Rumor: 4th Generation iPhone to Pack 5 Megapixel Camera?

iPhone Camera

Digitimes is reporting that OmniVision has received an order from Apple for 40-45 million CMOS sensors packing 5 megapixels, bound for next year's 4th generation iPhone. That's nearly double the unites -- and a huge increase in pixel count -- from the iPhone 3GS cameras OmniVision currently supplies.

As with all next-gen iPhone rumors, take this one with an iTablet-sized grain of salt, but it does make competitive sense for Apple to bump the camera next year, among other things (cough iPhone HD cough).

(Personally, I prefer lower pixel counts and higher sensor sizes; cutting them up so much results in bigger pictures, not better. Low light should be the arms race here, manufacturers.)

Of course, we'll never know for sure until WWDC 2010 when Steve Jobs (or Phil Schiller) hoists it up on stage.

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 38 comments. Add yours.

Connie says:

from Apple for 50-45 million CMOS sensors

Do you mean 45-50????
(Who writes like that??)

Dyvim says:

5MP camera would be an easy enough upgrade for them to do. Higher screen resolution - not so easy (due to the need for backwards compatibility + cross-platform compatibility of new apps)- although I hope they come up with some brilliantly simple solution to implement it. It's (past) time for a 720x480 iPhone...

KK says:

5MP camera. Who cares? I hope this isn't what they consider a MAJOR upgrade. What's next?

Macman says:

Do I smell a 3gs.1 coming ?

Ferrigno says:

@ KK : couldn't agree more...

tweger01 says:

5MP is so dumb; even on my expensive nikon I only take regular pictures at 2MP.

Invocil says:

I would much prefer at least 8 and of I am going to make do with 5 I hope there is at least an led or preferably xenon flash system. And I know more mega pixels doesn't mean better quality but my 8 mp omnia HD took better pics than my 5 mp nokia n95 and far far better pics than my 3gs

Rhit says:

Yes! Finally! One more way to deplete the battery! Thanks Apple! You're always one step ahead of what we want...

Blake0767 says:

Way too much complaining...like a bunch of little kids.

tys says:

That's too many! Seriously, even the big 30" cinema display is only 4.2 megapixels. I guess as long as I can set it lower in the preferences, like my regular camera, it's ok.

melwan says:

@Blake0767
amen to that

melwan says:

When Apple suppled 3mp camera, people cried they wanted 5mp. Almost every blog site complained that 5mp was past due. Now that it's "rumoured" Apple will supply 5mp, people are crying to stick with 3mp?
punch of idiots

ninjamattic says:

All I know is they need to hurry up and come out with a groundbreaking new model, so I can upgrade to a discounted 3gs... Lol.

JPSAL says:

Apple has taken the "easy upgrade" way: they could have packed this 5MP unit with the 3GS... Truth is, the iPhone will never be on par with the competition imaging-wise: the Satio has 12MP, the Droid has 5, the Omnia HD has 8...

Rhit says:

Folks just don't seem to get it. Apple can hold back on physical technology upgrades for the phone because none of its competitors can actually compete with the iPhone's software services(App Store). The iPhone sucks horribly in Japan b/c all other phones out there are far technologically superior. Here, the iPhone isn't technologically superior, either, but it does pack excellent apps - that's why people like it so damn much. App-appeal. "There's an app for that!"
Honestly, if it weren't for the App Store, the iPhone would be a hulking piece of crap. It has awful battery life, and the screen, voice quality, network, camera, push notifications, and so on all suck compared to the competition.
You iPhone-is-God folks are like ostriches with your heads in the ground, except they're up your asses.
All these apps and inferior tech upgrades don't mean anything when the battery dies shortly after you begin playing a game or browsing the web. I spend lots of time in airports for work travel, and I spent more time with my phone plugged in to the wall like laptop users than I do without it plugged in. The phone is great, really - if you've got a power outlet nearby.

redbeard says:

What a bunch of complaining babies...
The iphone needs a serious boost in picture quality, I'm sure it will get that along with more megapixel's, and the average person judge's a camera's capability by how many mp's it has, even though thre's much more than that too it that's just the way it is, Apple has to keep up with the competition. Imagine if in June 2010 the iphone 4G still used the original 2mp camera, it would get trashed, it's about marketing more than anything.

Invocil says:

So how exactly does an increases megapix sensor decrease battery life further? Longer processing times? I really do want to know this? And I agree with the apps etc but most good apps I pay for seperatly so when I am paying so much for the device in the first hand then I want it to be bleeding edge technology ie best processor, battery, build quality etc

Rob says:

No big deal. My N95 (a phone from 2007) has a 5MP sensor.
The main reason it takes better pics than the my 3Gs is down to the lens. If it has a crappy lens then even if its got 12MP sensor, the pics are still going to suck (just be much larger). Even my N95 with its "good lens" and tons of macros still takes inferior shots compared to a cheap real camera.
But, honestly, who buys an iPhone for the camera? It's not a "camera phone". It's a "phone, with a camera". It's there for snaps and a little video on the go, that its purpose. Flash would be nice though... im sure if they added one it would be integrated into the body and would be almost invisible until it lights up. Much like any front facing camera would be hidden under the flat front surface with the sensors.

Rob says:

Btw FWIW, is it not possible these sensors could actually be bound for the "iTablet"?

