August 8, 2020

iPhone fans may have to wait until 2022 to get periscope cameras

Apple is reportedly lining up suppliers, but you might not see a long-zoom iPhone any time soon.

iPhone 11 Pro Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus camera closeups

  • Reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claims Apple will bring periscope cameras to the iPhone.
  • However, this supposedly won’t happen until 2022.
  • Details on Apple’s periscope camera tech are scarce, though Apple has been patenting periscope lenses for years.

Modern iPhones are well-regarded for their cameras, but they don’t have long-zoom periscope cameras like you find on the Huawei P-series or Samsung’s Galaxy S20 Ultra — and you might be waiting a while, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

In a note supplied to AppleInsider (via The Verge), the historically reliable TF Securities researcher claims Apple is in line to bring periscope cameras to iPhones in 2022 with the help of suppliers like South Korean lens maker Semco. Kuo had hinted at plans for a periscope system in March, and those details now appear to be solidifying.

The 2020 iPhones are expected to focus more on improving conventional optical quality, including through seven-element lenses instead of five or six like it uses today.

There still aren’t any details regarding what Apple’s periscope design would involve, provided Kuo is accurate. However, it won’t necessarily replicate the technology you find in some Android phones. Apple has been patenting periscope lenses since at least 2016, and that design included an adjustable zoom rather than the fixed distance seen on many existing Android devices.

Apple’s periscope cameras vs. the Android competition

The tech giant has a strong incentive to add periscope cameras, whatever it might offer. The technology has become relatively popular in countries like China, which represents one of Apple’s most important markets. This would help Apple compete with the likes of Huawei and appeal to mobile photography enthusiasts who want the kind of long-distance shooting normally associated with dedicated cameras.

The challenge, of course, is that the market isn’t sitting still. Periscope lenses tend to offer only 5x optical zoom by themselves, but that could easily change with 10x lenses on the horizon. Phone makers also use software to produce ‘lossless’ zoom at greater distances. Apple may have to offer adjustable zoom or similar advantages if its periscope camera tech is going to stand out two years from now.

See also: The best camera apps for Android