Rumor: 12MP camera in Apple's 'iPhone 6s' will pack in smaller pixels

Posted:
in iPhone edited May 2015
With numerous reports reaffirming that Apple's next-generation iPhone will feature a higher-quality 12-megapixel camera, one analyst has chimed to claim that the company will achieve this through smaller pixels in the images it captures.




Posting to his Sina Weibo account, IHS China Chief Executive Kevin Wong said that his sources are confident that the so-called "iPhone 6s" will feature a 12-megapixel camera, but with smaller pixels. That would be an increase from the 8-megapixel camera found on the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus.

Switching to smaller pixels has both advantages and drawbacks, as noted by G for Games. For example, larger pixels result in better low-light images with less noise, but Apple could offset this by changing other factors, such as the size of the image sensor and other internal components.

Pixel sizes on the current flagship iPhone 6 lineup are 1.5 microns, which is identical to the pixels that are captured by the iPhone 5s camera. The camera on the iPhone 6 series is also the same 8-megapixel density as the iPhone 5s.




This week's claims from IHS join earlier claims, including from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, asserting that the "iPhone 6s" will include a 12-megapixel camera. Wong's post, however, is the first to claim Apple will adopt smaller pixels with higher density in images.

Apple achieved the thinness of the iPhone 6 lineup while maintaining camera quality by having the lens protrude from the back side of the handset, a somewhat controversial decision amongst tech enthusiasts. But the high quality of iPhone cameras has been a major selling point for Apple, as the company has recently pushed photos "Shot on iPhone 6" in a new advertising campaign.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member
    Thanks for at least putting a stop to the use of the phrase "well-connected analyst".
  • Reply 2 of 17
    larryalarrya Posts: 608member
    When has this ever not been the case in a cell phone? Very insightful!
  • Reply 3 of 17
    cjcampbellcjcampbell Posts: 115member

    Um, "smaller pixels." That is pretty much how camera manufacturers have always done it. Cameras with larger sensors generally have to be larger cameras -- with much larger lenses.

     

    And in other 'news,' internal combustion engines still burn gasoline.

  • Reply 4 of 17
    jkichlinejkichline Posts: 1,369member
    cjcampbell wrote: »
    And in other 'news,' internal combustion engines still burn gasoline.

    They could burn diesel, e-diesel, biodiesel, ethanol, methanol, natural gas, good clean propane...
  • Reply 5 of 17
    ralphmouthralphmouth Posts: 192member

    I don't think Apple would make the trade off for low light performance. They must have solved that problem through other methods.

  • Reply 6 of 17
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    ralphmouth wrote: »
    I don't think Apple would make the trade off for low light performance. They must have solved that problem through other methods.

    It isn't just low light performance that might suffer. Too benefit from those pixels small size you need higher optical quality. That is if the lens can't focus parts of the image down to pixel sized dimensions the pixels can end up wasted.

    As for the low light performance I say might above because there is so much research going into sensors these days that you really can't say for sure how sensitive the image detector will be on this years camera. At this moment in time I'm trusting apple to not have a regression in overall image quality but small pixels aren't encouraging.
  • Reply 7 of 17
    crhain88crhain88 Posts: 65member

    I'd prefer an optical zoom before higher mp

  • Reply 8 of 17
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,655member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by RalphMouth View Post

     

    I don't think Apple would make the trade off for low light performance. They must have solved that problem through other methods.




    Not unless they've found ways to violate the laws of physics.   And Apple doesn't make the sensor.   While sensors have gotten better over time, especially in terms of their low-light capability, the fact remains that when you have small photosites, they generate heat at high ISOs.    And heat causes noise.    At the same resolution, blow up an iPhone image and blow up an image from a decent DSLR and there are substantial differences in quality.   Some of this can be rectified in post-production (there's an exhibit in a NYC subway corridor of large size iPhone images that look pretty good, but they all carry a disclaimer that they've been post processed).

     

    If you look at Nikon's top-of-the-line DSLR, the D4s, the body of which sells for $6000 without a lens, it's only 16MP in a full-size FX sensor whereas their bottom of the line D3200 is 24MP in a smaller DX sensor.  

     

    I would hope that you're correct in that Apple decides not to make the trade-off.   But marketing concerns may overwhelm actual perceived image quality.    Idiot consumers think that more MP = a better image.    "My amp goes to 11" and all that.   Unfortunately, I don't think Apple will go for a larger sensor since they're so obsessed with size.   And the fact remains that most iPhone images are used to post to Facebook and other such sites and at those sizes, quality isn't an issue. 

