Apple's 'iPhone 7 Plus' to sport dual-camera iSight array built on LinX imaging technology

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2016
Apple's next-generation, jumbo-size iPhone is expected to come in a dual-camera configuration -- with optical image stabilization and zoom -- achieved through technology procured from last year's LinX acquisition, according to well-connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.




In a note to released to investors on Wednesday, and subsequently obtained by AppleInsider, Kuo said he expects Apple to continue the trend started with iPhone 6 and launch two new models in 2016. With one catch. While the 4.7-inch "iPhone 7" will feature the usual iSight rear-facing shooter, the analyst believes Apple is prepping two 5.5-inch "iPhone 7 Plus" variants, one with a single imager and another sporting a dual-camera design for increased flexibility.

Apple was rumored to be working on a similar setup in 2014, but the mythical handset never made it to market. Apple was indeed looking to include the exotic tech in iPhone 6s, though early technological bottlenecks in compact camera module algorithms and assembly precluded its incorporation in a shipping product, Kuo said.

In the intervening months, Cupertino was able to apply tech gained from its 2015 purchase of LinX, an Israeli firm specializing in squeezing high-definition images out of relatively small multi-lens configurations.

For its first foray into dual-CCM imaging, Apple is expected to source hardware from longtime supplier Sony. Both of the iPhone 7 Plus' CCMs will be 12 megapixel compact image sensors (CIS), one supporting optical image stabilization and a wider field of view, while the other will come loaded for bear with a 2-3x telephoto lens. OIS was introduced as a differentiating iPhone 6 Plus feature in 2014, but optical zoom is an new territory for Cupertino. It's not clear if the single-camera iPhone 7 Plus will also boast optical zoom.

Kuo's description is nearly identical to an Apple patent application published in 2015, just one week after the LinX buy.

Apple's plans for software support are likewise unknown, but with two CCMs iPhone would be capable of switching between sensors depending on shooting conditions, stitching together image data from both modules for ultra high-resolution pictures or splitting the difference with a hybrid solution.

Like past cutting-edge iPhone advancements, the upcoming dual-camera system will likely be in short supply. To alleviate inevitable constraints as production ramps up, Kuo anticipates Apple to offer both single-camera and dual-camera versions. There has been no word on pricing, though it can be assumed that a top-end, two-lens configuration will be more costly than its "normal" stablemates.

Kuo estimates the dual-camera model will account for 25 to 35 percent of total iPhone 7 Plus shipments in 2016.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 33
    I sure hope that image is merely a rough render. What's better than a camera bump? Two camera bumps!
    pmzcornchip
  • Reply 2 of 33
    irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,603member
    Looks like a Minion!
    wonkothesane
  • Reply 3 of 33
    irnchriz said:
    Looks like a Minion!
    iMinion...or rather 2iMinion
    edited January 2016
  • Reply 4 of 33
    hope truly that he is mistaken. hope apple comes with the kind of camera in 4.7 iphone. do not like big clunky iphone
    cornchip
  • Reply 5 of 33
    irelandireland Posts: 17,751member
    irnchriz said:
    Looks like a Minion!
    WALL.E
    anton zuykov
  • Reply 6 of 33
    josujosu Posts: 217member
    In MacRumors you have a more pleasing rendering
    edited January 2016 irelandbdkennedy1002
  • Reply 7 of 33
    True HDR? Each cam simultaneously capture 2-3 brackets at opposing exposures for much richer, much deeper HDR. This would also give them the ability to do multiple captures at slightly varying focal lengths to enhance the live photo functionality to not only give some motion but also change the focal point of a pic.
    nolamacguy
  • Reply 8 of 33
    Sign me up!
  • Reply 9 of 33
    thebudda said:
    True HDR? Each cam simultaneously capture 2-3 brackets at opposing exposures for much richer, much deeper HDR. This would also give them the ability to do multiple captures at slightly varying focal lengths to enhance the live photo functionality to not only give some motion but also change the focal point of a pic.
    The other phone guys did this years back and tried to make 3D out of it. 
  • Reply 10 of 33
    Has Apple ever differentiated the two models this much? This seems like it would segment the camera experience in a significant way. This seems like a much bigger difference than image stabilization as hardware vs software.
    anton zuykov
  • Reply 11 of 33
    jason98jason98 Posts: 766member
    I sure hope that image is merely a rough render. What's better than a camera bump? Two camera bumps!
    At least it will not wobble anymore.
  • Reply 12 of 33
    Dual iSight cameras may be a response to the live streaming crowd such as Periscope. This is a whole new application for cell phones as they often are showing near then far images in the same stream. Doing this optically rather than digitally, would could secure Apple as the leader in this segment. GoPro is already making an adjustment to get into this new market.
  • Reply 13 of 33
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,526member
    stevnim said:
    Dual iSight cameras may be a response to the live streaming crowd such as Periscope. This is a whole new application for cell phones as they often are showing near then far images in the same stream. Doing this optically rather than digitally, would could secure Apple as the leader in this segment. GoPro is already making an adjustment to get into this new market.
    Interesting, if true.
  • Reply 14 of 33
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,526member

