The iPhone 12 event is just a few days away at this point, and we are expecting to see four new iPhones: iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max. Apple usually reserves those beefy camera improvements for the Pro line, giving users a reason to upgrade, especially if they care about mobile photography. Since I already did a general wish list for the iPhone 12, here are the things I hope to see for the iPhone 12 Pro camera.
Go LiDAR or go home
Apple added a LiDAR scanner to the 2020 iPad Pro, which allows the iPad Pro to better understand its surroundings thanks to 3D mapping magic. While the addition of a LiDAR scanner would mostly benefit augmented reality apps, it is also beneficial to pretty much anything that needs accurate depth and distance data.
While I have a 2020 iPad Pro, I honestly haven't used the LiDAR scanner on it much — I don't use it for taking photos or scanning my environment with an AR app. However, I can see why this would be more beneficial and accessible for the iPhone 12 Pro cameras, and it's already a very high chance that we're going to see LiDAR shown off on at least two iPhones at the iPhone 12 event.
More megapixels and bigger sensors
Apple has been using a 12-megapixel camera on the iPhone ever since the iPhone 6s, which debuted back in 2015. While more megapixels don't automatically make you a better photographer, they do increase the resolution of an image, which means things like higher quality prints.
A lot of Android phones have already moved way past the 12-megapixel threshold. The Galaxy S20 Ultra, for example, has a 108-megapixel wide lens, 48-megapixel telephoto lens, and 12-megapixel ultra wide lens. Now, I'm not saying that Apple needs to jump to the 100-megapixel range, but a little spec bump to 16 or 20-megapixels would be a huge improvement. After all, we've had the 12-megapixel camera on the iPhone 6s, 7, 8, X, XS, and 11 — it's long overdue for an increase.
Additionally, I would also like to see bigger sensors for the next iPhone 12 Pro camera. This would allow the iPhone 12 Pro to handle depth of field better and improve performance in low-light settings, especially with Night mode.
The spec bumps I'm hoping for also should apply not just to the main wide lens, but the telephoto and ultra wide as well. If those improvements were made, then perhaps there would be more reason to use something other than the standard wide lens for most photos.
So please, Apple, bump it up a bit to something like 16 or 20-megapixels, and put bigger sensors in. A standalone digital camera will be less needed if that were the case.
Let us photograph the stars with an Astro Mode
I'll admit it — I'm pretty jealous that Android phones like the new Pixel have an astrophotography mode. There have been so many times in the past where I want to take a picture of a beautiful moon or stars in the night sky, but I don't bother because my iPhone wouldn't do it justice (and I lack a DSLR).
I'm really hoping that Apple will introduce some astrophotography mode at the iPhone 12 event, because it's another long overdue feature. From what it looks like with the Pixel 4, the Astrophotography mode is built-in to the Night Sight mode (like Night mode on iPhones) and uses a combination of long exposures, HDR+, and Semantic Segmentation (similar to Deep Fusion) to capture the dark sky.
Apple already has the basic foundation for an astrophotography mode ready — they just need to implement it.
Give us some serious zoom
When I learned that the Galaxy S20 Ultra had a feature called 100X Space Zoom, I knew that it was a gimmick, but it was a gimmick that I wanted on the iPhone. Right now, the iPhone 11 Pro that I have has a 2X optical zoom thanks to the telephoto lens, but I would love to see it zoom even more. I would love to one day just take a photo of the city skyline from out in the water, and then just zoom in to the point where I can see cars and people from far away, just for kicks.
Okay, I'm sure that Apple won't do anything as crazy as 100X zoom like Samsung, but anything would be an improvement. Give us 5x, 10x, or even 30x zoom, because the competition is just leaving us in their dust.
C'mon Apple — make it happen.
Improved stabilization on all camera lenses
Optical image stabilization (OIS) allows for less blurry photos and smoother video, and it is built in to the iPhone 11. However, if you have the Pro and Pro Max models, you'll notice that photos taken with the ultra wide lens, especially in Night mode, may not seem as sharp when compared to the regular wide lens. That's because there is no OIS and no focus pixels with the ultra wide.
I would love to see Apple change that at the iPhone 12 event. There have been numerous times where I wanted to take an ultra wide photo in low light, but unable to since Night mode will not work with it, and there is no OIS. If that isn't possible, then perhaps improving processing so that ultra-wide photos appear sharper than they do right now.
Better video capabilities
Though I personally don't shoot a lot of video, plenty of other people do, and while the iPhone is great for video recording, there can be further improvements.
One big area that Apple could work on with a bigger sensor is better depth of field in video recording, which is currently very shallow. There should also be a way to record 4K video in slow-mo, as well as get some better quality overall. I don't record slow-mo often, but when I do, it's fun to see every little bit of detail.
Again, I don't take a lot of video overall when compared to still photos. But the iPhone is very popular among the YouTube community, as well as vloggers in general, so video improvements would always be welcome. And I bet such improvements would work great with one of the best iPhone gimbals, too.
What do you want to see in the iPhone 12 camera?
These are the biggest improvements I want to see on the iPhone 12 when it comes to the camera. What are you hoping to see during the iPhone 12 event? Let us know in the comments.
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Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.
When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.