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iOS 14 code says Apple will add time-of-flight sensing to iPhone 12 Pro to create 3D models

iPhone 11 Pro Midnight Green cameras
iPhone 11 Pro Midnight Green cameras (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

What you need to know

  • Snippets of iOS 14 code say new iPhones have the codename "d5x".
  • Two of the new iPhones will have a time-of-flight sensor.
  • That probably means iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max.

The arrival of a time-of-flight (ToF) sensor to a future iPhone has been rumored for years, but now it sounds like we can expect iPhone 12 Pro to be the first to get the feature. According to iOS 14 code that 9to5Mac has been spelunking through, iPhone 12 won't get the feature.

9to5Mac has shared the latest details that have been spotted in iOS 14 and thanks to that we now know that the 2020 iPhones carry the codename "d5x". But based on that it's been able to work out that only two of the 2020 models have a ToF sensor – most likely iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Based on that knowledge we'd expect the back of the highest-end 2020 iPhones to have a ToF sensor, a wide-angle lens, an ultra-wide lens, and a telephoto lens. That will presumably make for a larger camera bump, but so be it.

So what does the ToF sensor add to the mix? Apple is reportedly working on a new augmented reality app that will make use of the sensor, allowing it to create detailed 3D models based on its surroundings.

The time-of-flight sensor will feature an infrared projector, similar to the front-facing TrueDepth camera present in iPhone X and newer models. That enables the iPhone to capture point clouds from the environment so it can generate 3D models based on them. One of the purposes of the ToF sensor that we can confirm is related with the Measure app, which will be able to make accurate distance and measurement calculations on these devices.

The addition of a ToF sensor could also help improve features like Portrait Mode, so there is plenty to look forward to here even if you aren't a big AR fan.

Apple is likely to announce iOS 14 during WWDC in June, with a beta made available to developers at the same time. We can expect more news as we edge closer to that event.

Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam

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.