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Source: Apple shopping for LED camera flash components

post #1 of 76
Thread Starter 
Apple in recent months has moved to procure significant quantities of LED camera flash components that could help the iPhone maker's next-generation mobile handsets produce superior image and video captures in low-light situations, AppleInsider has learned.

The lack of camera flash technology has long stood as one of the iPhone's glaring omissions. Although the handset's existing 3.2 megapixel camera produces surprisingly sharp and vibrant images when employed in sun-drenched scenes and aptly lit venues, its lack of flash often leads to disappointing, dark and grainy photographs in more dimly-lit scenarios.

In making the jump to the iPhone 3GS last spring, the Cupertino-based company was content in focusing on enhancements to the overall user experience of its mobile phone to maintain its high level of satisfaction amongst consumers. Improvements to the device's camera technology were limited to an updated image sensor capable of capturing 1.1 more megapixels, and software technology to improve the quality of motion photos and those taken in poor lighting.

Despite these changes, clarity in photos taken indoors and at nighttime continue to elude users, often leading to frustrating results or images that are completely blacked out. A move by Apple to build flash technology into future versions of the iPhone makes more sense now than ever, especially given the increasing popularity of the device as an impulse point-and-shoot camera, as well as rising competition from rival handset makers who count camera flash technology on their handsets as an advantage over the iPhone.

For example, Palm's Pre, Motorola's Droid and Google's new Nexus One -- seen by some industry watchers as contenders that could combine to potentially disrupt the iPhone's staggering growth -- each ship with LED flash technology. And in the case of the the latter two, both include image sensors suited for capturing 5-megapixels compared to the 3.2-megapixel sensor on the iPhone 3GS.

People familiar with Apple's initiative claim the electronics maker is seeking allotments of LED camera flash components in the tens of millions for delivery during the 2010 calendar year, meaning future iPhones -- and possibly the iPod touch -- are the most likely recipients of those parts, due to their sales volume. Those same people say that Philips' Lumileds Lighting sector is believed to be the front-runner for Apple's business and may have already secured the design win.

The Amsterdam-based firm is well-regarded for its LUXEON LED camera flash technology, which was the first to combine the brightness of regular lighting with the long life and small footprint of LEDs. The technology is commonly coupled with 5+ megapixel cameras and has seen shipments of over 200 million units worldwide.



A move by Apple towards the LUXEON components would also appear to jibe with rumors that the iPhone maker has placed orders with OmniVision, its current supplier of CMOS image sensors, for as many as 45 million 5-megapixel parts for the next-generation of the handset due by late spring . The company is also likely to leverage the iPhone's ambient light sensor, in addition to providing a software switch, to ensure that the LED flash won't interfere in photos where it isn't needed.

Low power consumption, drive circuitry that demands little real estate, and a lack of significant electromagnetic interference (EMI) generation are a few of the advantages that have helped push the use of an LED flash in camera phones. And since the same LED flash can also be operated as a continuous light source, it would be suitable for proving light to enhance iPhone video recordings* as well -- not to mention closing the book on the numerous, dinky iPhone flashlight apps proliferating the App Store.
post #2 of 76
Ah, now we're getting somewhere with the 4th-G iPhone! Bring it on...... and give us a preview at the Jan 26/27 event, Steve!
post #3 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

not to mention closing the book on the numerous iPhone flashlight apps proliferating the App Store.

At least we'll still have our fart apps.

Until Apple comes out with hardware-assisted fart circuitry.
post #4 of 76

Oh boy...
post #5 of 76
Of all the things that "Droid Does" The only thing i wish my iPhone did was have a flash with the camera. Well I guess I would also like IM+ to be included in the standard built in apps as well, but really that's about it. The iPhone is just about perfect
post #6 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple in recent months has moved to procure significant quantities of LED camera flash components ...

