There is no doubt that Apple plans to improve camera technology on the next generation iPhone. The question is, how significant will the changes be? According to a report from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (KGI Securities) and detailed by MacRumors, the upgrade to the iPhone 7 Plus could be significant indeed. Kuo predicts that a dual-lens rear camera is in development, basing this assertion on Apple's acquisition of LinX imaging last April.
LinX was known for developing miniaturized, multi-aperture cameras for mobile devices. Since these multi-lens cameras capture information from different points in space, proprietary software can be used to improve low light sensitivity, construct 3D imagery, or capture light-field images that can be refocused in post processing. Before it was bought by Apple, LinX claimed to have solved all of the problems associated with multi-lens camera modules.
The technology could also be used to provide optical zoom capability, which was recently revealed in an Apple patent application. With multiple image sensors, the Camera app could display two different fields of view for the same scene, and capture them simultaneously as associated data files. Kuo believes Apple will highlight a 2-3x optical zoom capability on the iPhone 7 Plus. There are some caveats to the report, however.
Due to supply constraints, Kuo believes Apple will launch two different versions of the iPhone 7 Plus. One would feature a standard, one-sensor iSight camera. An upgrade version would be offered featuring the dual-camera setup described above. It is also possible these major camera changes won't see the light of day until the iPhone 7s Plus in 2017. In any case, Apple is poised to continue its leading position in the smartphone camera market. It would make sense for the company to utilize the multi-sensor technology it acquired from LinX Imaging in the near future.