The iPhone 8 could come with a rear-facing 3D laser to support AR apps

With rumors that the 10th anniversary iPhone (AKA iPhone 8) could arrive with 3D sensors for facial recognition running rife, it shouldn’t be surprising that sources have confirmed Apple is integrating 3D lasers to the rear camera of the handset. 

Fast Company has reported (opens in new tab) that the iPhone (either the upcoming models or the 2018 ones) will use a vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (or VCSEL) system, as evidence mounts that Apple has procured VCSEL components from various sources.

The VCSEL system would improve the iPhone camera’s autofocus capabilities and depth perception for better augmented reality experiences.

AR ready

It shouldn’t come as much of a shock that Apple is trying to improve AR experiences in it devices, given Apple CEO Tim Cook's preference for augmented reality rather than virtual reality. That was followed by the announcement of ARKit at WWDC 2017, and Apple’s foray into augmented reality was sealed. 

ARKit is set to arrive with iOS 11 later this year, giving developers the chance to create AR apps for iPhones and iPad. 

Whether the iPhone 8 will actually arrive with the VCSEL technology, however, will depend on how quickly Apple’s engineers can work and, of course, the accuracy of these leaks. And given that the system will apparently be integrated into the rear of the phone, we might have to wait until September to find out if we'll need to stare at the rear of the handset to unlock it, or if the 3D sensors will grace both faces of the phone.

  • Think the iPhone 8 is overrated? A cheaper iPhone 7S could be arriving in September, too.
Sharmishta Sarkar
Managing Editor (APAC)

Sharmishta is TechRadar's APAC Managing Editor and loves all things photography, something she discovered while chasing monkeys in the wilds of India (yes, she studied to be a primatologist but has since left monkey business behind). While she's happiest with a camera in her hand, she's also an avid reader and has become a passionate proponent of ereaders, having appeared on Singaporean radio to talk about the convenience of these underrated devices. When she's not testing cameras and lenses, she's discovering the joys and foibles of smart home gizmos. She also contributes to Digital Camera World and T3, and helps produce two of Future's photography print magazines in Australia.