I know it's unlikely, but who here doesn't also hope that it's the Apple logo on the back of the phone that becomes the light source?
post #7 of 76
"Where does he get those wonderful toys?" - Joker in Batman
The danger is that we sleepwalk into a world where cabals of corporations control not only the mainstream devices and the software on them, but also the entire ecosystem of online services around...
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The danger is that we sleepwalk into a world where cabals of corporations control not only the mainstream devices and the software on them, but also the entire ecosystem of online services around...
Reply
post #8 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Buck View Post


Oh boy...

I wonder how truthful this comparison shot is... I do know that the Droid flash is not all that effective when shooting things that are more than a few feet away.
post #9 of 76
LED flash is one of I hope several advancements for this years model. To be honest, the hardware is getting a little stale. Same essential hardware design for the last three years, same screen size, same resolution. Apple needs to catch up from some minor software and hardware perspectives.
post #10 of 76
iPhone 4G:
Hardware improvements:
New Design... please its getting old and boring...
Screen with much higher resolution. I personally don't want OLED because of bad performance in sunlight, something you don't want on a phone, but wouldn't care with a PMP.
I would also like a slightly bigger screen with 16:9 aspect ratio, but nothing really important.
Better camera with higher resolution and 720p video.
LED Flash!
Cortex ARM9 chip, with 1GHz or higher clock speed.... (something that works well with a good battery life.. Apple can figure it out..)

Software:
Multitasking!!
Some sort of addition that makes alarm clock apps work without leaving them on all night! (self launching apps. Obviously this is tricky because of virus problems..)
Slightly newer UI, which works with multitasking..
contacts etc synching with gmail, facebook, etc, something like WebOS.
built in voice typing... more voice commands.. but i don't want it to work like android, where it send voice to their server and gets results. I want the feature to work when offline..
Surprise me!
post #11 of 76
The iPhone 3GS has a 3.0 megapixel camera, right?
post #12 of 76
Exactly the kind of thing I want to hear. The two things keeping me from upgrading to an iPhone are the lack of a flash and the still small memory capacity. Add the luxeon flash and 64GB of storage and I'll happy upgrade when the new one comes.
post #13 of 76
Personally I have always been against using a flash in low-light for casual snapshots. I think it's rude and annoying to be in a warmly low-lit area and all of a sudden someone blasts off a strobing bright camera flash, over and over and over again. That's one person ruining the mood for the entire room. Not to mention, most of those pictures end up being ugly and unflattering pictures to look at.

My rule of thumb - if your camera isn't good enough to capture enough ambient light then don't take the photo - end of story. Rooms are dimly lit for a reason - intimacy, mood, privacy, mystery, calmness. Why ruin that for a few harshly-lit ugly snapshots?
post #14 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Postulant View Post

The iPhone 3GS has a 3.0 megapixel camera, right?

According to their website.......yes.
post #15 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by c4rlob View Post

Rooms are dimly lit for a reason - intimacy, mood, privacy, mystery, calmness. Why ruin that for a few harshly-lit ugly snapshots?

Because it's human nature.
post #16 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by naman34 View Post

iPhone 4G:
Hardware improvements:
New Design... please its getting old and boring...
Screen with much higher resolution. I personally don't want OLED because of bad performance in sunlight, something you don't want on a phone, but wouldn't care with a PMP.
I would also like a slightly bigger screen with 16:9 aspect ratio, but nothing really important.
Better camera with higher resolution and 720p video.
LED Flash!
Cortex ARM9 chip, with 1GHz or higher clock speed.... (something that works well with a good battery life.. Apple can figure it out..)

Software:
Multitasking!!
Some sort of addition that makes alarm clock apps work without leaving them on all night! (self launching apps. Obviously this is tricky because of virus problems..)
Slightly newer UI, which works with multitasking..
contacts etc synching with gmail, facebook, etc, something like WebOS.
built in voice typing... more voice commands.. but i don't want it to work like android, where it send voice to their server and gets results. I want the feature to work when offline..
Surprise me!

