As the launch of the next iPhone approaches, rumor and speculation about what Apple’s latest and greatest smartphone could bring to the highly-competitive mobile marketplace is increasing. Based on the latest chatter, a reasonable snapshot of the new iPhone seems to be an “iPhone 5S” with the same design as the iPhone 5, a stronger processor, and an improved camera system.

But what about a “cool factor?” Apple’s previous “S-iPhone” upgrades” both included unique features to set it apart from either previous iPhones or other devices on the market. The iPhone 3GS included new Video Camera and Voice Control hardware and software to differentiate itself from its predecessor, while the iPhone 4S introduced Siri.

At a time where the marketshare of Apple’s competitors like Samsung and Google is consistently growing, the answer to what the next iPhone’s “surprise” feature will be is not so clear. There has been some chatter regarding a fingerprint sensor system, but nothing absolutely concrete.

Perhaps more likely than a new hardware-based feature is something related to camera software.

Over the past few years, Apple has attempted to innovate in the mobile camera department. The iPhone 3GS brought advanced video recording and face detection, the iPhone 4 brought 720P video recording, the iPhone 4S introduced an advanced optics system and 1080P recording, and the iPhone 5 introduced a glitzy, simple-to-use Panorama tool. With no sign of a new camera feature (other than filter effects) in the already-announced iOS 7, what camera improvements can we expect in the new iPhone?

Besides a dual-LED flash setup and perhaps a 13MP Sony-designed sensor, we have discovered that Apple is designing a new iPhone camera feature called “Mogul” mode. A mogul is defined as “a powerful person in a media industry,” making the word a perfect codename (or even a marketing name) for a new iPhone camera feature. The discovery, shared with us by Hamza Sood, comes by way of hidden references inside of the latest iOS 7 betas.

According to our analysis and testing of the code, “Mogul” is a feature in development that allows the iPhone to capture video at an exceptionally fast and precise rate. Specifically, our testing indicates that the feature can allow the iPhone to record video at a rate of 120 frames-per-second (FPS). The resolution at which this 120FPS video could be recorded at, however, is currently unclear.

Videos recorded at 120FPS are exceedingly crisp and gorgeous to watch. Above is an example of a video shot at 120FPS. As you can see, video shot at this speed is presented in a slow-motion state. This allows the viewer to absorb many of the details in the footage. Another great example of 120FPS footage is below:

Notably, the iPhone’s strongest competitor includes a similar slow-motion feature that records footage at 120 frames-per-second. Below is an example from a Galaxy S4:

While the code and evidence for the feature have been located in iOS 7, as the next iPhone approaches, we cannot confirm that the “Mogul” feature will arrive in the next iPhone, but it seems plausible. Nonetheless, Apple is actively working on the feature for a future iPhone model.

In our testing, the feature would not activate on an iPhone 5 (Apple’s newest iPhone model) as the hardware does not support it. In 2011, strong evidence of Apple’s work on an iPhone panorama feature emerged, but the option did not launch a year later until the iPhone 5 arrived.

Based on the code and text string evidence, the feature would be an option — much like Panorama, Square, Video, Standard, and Filters — in the iOS 7 Camera application.

Samsung’s Galaxy S4 introduced a flurry of new camera enhancements, most of which have been poorly reviewed and noted as solely for novelty purposes. On the other hand, Apple has taken a more limited approach by progressively introducing new camera features. While slow-motion video can sometimes seem like a novelty feature, it has purpose such as the ability to deflect blurring that occurs in lower frame-rate video. The feature could also have artistic implications much like the iPhone 5’s Panorama camera option.

Perhaps also forecasting Apple’s own use of  slow-motion technology in an iPhone camera feature is the presence of new developer-facing camera APIs and frameworks in iOS 7.

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In iOS 7, developers have access to new 60 frames-per-second video recording functionality. Coupled with this is support for enhanced playback, audio recording, editing, and exporting of this high-frame rate video. The presence of these features is likely necessary to support the aforementioned “Mogul” hardware-tied feature.

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A source submitted the above images from an Apple Developer Session that details the new functionality. This source also says that Apple presented a “neat” demo of playing back high-frame-rate video during one of the Developer Sessions. We previously reported that Apple has built-in developer access to new blinking and smiling developer APIs, which, too, could foreshadow future iPhone features.

We also previously provided evidence that Apple is working on an offline voice dictation feature for a future iPhone, something that would nicely round-out the list of enhancements to an “iPhone 5S” this fall.

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