Hopes of a fancy new high-megapixel camera in any forthcoming iPhone 6s are likely to be in vain if the latest rumour coming from Taipei is to be believed.
Industry analyst Jeff Pu of Yuanta Securities Investment Consulting Co, was recently quoted in the Taipei Times, claiming that the forthcoming flagship iPhone (we’ll call it “iPhone 6s” for now) will stick with an 8-megapixel rear camera sensor – the same pixel resolution found in current iPhone 6 models. He has therefore maintained a “downgrade” rating on shares in Largan Precision Co, a major camera lens supplier to Apple, citing a slowdown in the migration to higher-resolution sensors in premium smartphones.
Pu predicts that any improvements in iPhone camera hardware will instead come from, “new features, such as optical image stabilization and fast autofocus, which benefit module makers more than lens makers, in our view.”
It’s certainly not beyond the realms of possibility that an iPhone 6s might receive an optical image stabilizer similar to that found in the current iPhone 6 Plus, but autofocus is already very fast and accurate on both of the current iPhone 6 models and neither improvement is likely to whip up much excitement with potential customers.
What Pu hasn’t mentioned, however, is just how many 8-megapixel sensors might be found in Apple’s next iPhone. If rumours are to be believed, there’s a possibility that the “iPhone 6s” might use a dual-lens system which can only be good news for lens makers and module makers alike, bringing with it a potential doubling in sales to Apple – a considerably less gloomy prospect for Largan.
Very high resolution sensors can be great for digital zoom functions and allow and can provide greater leeway for cropping images while maintaining acceptable quality, but they also bring disadvantages such as increased demands on processing power and storage. Cramming more pixels into any particular sensor size also increases the potential for unwanted image noise or “graininess” in the final photos.
Twin lens/dual-sensor cameras, on the other hand, can actually reduce image noise, thereby improving low-light performance, reducing grain and improving detail without increasing the size of the resulting JPEG images. They can also be put to use for other options such as optical telephoto or wide angle views which would currently need to be shot as a panorama or using an external lens such as an Olloclip.
Conversely, it’s worth noting that an 8 megapixel sensor falls just a little short of what’s needed to capture Ultra-HD 4K video. Although the iPhone 6 can get pretty close to 4K with the help of dedicated apps, it’s unlikely that Apple would add the feature without full hardware support for the Ultra-HD resolution. Several rival smartphones, such as the 16-megapixel Samsung Galaxy Note 4, already support UHD 4K video.
What do you think? Does the iPhone need more megapixels?