And with all that you want the iPhone to be very thin, right? Hmmm I wish Apple did magic.
Apple had me at scrolling
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Apple had me at scrolling
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post #17 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by BenRoethig View Post

Exactly the kind of thing I want to hear. The two things keeping me from upgrading to an iPhone are the lack of a flash and the still small memory capacity. Add the luxeon flash and 64GB of storage and I'll happy upgrade when the new one comes.

your current cell phone has more than 32GB internal memory?
post #18 of 76
Man alive it is about time. My Blackberry has had an awesome flash for a few years now. The battery life isn't that great and the photos it takes aren't either but at least it has a camera flash.

I suppose they'll up the megapixels for the camera too or maybe hold out for the 5th gen.
post #19 of 76
I keep reading that you guys want a new hardware design... like what? There's a reason Motorola, RIM, Palm, and HTC keep putting out phones with the same shape and similar looks as the iPhone; it works well in the hand.

Honestly, I don't see where else there is to go.
post #20 of 76
I would have hoped Apple would have been further along on the next gen iPhone by now.
post #21 of 76
Nobody needs a flash on the iPhone. Anybody who wants a flash is a whiner.

Apple will not make a video iPod. Nobody wants to watch video on an iPod. Anybody who wants a video iPod is a whiner.

Apple should not allow third parties to create native iPhone applications. Nobody needs third party applications on the iPhone. Web apps are really SWEET. Anybody who wants native third party iPhone applications is a whiner.

Apple will not add copy and paste to the iPhone. Nobody needs copy and paste on the iPhone. Anybody who wants copy and paste is a whiner.

Apple will not add GPS to the iPhone. Nobody needs GPS on the iPhone. Anybody who wants GPS is a whiner.

Apple will never switch to Intel processors.
post #22 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by iVlad View Post

And with all that you want the iPhone to be very thin, right? Hmmm I wish Apple did magic.

You mean like the Apple defenders who mindlessly defended the difficulty of taking apart past Apple laptops, claiming that it is impossible to make a thin laptop that is also easy to service. The unibody MacBook Pro must be magic because it is stronger and thinner than the original MacBook Pro, yet easier to service.
post #23 of 76
You wrote: "appear to jive with rumors...".

I think you mean "jibe with rumors". JIBE means agree with. JIVE is a type of music or talk.
post #24 of 76
Apple ruined Safari with their copy-paste implementation. Pages are no more scrollable. Now that's me being a whiner.

We mean Apple no harm.

People are lovers, basically. -- Engadget livebloggers at the iPad mini event.

Reply

We mean Apple no harm.

People are lovers, basically. -- Engadget livebloggers at the iPad mini event.

Reply
post #25 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by naman34 View Post

iPhone 4G:
Hardware improvements:
New Design... please its getting old and boring...
Screen with much higher resolution. I personally don't want OLED because of bad performance in sunlight, something you don't want on a phone, but wouldn't care with a PMP.
I would also like a slightly bigger screen with 16:9 aspect ratio, but nothing really important.
Better camera with higher resolution and 720p video.
LED Flash!
Cortex ARM9 chip, with 1GHz or higher clock speed.... (something that works well with a good battery life.. Apple can figure it out..)

Software:
Multitasking!!
Some sort of addition that makes alarm clock apps work without leaving them on all night! (self launching apps. Obviously this is tricky because of virus problems..)
Slightly newer UI, which works with multitasking..
contacts etc synching with gmail, facebook, etc, something like WebOS.
built in voice typing... more voice commands.. but i don't want it to work like android, where it send voice to their server and gets results. I want the feature to work when offline..
Surprise me!

It is about time Apple improved on the camera. Instead of CMOS, they need to go with CCD and larger sensors... more important than just measuring MPixel. For decent pictures, the camera needs a Zeiss quality glass lenses. Optical zoom would be nice, but space is a limitation. These kinds of upgrades would be category killers for the causual camera/camcorder.

Along with multitasking, we need the capability to have latent apps like Skype than will ring the phone for a VoIP call. The competition - Google - is implementing this feature, so Apple better keep up. About time we had folders.

