Apple Inc. has obtained two new patents from the US Patent and Trademark office. Both of them are related to the camera lens arrangement in its smartphone range, the iPhones. The company calls them a “folded lens system with five refractive lenses” and a lens with “three refractive lenses.”The company is working on making further changes to the optics section in the iPhones, within the limitations the size of the device throws up.
A Periscopic Lens Stack Arrangement?
Though Apple has obtained these patent approvals in the US, the Chinese company Huawei has already released a smartphone, the Huawei P30 Pro that sports a periscopic camera setup in the rear. It is not essential that the two designs should be the same; however, it must be realized that Apple has not thought of something new.
The approval of a patent does not also mean the company is bound to follow the logical conclusion of fitting the cameras in its next iteration of iPhones. Apple, in particular, applies for and obtains hundreds of patents regularly. The company implements only a fraction of them for their smartphones in the commercial market. The key areas are image quality along with ease of focusing and clicking. Any day, a smartphone is a more convenient way to take cameras than a bulky DSLR camera. However, the size factor alone limits the options for the smartphone maker in expanding the capabilities of the lenses fitted.
A periscopic mirror or a prism kept at a 90° angle can reflect the image on to the lenses kept in a stack to achieve the desired results. Apple has taken two patents, as described above, one consisting of three lenses and the other five. There will be a combination of convex and concave lenses as well.
Details of the Focal Length and Viewing Angles
The first patent with the five refractive lenses is capable of offering a 50-85mm focal length. The view through the camera can vary between 28° and 41°. This will suit wide-angle shooters. The other patent can offer 80-200mm in terms of focal length range. The viewing field will be limited to the 17.8° to 28.5° range using the three lenses. This can form the telephoto lens assembly on the iPhone.
As mentioned, these need not translate into actual designs for the next year’s iPhones or later. However, it cannot be denied that the square bump to fit the cameras in the iPhone 11 series this year was described by many as very un-Apple like. It is possible the company is working on ways to redesign the rear camera setup for a new out of the box solution.