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iPhone 12 may get a new image stabilization trick and greater zoom

iPhone 11
The iPhone 11's rear cameras (Image credit: Future)

The iPhone 12 may still be half a year away, but we're already hearing rumblings of what's to come. The latest comes from noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who suggests Apple has new camera technology slated for its highest-end iPhone 12 model this year, MacRumors reports.

The new feature centers around a new technique for image stabilization called sensor-shift technology. As the name suggests, this would allow the actual image sensor itself to move slightly, helping it handle movement and vibrations in a similar way to how optical image stabilization allows a camera's lenses to move. 

Kuo suggests this feature will come exclusively to a 6.7-inch iPhone model this year, which leaves out any other models of the iPhone. A 6.7-inch model would be Apple's largest iPhone screen, and this could be the first instance of Apple further delineating between phone models with special features.

For the 2018 and 2019 iPhone, Apple kept the camera features the same between the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max as well as between the iPhone XS and XS Max. So, it would appear that Kuo is suggesting that a presumed iPhone 12 Pro would lack this sensor-shift technology while an iPhone 12 Pro Max would have it.

Zooming into 2022

The sensor-shift technology may be coming this year, but Kuo has also suggested that Apple may jump onto a growing industry trend of extra zoom capabilities. This would come in the form of a periscope lens like that found on the latest Samsung Galaxy S20 devices or the Huawei P30 family. A periscope lens can offer extra optical zoom power for a smartphone by orienting the lens vertically in the phone and using a mirror to angle it out the back of the phone, which allows a longer focal length without needing to increase the thickness of the device.

This would potentially give the iPhone substantially more zoom power than its current 2x limit - other phones without periscope lenses max out at 3x optical, like the Galaxy S20 and the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus. But, Kuo doesn't believe this feature will be coming until 2022, meaning we may be waiting for an iPhone 14 to bring it. 

Fortunately, there may be some other upgrades coming to the iPhone 12, as we've previously heard a leak suggesting the iPhone 12 will get a 48MP camera.