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2022 iPhone camera again said to be getting improved zoom thanks to light bending

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max cameras
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max cameras (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • Apple is said to want to bring a periscope lens to the 2022 iPhone.
  • LG InnoTek will reportedly act as an intermediary to allow Samsung parts to be used.

Apple is again said to be on the lookout for a way to improve the zoom capabilities of the 2022 iPhone, with a periscope lens set to be the way it's accomplished. The parts for that lens will come from Samsung Electro-Mechanics with LG InnoTek, rather than Apple, placing the order.

That's according to The Elec which reports that Samsung Electro-Mechanics unlikely to sell directly to Apple. And Apple really needs those parts if it is to offer a similar standard of feature to that already brought to market by Samsung, Huawei, and others.

... Apple is behind in patents in actuators, the people said. Samsung uses ball guide actuators for its folded zoom camera __ the ball rolls around to move the lens barrel. Apple currently uses springs to move the lens barrels, which falls behind in speed and accuracy to ball guides. Ball guide method also uses less power and is more durable. This becomes important as more lens are used and bigger image sensors are used in cameras.

But placing an order isn't as simple as it could be, with Samsung Electronics likely to kick up a fuss – the company is part-owner of the patents used by its sibling company, Samsung Electro-Mechanics.

Confused yet?

Samsung Electronics will also unlikely allow Samsung Electro-Mechanics to supply the modules directly to Apple. Some of the patents related to actuators and other components are also co-owned by Samsung Electronics, Jahwa Electronics and other suppliers.Apple can bypass these issues such as patents by having LG InnoTek secure the components from Samsung Electro-Mechanics.

If all that sounds like a farce, that's because it is. But the results will be impressive, with the future iPhone – penciled in for a 2022 launch – set to benefit from zoom well beyond the 3x currently offered by iPhone 12 Pro Max. It'll achieve that by bending light – it's effectively a periscope – to allow the sensor to be mounted at 90 degrees to the lens, creating a longer zoom. It's all pretty clever and something high-end Android phones currently offer.

The same feature coming to a future iPhone is a given at this point. Apple just needs to get all the politics squared away first.

Oliver Haslam
Contributor

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.