ETNews, a tech site out of South Korea, says Apple is on the hunt for folding camera suppliers for upcoming iPhones. The source sites "industry officials who are familiar with the situation related to the development of iPhone cameras," so take that as you will.
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A folding camera, or periscope camera, refracts light like a periscope for greater optical zoom range than a traditional telephoto lens. Crucially, it does so without needing any more space, which is particularly important when you're talking about smartphones. The goal, of course, would be to extend the zoom range without needing a detachable module or a large camera bump.
For now, the iPhone 12 (and iPhone 12 Pro for that matter) lags behind the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and Galaxy S20 Ultra when it comes to zoom capabilities. One could argue that it's the only area where Samsung consistently tops Apple when it comes to imaging. A new periscope lens on the iPhone 13 could make Apple competitive again.
This all sounds exciting but don't get too worked up just yet. Apple only recently released the iPhone 12 and we're at least nine months away from seeing any hint of an iPhone 13. And while ETNews has a solid track record for these kinds of things, the sourcing in this one is a bit vague.
Will Apple turn to Samsung
Samsung is Apple's largest competitor but it could also be the company that helps the iPhone compete against Galaxy devices. Sounds backward, no? Well, as ETNews reports, only a few companies are capable of creating a periscope lens, and Samsung is one of them.
Apple might need to buy Samsung components for the iPhone 13 camera if it wants to improve the zoom capabilities of its phones. But will Samsung oblige? ETNews reports, "Some believe that Samsung Electronics and Samsung Electro-Mechanics will not cooperate with Apple even when Apple requests supply of folded cameras."
You can see why Samsung might deny requests (and lots of money) to use its tech — the zoom lens on the Galaxy Note and S models is one reason to buy a Galaxy over an iPhone. By lending its proprietary tech to Apple, Samsung could cannibalize the sales of its own devices.
We'll get a better idea of what to expect in the iPhone 13 as we get closer to its reveal date, which will likely be in September or October of 2021 if Apple keeps its normal launch schedule.