    thebudda said:
    True HDR? Each cam simultaneously capture 2-3 brackets at opposing exposures for much richer, much deeper HDR. This would also give them the ability to do multiple captures at slightly varying focal lengths to enhance the live photo functionality to not only give some motion but also change the focal point of a pic.
    The other phone guys did this years back and tried to make 3D out of it. 
    If this dual-camera setup could produce any meaningful parallax data for 3D, I'd be surprised. The earlier Android attempts you reference should be named and their lens spacing looked into. Also how they extracted depth information.
  • Reply 15 of 33
    Mr_GreyMr_Grey Posts: 118member
    I sure hope that image is merely a rough render. What's better than a camera bump? Two camera bumps!
    Like all images attached to articles of this type, the picture at the top was probably done in Photoshop or even Preview by the authors of the article and is for illustration purposes only.  Aesthetically, and possibly even functionally, I would expect a camera in each corner rather than two side by side.  
  • Reply 16 of 33
    Mr_GreyMr_Grey Posts: 118member
    My only response to this news is that I hope what 9to5Mac is saying about this is untrue.  They are specifically coming out and saying that Ming-Chi is predicting this technology for the iPhone 7+ only.  To me that would be a disaster, but I note that the interpretation on this site is only that they are currently working on two possible models. 

    If this tech only makes it into the iPhone 7+ and not the 7, a lot of folks will be upset.  There will be talk of "leaving Apple" and lots of anger etc. 
    edited January 2016
  • Reply 17 of 33
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,633member
    The whole camera on the phone phenomenon is really interesting. The idea of an always on, ready to fire camera in your pocket is quite appealing. And they take really great photos.

    But I can honestly say the one thing that frustrate me most is that getting that instant snapshot is practically always missed. I would find a lot of utility for a Apple Watch mounted snapshot camera. I think that takes a huge leap of tech, mostly to keep it aesthetically acceptable and within the batter power available.

  • Reply 18 of 33
    Has Apple ever differentiated the two models this much? This seems like it would segment the camera experience in a significant way. This seems like a much bigger difference than image stabilization as hardware vs software.
    By building in two lenses Apple would open up the iPhone to a multitude of ways software could use them. From the very first iPhone I've been amazed at how inventive developers have been in utilizing the iPhone's resources. Combining two lenses with Live Pictures could go somewhere also.
    flaneuricoco3
  • Reply 19 of 33
    icoco3icoco3 Posts: 1,468member
    Mr_Grey said:
    I sure hope that image is merely a rough render. What's better than a camera bump? Two camera bumps!
    Like all images attached to articles of this type, the picture at the top was probably done in Photoshop or even Preview by the authors of the article and is for illustration purposes only.  Aesthetically, and possibly even functionally, I would expect a camera in each corner rather than two side by side.  
    Technically, most photos are taken in landscape so the rendering in the photo would be vertically stacked cameras instead of side by side.
  • Reply 20 of 33
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member
    Has Apple ever differentiated the two models this much? This seems like it would segment the camera experience in a significant way. This seems like a much bigger difference than image stabilization as hardware vs software.
    Optical image stabilization is/was a differentiator, that's hardware: this would be similar...
    1983
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