Apple's latest patent drops a clue about the iPhone 7 camera

The iPhone camera
The iPhone camera.

Before the latest tech from Apple's engineers makes it into your iPhone, it has to make its way through the US patent office, and that means we can often get a sneak peek at what the Cupertino company is planning for the future.

The latest example: a patent for a telephoto lens that also makes mention of a dual-lens camera. Essentially, a telephoto lens achieves a broader focus range from a physically shorter lens, and that means the iPhone camera 'bump' could soon be consigned to history.

Apple's patent shows how a lowercase 'r' shape (a bit like a periscope) could be used to cram more lens technology in a smaller space. It would in theory let you snap objects from further away and apply some useful background blur effects.

One lens good, two lenses better

If Apple manages to perfect the hardware to match the patent then the gap between your smartphone's camera and a professional DSLR will shrink further, but just as interesting is the mention that the patent makes of a second lens that users could switch to instead.

Dual-lens cameras (like the one in the new Huawei P9) offer better resolution and better zoom capabilities.Such a system has long been rumoured as a possible upgrade for the iPhone. If the recent gossip is true, it's finally going to arrive with the iPhone 7.

Until Tim Cook actually holds up a handset on stage, we won't know for sure what's in the next-gen iPhone, but a succession of leaks and now this officially filed patent from Apple suggests the camera setup could be one of the best features of the upcoming iPhone 7.

Here's our hands-on review of the latest iPhone SE:

Via Digital Trends

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.