  • Reply 9 of 17
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    wizard69 wrote: »
    At this moment in time I'm trusting apple to not have a regression in overall image quality but small pixels aren't encouraging.

    why on earth would you not trust apple to not regress? these guys know way more about digital cameras than you do, and they're way more passionate about it than you are (plus it's, like, their jobs). they're not going to just say "Oh, well. Eat it, suckers!"

    you can bank on it. every time. (and yet people are constantly looking for reasons to be "concerned" at the drop of a hat...)
  • Reply 10 of 17
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    zoetmb wrote: »
    Not unless they've found ways to violate the laws of physics.

    low-light and noise reduction are definitely an active problem space in software.

    I would hope that you're correct in that Apple decides not to make the trade-off.   But marketing concerns may overwhelm actual perceived image quality.    Idiot consumers think that more MP = a better image.

    can you cite some relevant historical behavior from apple that would support the notion that they'd reduce quality "because marketing"? this is especially bizarre considering Phil, their head of marketing, has stood on stage and declared that more MP != a better image. has said that. head of marketing.

    And the fact remains that most iPhone images are used to post to Facebook and other such sites and at those sizes, quality isn't an issue. 

    what on earth? did you miss the recent billboard-ads campaign, focusing on images shot via iPhone and printed on billboards? let that sink in -- apple is advocating quality to such a degree that they're marketing the fact that its images can be printed ON BILLBOARDS.
  • Reply 11 of 17
    mykemmykem Posts: 33member
    cjcampbell wrote: »
    Um, "smaller pixels." That is pretty much how camera manufacturers have always done it. Cameras with larger sensors generally have to be larger cameras -- with much larger lenses.

    And in other 'news,' internal combustion engines still burn gasoline.

    Apple actually went from 1.4µm pixel size in the iPhone 5 to 1.5µm in the 5s/6 with a slight increase in the size of the image sensor (from 1/3.2" to 1/3").

    I like to believe this rumour isn't true. The same analyst predicted last year that Apple was going to use a 13MP sensor in the iPhone 6. Apple ended using the same sensor as the 5s.
  • Reply 12 of 17
    roakeroake Posts: 818member
    cjcampbell wrote: »
    And in other 'news,' internal combustion engines still burn gasoline.

    Except for the ones that don't.
  • Reply 13 of 17
    sully54sully54 Posts: 108member
    Apple may have determined that the benefits of OIS cancel out the noise smaller pixels can cause in low light situations. On a regular camera, OIS can sometimes allow for a lower ISO and shutter speed to improve low light performance with minimal noise.
  • Reply 14 of 17
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 2,077member
    I wonder if the change is really to enable 4K video.
  • Reply 15 of 17
    bigpicsbigpics Posts: 1,397member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by CRHain88 View Post

     

    I'd prefer an optical zoom before higher mp




    And you think the size of the "bump" on the 6's camera isn't big enough...?? 



    Altho' how about this...



    ...Add a (non-space taking) "magmount" around the existing lens that would instantly grab and hold an Apple-made optical zoom (or wide angle or other specialty focal length) external accessory lens - with micromotors operated by native software on the phone's camera app - with zoom controls that would appear whenever the phone senses it's been mounted...

     

    ..granted, another spendy dongle to manage and keep track of - but only a minority would have a real use for it - and it'd add a whole new dimension for serious photographers without competing for real estate in Apple's ever thinner phones.  



    And only Apple could set up a device-specific ecosystem of retail partners and developers to garner enough support to make them photographic standards.  And sell enough to justify the development cost.  A nice little boost in "incremental revenue" and another "halo" product for the brand.



    [PS:  Altho' this would, of course, "Sherlock" the existing external lens companies.....]

  • Reply 16 of 17
    jp55jp55 Posts: 15member
    And you think the size of the "bump" on the 6's camera isn't big enough...?? 


    Altho' how about this...


    ...Add a (non-space taking) "magmount" around the existing lens that would instantly grab and hold an Apple-made optical zoom (or wide angle or other specialty focal length) external accessory lens - with micromotors operated by native software on the phone's camera app - with zoom controls that would appear whenever the phone senses it's been mounted...

    ..granted, another spendy dongle to manage and keep track of - but only a minority would have a real use for it - and it'd add a whole new dimension for serious photographers without competing for real estate in Apple's ever thinner phones.  


    And only Apple could set up a device-specific ecosystem of retail partners and developers to garner enough support to make them photographic standards.  And sell enough to justify the development cost.  A nice little boost in "incremental revenue" and another "halo" product for the brand.


    [PS:  Altho' this would, of course, "Sherlock" the existing external lens companies.....]
    [/quote]

    Apple has patented a bayonet lens attachment for iPhones - http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2014/03/apple-reveals-new-camera-lens-attachment-system-for-idevices.html
  • Reply 17 of 17
    netmagenetmage Posts: 314member
    Smaller pixels don't actually increase noise of the picture as a whole, but do generally improve the ability of NR algorithms to work effectively, and for a given lens system, will always increase resolution.
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