Apple underestimated the competition... now they are catching up and fast... especially with the hardware. That is one big mistake businesses make.
post #26 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

I know it's unlikely, but who here doesn't also hope that it's the Apple logo on the back of the phone that becomes the light source?

I would love it !
"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity." - Albert Einstein
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"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity." - Albert Einstein
Reply
post #27 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Postulant View Post

The iPhone 3GS has a 3.0 megapixel camera, right?

I think it actually is 3.2 MP.
"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity." - Albert Einstein
Reply
"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity." - Albert Einstein
Reply
post #28 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by BenRoethig View Post

The two things keeping me from upgrading to an iPhone are the lack of a flash and the still small memory capacity.

So far I think the iPhone is one of the smartphones out there with the most storage...
"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity." - Albert Einstein
Reply
"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity." - Albert Einstein
Reply
post #29 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTel View Post

My Blackberry has had an awesome flash for a few years now. The battery life isn't that great and the photos it takes aren't either but at least it has a camera flash.

What is the point in having a great flash when the pictures are poor ?
"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity." - Albert Einstein
Reply
"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity." - Albert Einstein
Reply
post #30 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by cliphord View Post

I keep reading that you guys want a new hardware design... like what? There's a reason Motorola, RIM, Palm, and HTC keep putting out phones with the same shape and similar looks as the iPhone; it works well in the hand.

Honestly, I don't see where else there is to go.

alu and some colours would be cool
"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity." - Albert Einstein
Reply
"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity." - Albert Einstein
Reply
post #31 of 76
Quote:
A move by Apple towards the LUXEON components would also appear to jive with rumors that the iPhone maker...

jive
verb informal
1 [ intrans. ] perform the jive or a similar dance to popular music : people were jiving in the aisles.
2 [ trans. ] informal taunt or sneer at : Willy kept jiving him until Jimmy left.

perhaps you meant:

jibe
verb [ intrans. ] informal
be in accord; agree : the verdict does not jibe with the medical evidence.
ORIGIN early 19th cent.: of unknown origin.
post #32 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTel View Post

Man alive it is about time. My Blackberry has had an awesome flash for a few years now. ...

This is not exactly true.

The very first Blackberry to even get a camera was the Pearl 8100, which also had a flash, but it was a tiny camera with a tiny almost useless flash. That hardly qualifies as "awesome" and given that this was September 06, it also only barely makes it under the "few years" bar.

Your really exaggerating here a bit.
post #33 of 76
Let me guess...

The next iPhone revision will include a 5.0 MP camera with superior LED Flash...

This prognosticating is pretty easy!

Ten years ago, we had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash.  Today we have no Jobs, no Hope and no Cash.

Reply

Ten years ago, we had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash.  Today we have no Jobs, no Hope and no Cash.

Reply
post #34 of 76
Good. Glad to hear the iPhone 4 is going to be the kick in the nuts Droid, Google phone and palm have had coming. Not to mention a flick on the gonad of Nokia.

The 'me too' phones have had their day in the sun. iPhone 4 will be the model I buy. I've been holding off. ie multi-carrier, cheaper prices, better camera/flash etc. Now it's all coming together, I'll buy this June/July.

By then it'll be worth £400.

Lemon Bon Bon.

You know, for a company that specializes in the video-graphics market, you'd think that they would offer top-of-the-line GPUs...

 

WITH THE NEW MAC PRO THEY FINALLY DID!  (But you bend over for it.)

Reply

You know, for a company that specializes in the video-graphics market, you'd think that they would offer top-of-the-line GPUs...

 

WITH THE NEW MAC PRO THEY FINALLY DID!  (But you bend over for it.)

Reply
post #35 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleStud View Post

your current cell phone has more than 32GB internal memory?

(I'm not original poster but...) I'm waiting because I want to ditch my iPod 5G and my music collection won't fit in 32GB.
post #36 of 76
Disappointing.

