Earlier this month, reports suggested that the 2020 iPhones will finally sport a ToF depth sensor. Building upon that, it seems like not all members of the iPhone 12 series will be equipped with one.
While digging through the iOS 14 code, 9to5mac uncovered the existence of previously unseen iPhone models, codenamed as “d5x”. Considering that the iPhone 11 line-up was called the “d4x”, they expect this to be the unreleased iPhone 12 series. However, only two devices were listed with a built-in time-of-flight (ToF) sensor. It has led them to believe that the ToF sensor will be exclusive to the iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro Max.
This theory does seem to make sense, as Apple has usually distinguished its most expensive offerings on the basis of their cameras. For example, none of the cheaper iPhones sports a telephoto camera.
A 3D depth sensor has a lot of use cases that extend beyond photography. Apple has an entire ecosystem of augmented reality applications via ARKit, which will get a new life with a more exhaustive depth map. Previously, this was done with the existing primary camera. Photography will also massively gain with the depth sensor, as the iPhone will be able to focus faster and simulate better portrait mode photos.
However, the timelines of the iPhone 12 series might have been thrown off due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. Reports are also stating that the iPhone 9, the successor to the iPhone SE, has also been delayed indefinitely as Apple struggles to get the production ramped up with its Chinese suppliers.
Apple is known to take its time with adopting new technologies in order to perfect them. While Android smartphones have been sporting depth sensors for a few years, we are hopeful that the iPhone 12 Pro will bring unique new use cases for it.