AppleInsider have found out an interesting new patent that Apple have filed for, as published by the US Patent and Trademark Office earlier this week. The patent involves users having the ability to change their iPhone camera lenses to increase picture quality just like you would on DSLRs.
iPhone 5 to feature swappable lens covers?
The patent is called “Back Panel for a Portable Electronic Device with Different Camera Lens Options,” and pictures of a phone which appears to be the iPhone or similar, is included, with a camera in the upper left-hand corner of the device. Within the patent it is stated that despite increasingly high quality cameras on devices, users are remaining un-satiated and require cameras on their phones equal to those on top digital cameras, with features to match, like DSLR cameras which are very popular. Users are looking for features to include optical zoom and image stabilisation, and supplementary lenses/filters.
Although the iPhone does already pack a “pre-assembled digital imaging subsystem” as mentioned on AppleInsider which explains why they manage to be so compact within phones, and although this is impressive, users cannot replace lenses on this kind of camera or change filters or lenses as there is no mount for this.
Apple state in their patent filing that they feel it would be positive for users if they could “provide a structure for a compact device that allows the end user to reconfigure the optical arrangement of the device while retaining the benefits of assembling the device using a pre-assembled digital imaging subsystem.” They plan to do this by including a lens with an optical axis, so the back panel on the phone can be removed, revealing the digital imaging subsystem. The case would hold this all together, so no actual connection would need to be made between the optical component on the camera and the subsystem, allowing the user to be able to change optics on a small portable phone.
Usually iPhone cameras do include a cut filter which is nearly infrared, to stop infrared light distorting picture colours, and Apple are now planning to put the IR-cut filter on the aforementioned removable panel, allowing more flexibility to the user who could take it off in order to take low light level pictures or pictures in black and white.
The filing of this new patent is particularly potent as the late Steve Jobs who co-founded Apple commented in an interview with Walter Isaacson who wrote his biography, that the one market he wanted to crack and make an impact on was photography.
With the iPhone 5 now just around the corner, there are rumors that it would pack a 12-megapixel camera. However just as was the case with the Samsung Galaxy S3 which also was rumored to get a 12MP shooter, we instead saw the same 8MP camera but with a better image processing chip and sensor. So we wouldn’t be surprised if the iPhone 5 sticks with 8MP too but introduces something revolutionary like these swappable lens covers.