He says that Sunny Optical successfully passed Apple’s approvals process for iPad lenses, and that the lessons learned from this have put the company on track to be approved to make the main camera lens for the iPhone 13 lineup …
Orders for the seven-element lens for the main camera are currently split between Largan, Yujingguang, and Kantatsu, which supply the lens to LG Innotek for incorporation into the camera module. Sunny Optical is expected to be approved as an additional supplier for the lens.
Apple likes to have multiple suppliers for as many components as possible, for two reasons. First, security of supply: If there’s a problem with one supplier, the others can pick up the slack. Second, cost-management: Multiple suppliers give Apple the negotiating strength to play off one supplier against another.
Recap on iPhone 13 camera expectations
Kuo last year indicated that we can expect three improvements to the ultra-wide camera in the iPhone 13.
First, he expects the aperture to be widened from f/2.4 to f/1.8. All other things being equal, that would let in more than twice as much light, significantly improving the low-light performance. In particular, it should allow for sharper and cleaner night shots.
Second, sources indicate that the number of elements in the lens will be increased from five to six. There are pros and cons to adding elements to a lens, but when a manufacturer takes an existing lens design and adds elements, this is generally done to reduce distortion, which is especially important in wide-angle lenses.
Finally, he expect the ultra-wide lens to get auto-focus for the first time. The current ultra-wide lens is fixed-focus. This might sound surprising, but isn’t generally a huge issue in very wide-angle lenses as they are mostly used for landscapes and cityscapes, where everything in shot is far enough away to be in focus. However, switching to auto-focus will be useful for closer wide-angle shots.
He’s not predicting any notable improvements this year to either the main lens or the telephoto. We are, however, expecting dramatically better reach for the telephoto lens in 2022, thanks to Apple’s expected adoption of a periscope lens design. This could see up to 10x optical zoom.
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