Savoyard says:

The Sony Ericsson XPERIA X2 will have an 8 MP camera, HTC devices have had 5 MP camera for 12 months or more. The iPhone is so advanced in many ways so why does it lag behind with a lower resolution camera?

piercedirish#IM says:

I trust that Steve Jobs knows what I need and will tell me what I don't. :/

Ghop says:

If it were not for the iPhone, these other products would not exist. Remember Apple said "think differently" and they came up with the iPhone.
Other companies have been playing catch up ever since. Arguably, some of these companies have caught up and even passed Apple in "some features." Why does it seem inconceivable, for most on here, that Apple can't say "Ok, our competition has/is catching, think differently again."
Apple has a proven track record of doing things better than we could think. Remember, the iPhone is more than a phone, it's a piece of an ecosystem that Apple provides. Most people do not have any idea what the Iphone can do when teamed up with an Apple computer, AirTunes, AppleTv, MobileMe and so forth. Something the competition can not compete in, not to mention the App store and Itunes.
I like you, agree Apple needs to pick up the pace, probably sooner than they anticipated. Where we differ, is I have no doubt they can provide the experience we/you/I are longing for.
Apple is to a degree at the top hill in this market. What makes you think they will not do what it takes to stay there?

Blake0767 says:

I'm agreeing with Rob on this one.
And for those that are complaining about battery life, you guys are like a marathon runner complaining that their shoes don't last as long when they are running. You guys are rediculous. Show me a device with the processing power of the iPhone, the same web-experience as the iPhone, and as many power hungry apps as the iPhone, that has a substantially longer battery life... Count every smartphone/mobile computing device out. Some of you guys make me laugh. Rhit do you get mad when your power bill goes up because YOU left the lights on.

Tom says:

Fix it so it doesn't drop calls. Have it so calls don't automatically go to vmail. The simple things.

Alex says:

That high number means that this phone must be so dramatically AWESOME that apple plans on selling 50 million worldwide, or maybe some of them are also for the tablet.

Rob says:

What about the current 'iSight' in iMacs & MacBooks? This sensor could be related to them and hence the large number since this would go over the entire range (including the iTablet?)...

SpiceRak2 says:

@Ghop: Well said.
@Alex: I don't understand the benefit of a camera on a tablet computer. How would that work? I'm just imagining holding up a big slab, directing others to "say cheese"...and looking like an idiot. In all seriousness, would a camera work on this rumored iTablet?

icebike says:

@spicerak2:
Think Front facing Camera. Video conferencing.

icebike says:

If this comes to pass....
It will be yet another of those things dismissed as totally un-necessary on the iPhone, which, upon their arrival are suddenly transformed into a brilliant masterstroke of Steve Jobs.
There are 20 examples of this posted here:http://www.strandreports.com/sw4031.asp

Rhit says:

@Blake767:
Thanks for your futile input; it made me chuckle - but only mildly. When you buy a Ferrari with a quarter gallon gas tank, let me know how much you enjoy the full Ferrari experience. Same goes for the iPhone, more or less.
Your fanboi comment essentially says, "the iPhone has all these awesome features! It does all these crazy things like no other phone can! But pick wisely what you wish to do, as you won't be able to experience them all."
As for the lights in the house comment, perhaps you should turn the light on in your own head before you post another piece of garbage.

Rhit says:

And, as for the tablet, it'll be the item to use in the Mac chain, which goes something like iPhone, TABLET, Macbook Air, MacbookPro, Mac Mini / AppleTV, MacPro. So, in other words, it'll be the peripheral to link your iPhone to your netbook, before you link your netbook to your laptop, which would then be linked to your personal computer before linking to your professional work computer.

Al says:

They NEED to bump the resolution (and I hope size as well). Platform unity is great and the screen was unprecedented in 2007 but we are ready for an HD2-esque screen!!

Blake0767 says:

@Rhit
I agree that the iPhone could stand to do a little more and if you understood the marathon analogy you would have picked up on that. The fanboy comment is a little overused and frankly a little out of date. Much like the word "frankly". Your Ferrari analogy makes me think you're the fanboy because now you're comparing the iPhone to a Ferrari. Which by the way was an empty attempt to one up me in the analogy department.
My point, other than to rid the world of the word 'futile' (No thanks to Rhit), is that people complain about the battery life, yet there isn't a similar phone on the market that completely outshines the iPhone in battery life....think about it...and please world, take "futile" out of your vocabulary. It doesn't make you sound as smart as you think.

SpiceRak2 says:

@icebike:
Gotcha. I just didn't think that way. Thanks.

Ghop says:

@icebike,
That article is lame......

Rhit says:

@Blake
I fully understood your marathon analogy. It wasn't witty.
Your point regarding use of the word "futile" is worthless.
Your point regarding my Ferrari anaolgy is, not surprisingly, also worthless. Take any fast, luxurious car, then handicap t with a miniscule gas tank, and use it as the basis for comparison. I'm not asserting that the iPhone is the pinnacle of smartphones.
You basically evaded my points by targeting my word choice. You've also made vernacular claims without backing them up. And, you've wasted my time, but I'm enjoying this time waste. Do continue.

Blake0767 says:

@ Rhit
As am I! I think from the beginning you've misunderstood my point (probably because you could care less what my point is for the sake of argument). So I'll try this once again without being sarcastic or witty (in my opinion).
Show me a device with similar features (iPhone, droid, storm 2 etc.) with a substantially larger battery life. I'm not trying to pump up the iPhone like you claim in any way. Just stating that it is rediculous to complain about battery life. (maybe I should have said futile there instead of rediculous...)
These mobile computing devices that you and I are carrying around have a flaw, and that's battery life. All of them. But I guess for me it's not worth complaining about. But instead more fun to pick at those complaining.
Oh and my marathon analogy wins.

Will says:

The one regret of my 3g iPhone....The freeking camera is lame. I had an old Sony Ericsson candy bar that would kick this thing from here to next week in picture quality.
It took long enough for Apple to do something better with pictures, but I would have rather seen better focusing and flash then pixel counts.