Ming-Chi Kuo hath spoken again. The Apple prognosticator is now saying it’s increasingly likely that the iPhone 13 will feature an upgraded ultrawide camera with “significantly improved” low-light performance.
Kuo, who has a good track record when it comes to Apple rumors, noted back in November that it was possible that the iPhone 13 might ship with f/1.8 ultrawide with a six-element lens and autofocus. (The current iPhone 12 Pro lineup sports f/2.4 ultrawide cameras with a five-element lens and fixed focus.) But while the possibility was certainly there, it wasn’t necessarily something that was a given.
So why is it significantly more likely now than it was a few months ago? For starters, Kuo’s latest research note says that Sunny Optical, a China-based lens maker, has completed Apple’s validation process for a five-element (5P) camera lens. Those lenses are slated for shipment in the first quarter of 2021 on a yet-unknown iPad model, according to Kuo. That’s not necessarily notable on its own, but Sunny Optical also apparently learned a lot during the verification process—meaning it’s much more likely that it might become the supplier for a 7P lens on a future iPhone.
According to Kuo, this might mean Sunny Optical could be a contender for unseating Largan, Apple’s existing lens supplier. While Apple is notorious for dicking around suppliers, pitting one against another, it’s had a much harder time doing that with Largan due to its advanced lens tech and its status as the world’s largest supplier of smartphone camera lenses.
A big question is whether all iPhone 13 models will get the upgraded lens. While it’s expected that the iPhone 13 will have four models like the iPhone 12, Kuo’s stance is that only the two higher-end models will get that sweet f/1.8 6P upgrade. However, MacRumors cites Barclays analysts Blayne Curtis and Thomas O’Malley as saying all iPhone 13 models will have the f/1.8 aperture lens. Curtis and O’Malley also contend that the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s telephoto lens will make its way to the regular iPhone 13 Pro. In any case, regardless of which iPhone 13s get the better ultrawide lens, Kuo says the upgraded lens should make its way to the rest of the flagship iPhones by the second half of 2022.
Another rumor notes that all iPhone 13 models should have some kind of OLED screen, with both Pro models possibly getting a bump up to 120Hz refresh rates—an omission some found disappointing in the iPhone 12 lineup.
These kinds of upgrades aren’t surprising. Apple, after all, loves to introduce incremental upgrades year after year. But if you’ve got a perfectly good iPhone and have been on the fence about whether to upgrade to the iPhone 12, it might be worth holding out for just a bit longer.