What you need to know

  • Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claims Apple will release two iPhone models in 2020 that come equipped with time-of-flight sensors.
  • The time-of-flight sensors are said to improve camera quality and also create next-level AR experiences.
  • These iPhone models are also said to feature 5G support.

A recent report claimed Apple would release three iPhone models in 2020 that support 5G. Now, a new report says two of those iPhones will feature rear time-of-flight 3D sensors, which many predict will further elevate Apple's camera prowess.

According to noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, these time-of-flight sensors will improve the photo quality of the iPhone's camera and expand Apple's augmented reality aspirations.

As we previously pointed out, many big augmented reality systems, including Microsoft's Hololens, already use these sensors.

A time-of-flight system can accurately map out your surroundings by calculating how long it takes for a laser or LED to bounce of objects. The system differs from Face ID, which uses infrared cameras and a dot projector.

We explain:

Where the current True Depth sensor does a great job gathering data up close, the smaller time-of-flight sensors necessary for the back of a phone would be better suited for gathering data at room-scale. Being able to see how far the wall or the couch is from the phone means augmented reality apps could better integrate with the environment, instead of asking the user to find a suitable space to play in like many ARKit apps currently do.

This isn't the first time we've heard Apple is considering using a time-of-flight system in a future smartphone. According to Kuo, Apple is aggressively investigating the technology and wants to introduce it alongside support for 5G, the combination of which will allow Apple to create a "revolutionary AR experience."