to garner a significant amount of attention. But it has been noticeable with the media coverage of this forthcoming handset that there is a significant focus on the camera provisions included in the iPhone 7. Camera technology is becoming increasingly important in smartphones, and it seems that Apple is planning something out of the ordinary for its next-generation mobile later this year.

iPhone 7 Plus

iPhone 7 dual-camera setup mooted

It was reported a couple of months ago that Apple was working on a model of the iPhone 7 that featured dual rear-facing cameras. And a recent patent application published from the California-based consumer electronics company indicates that Apple is indeed toying with the concept. And based on the information that has been revealed, Apple will have some potentially exciting features available to it with such technology.

The first function that has been noted in this patent application is optical zoom. By fitting two separate camera modules behind the lens, and creating a single lens with both standard and telephoto sections, it becomes possible for the iPhone 7 to switch between the two differing focal lengths. For those people not acquainted with the technical parameters of photography, this effectively means that it is possible to catch a zoomed-in image without cropping pixels to reduce the image quality. This could have a huge influence on the iPhone series.

This would be exciting enough in itself, but other details from the patent application suggest that Apple is planning to go well beyond this with the iPhone 7. At least, the general assumption is that this technology is earmarked for that smartphone. It should be pointed out in mitigation that Apple applies for patents on a very regular basis, and that much of this technology never indeed reaches the public domain, or at least has yet to do so.

High-quality dual-shooting

But the information included in the patent will certainly get Apple fans’ tongues wagging. The patent also describes several different ways in which the device could simultaneously use both camera modules. According to this information, it will be possible for devices in the future to shoot photos and videos simultaneously via this dual-camera technique. Although this has been possible since the iPhone 5, the new technology will ensure that regular resolution will also be possible when carrying out this technique. Two cameras essentially ensures maximum resolution for both pictures and videos when dual-shooting.

In order to outline how this operates in practice, the patent application even goes into specific details. An example is provided which suggests that Apple’s iMovie could be utilized in the process of blending video and stills photography. The text from the patent application which outlines this potential features reads as follows:

“[Imagine] capturing a child extinguishing candles on a birthday cake…In some embodiments, second camera module 3084 can be used as a telephoto camera module to zoom in on the face of the child as she is about to blow out the candles and first camera module 3082 can capture a burst of high resolution still images of her smiling face. In some embodiments, first camera module 3082 is simultaneously capturing standard 1080p 30 frames per second video of the entire group of kids gathered and singing around the cake…As the two camera modules are synchronized in time, the still images can easily be automatically inserted at the right time in a final video stream.”

Not perhaps the most thrilling language that has ever been committed to paper(!), but certainly an interesting development in the portfolio of the iPhone 7.

Standard speed and slow-mo

In addition to this function, Apple also describes in the patent the process of simultaneously shooting standard speed and a slow-motion video. The dual-camera setup will enable Apple to combine the two video shooting speeds in the final output produced by the iPhone 7. Apple even believes that it will be possible to combine 4K video, 1080p video, slo-mo video and stills, with these significantly varying feeds later being combined in post-production editing.

In particular, the patent application outlines the possibility of capturing a ballgame with the iPhone 7, in which standard video could be utilized for a view of the entire field, but also capturing slow-motion footage of ball striking. This should certainly open up some enticing and exciting possibilities for iPhone 7 users, if indeed Apple does decide to include this technology in the next-generation handset. This is described thus:

“Some embodiments generate a synthetic result image at least in part from data of the first image and data of the second image. In some embodiments, the synthetic intermediate image has is generated by enhancing the first image using data from the second image. Some embodiments display the first image and the second image in a shared screen interface.”

This extremely legalistic language is hardly the type of text to get the pulse racing! But it does indicate that the iPhone 7 may indeed feature a very revolutionary camera setup. What is also clear is that the potential to move the lens and camera sensor will be possible. This had previously been utilized in the optical image stabilization included in the iPhone 6S Plus, and it seems that Apple intends to expand the functionality with the iPhone 7.

Apple acquisition

With regard to this possibility, it is notable that Apple has made acquisitions that are very much in line with the prospect. LinX, a company specializing in multi-lens mobile camera systems, was purchased by Apple last year, and it seems certain that the corporation intends to put this technology into practice sooner rather than later.

Aside from the camera tech, Apple is also expected to make the iPhone 7 both waterproof and dustproof, and expand the screen resolution of the device to quad HD for the phablet version and full HD for the smartphone. Wireless charging is another possible new feature, while other spec upgrades are also anticipated.


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