While all eyes are on the iPhone 8/Edition due to be announced next week, Apple is of course already working on next year’s models. A supply-chain report hints at one new feature: a camera offering more than 12MP resolution …

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The Digitimes report claims that Apple has already placed orders for the higher-resolution camera modules. However, the timing rules out use in this year’s iPhones.

Apple reportedly has booked up the production capacity for above 12-megapixel lens modules at a new factory being built by smartphone lens module maker Largan Precision in central Taiwan.

Among makers of above 12-megapixel smartphone lens modules, only Largan meets Apple’s minimum yield rate requirement, according to market rumors. The new factory in Taichung is designed to accomodate monthly production capacity of 600 million lens modules, six times Largan’s present capacity, and will start production in October 2017.

The report says that small-volume production will begin in October, and ramp up into Q4.

While the timing could make it possible that the module is destined for an iPad, Apple almost always introduces new tech to the iPhone first.

Apple has historically avoided playing the megapixel game, remaining well below the numbers offered by some competitor smartphones – and with good reason. While higher resolution sounds good on paper, cramming more pixels into the same size sensor can actually result in worse image quality, especially in low light. Low-density sensors are key to the best image quality, and iPhones have relied on a combination of modest pixel numbers and larger-than-average sensors for smartphones.

One possibility is that Apple is now planning fitting even larger sensors to future iPhones, though space is always at a premium in the devices.

Largan declined to comment on the reported order by Apple, but CEO Lin En-ping did confirm that the new factory will be geared to camera modules with dual or multiple lenses, large apertures and 3D sensing.

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