The iPhone 12 was one of the best smartphones of 2020 in no small part due to its excellent camera performance, but one of the coolest camera features was the LiDAR, found in only the Pro models, which enabled cool AR apps.
If a new supply chain rumor from Digitimes is accurate, the iPhone 13 may bring LiDAR to the full lineup with the report indicating that Apple is "expected to apply the scanner technology to all its 2021 iPhone models," (via BGR).
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This wouldn't be a shocking move as Apple has put a strong emphasis on AR in recent years. We know that somewhere the so-called Apple Glass AR headset exists in development, which could put an even greater premium on AR apps and content in the coming years if Apple actually manages to ship it.
Digitimes reports that the parts order for the iPhone 13 is part of a three-year deal with Sony for LiDAR scanners, so if you aren't sold on the advantages of the LiDAR scanner, just know that Apple definitely is in it for the (relatively) long haul.
While a lot of the more frivolous AR features garner attention as they make for more fun demos, there's a lot more to the LiDAR scanners than that. While it isn't going to be accurate enough for a carpenter, the measurement functionality alone is quite handy for when you need a measurement within about a quarter inch.
And from a pure camera performance standpoint, the LiDAR scanner allows you to capture much better portrait mode photos given the greater understanding of the relative position of the subject versus other objects in the photos. iPhone fans won't have quite as long to wait this year as Apple is expected to be back on schedule with a September release and if you haven't upgraded already there's certainly a lot to look forward to with the iPhone 13.