Just more unnecessary crap; more stuff to drain battery; more stuff to break.
Prefer better lens; better sensor, better resolution.
If I want my pictures to look like they are taken in light, I will take them in light.
If I take them in the dark, I want them to look like they were taken in the dark.
What's there, is there.
post #37 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by c4rlob View Post

...My rule of thumb - if your camera isn't good enough to capture enough ambient light then don't take the photo - end of story. Rooms are dimly lit for a reason - intimacy, mood, privacy, mystery, calmness. Why ruin that for a few harshly-lit ugly snapshots?

What about fill-flash, where the background is bright, but the person is in shade or because the camera is using an average exposure that's too dark for people's faces outside...would that be acceptable use of a flash? Also, even in some situations where the light is not that dark to our eyes, it's not bright enough for the tiny lens in a cell phone.
post #38 of 76
Oh no, my phone isn't a camera! Damn you APPLE!!!!

The picture with the flash still looks like garbage. sure now you can see detail but the color is atrocious. I'm all for having a camera in a phone for convenience but people really need to keep it in perspective. It's a camera, in a phone. Not a camera. No matter what Apple does it will never be as good as a dedicated unit. Nothing they do can change the fact that the lens is a piece of plastic garbage, that it shoots at f/8 most of the time (because f/11 is the only other f stop), depth of field is always deep and uncontrollable, the lens is always at a fixed focal length and the shutter can only operate between 1/15th and 1/60th of a second. For Pete's sake, for about $100 you can get a camera that is leaps and bounds better than the iphone.

That said I would like to see a 5MP camera but an LED flash sounds like garbage. That's the reason for the color shift in the 2nd shot. LED's don't "burn" at the correct temp and do not provide the intensity needed to create proper contrast/ saturation. Might as well just bust out an LED flashlight and shoot it into the ceiling if that's all the light you need. It'll probably work better and provide more light.

If anything Apple should think about making the camera faster. faster App launch, faster picture taking, faster download from chip to camera. Maybe capture 2 or 3 frames in memory before writing to the card. Apple may want to consider putting a 720p capable chip in the phone to compete with the flip.

BTW AjitMD: Why exactly is it "about time" Apple improved the camera? I love your attitude. Apple doesn't understand the competition? I'm afraid you're the one who does not understand. Let me ask... Have you enjoyed taking 10 MP images on your Nokia? Does the droid come with a 12x optical zoom lens? No wait, Palm has just released a sports phone that captures little Billy's soccer game in 32 frames bursts at 12 FPS for 10 MP images. You''ll never miss any of the action...

First of all...

CMOS is a generally a better chip (power and rendering) CCD is old tech and as far as large sensor (?) are you kidding? How would you expect Apple to cram a bigger chip into a phone while also compensating for a huge power draw? Maybe we need brick sized battery adapters as well. I have $5k cameras that still only have a 1/3rd" chips in them. Zeiss glass? If you think a lens the size or an eraser head will take better pictures because it's made out of Zeiss glass you're an idiot. Not to mention a zoom lens? What is the point of 2x zoom? That's all you will ever get if they can even fit that in there. Just take 2 steps forward. I suppose you'd like a giant 80-200mm f/2.8 lens on the iphone as well.

You are very typical of a person talking about things they have no knowledge of. You are arrogant to say the least Just another consumer begging for features they don't understand. Buy a CAMERA and don't try using it to make phone calls.
turtles all the way up and turtles all the way down... infinite context means infinite possibility
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turtles all the way up and turtles all the way down... infinite context means infinite possibility
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post #39 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by c4rlob View Post

...most of those pictures end up being ugly and unflattering pictures to look at. ...

I'm not a big flash user either.

Can anyone say how well the lenses on those phones stack up?

A more sensitive chip is all very well, but - leaving cost aside - a better lens will make a better difference to the picture quality (as well as reduce the need for flash).
post #40 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by ivan.rnn01 View Post

Apple ruined Safari with their copy-paste implementation. Pages are no more scrollable. Now that's me being a whiner.

How is it not scrollable?
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