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Apple iPhone 16 Pro to Feature Sony’s Latest Camera Sensor Technology

TL;DR: Apple’s iPhone 16 Pro will feature Sony’s latest stacked sensor technology for improved low-light performance and increased optical zoom. The iPhone 16 family will also introduce AI-infused features to enhance image capture, processing, and editing. More details are expected at June’s Worldwide Developer Conference.

Pushing Smartphone Photography Further

The next iPhone will push smartphone photography further than Apple’s previous efforts with new hardware and revolutionary software. More details have emerged on what Tim Cook and his team have planned.

Apple is expected to use Sony’s latest camera sensor technology. The stacked sensor technology splits photodiodes and pixel transistors into two distinct layers, allowing more light to be captured for each pixel. Sony claims up to twice the amount of light can be captured compared to its current sensors.

Exclusive to iPhone 16 Pro Max?

Previously, cutting-edge technology was limited to the largest of the new models. If that’s the case, this new sensor and the increased low-light capability may be reserved for the iPhone 16 Pro Max.

At the very least, this allows Apple to make a case for the most expensive iPhone beyond “the screen is a bit bigger.”

Increased Optical Zoom

Apple will also increase the optical zoom available on the higher-tier iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max handsets. This will be facilitated by using a tetraprism lens.

Much like a periscope, a tetraprism lens uses prisms to fold the path of the light to create a longer lens than the depth offered by the smartphone.

The iPhone 15 Pro allows x3 optical zoom using such a system. The iPhone 16 Pro and 16 Pro Max will see an upgrade to x5 optical zoom and the expectation of x25 digital zoom as an option when taking photos.

Update: Apple’s Plans for iPhone 17 Camera

Adam Juniper reports on Apple’s plans for the iPhone 17’s camera with a headline specification of a 144-megapixel camera. This would be made up of three lenses, all sporting 48-megapixel sensors.

The iPhone 16 family should upgrade all the main cameras to 48 megapixels. The iPhone 17 Pro will build on that with the 48-megapixel technology coming to the telephoto and the ultrawide camera.

This doesn’t necessarily mean Apple will default to a 48-megapixel image. The extra information will allow for advanced techniques currently in use, such as pixel binning—taking four pixels from the sensor and combining them into one single but more accurate pixel—and upcoming AI-based techniques Apple will no doubt debut at its Worldwide Developer Conference in May 2024.

Joining the AI Revolution

In terms of software, Apple will finally join the AI revolution with the iPhone 16 family of smartphones. A raft of AI-infused features will improve how images are captured, processed, and edited by tens of millions of consumers.

While AI routines have been part of Apple’s camera suite in previous years, the recent push by Android manufacturers (particularly Samsung and Google) to brand their phones as AI-powered phones has left the iPhone behind.

The iPhone 16 family will be Tim Cook’s first chance to sell hardware with a particular focus on AI. You can expect the visual difference it makes to photos to be both an easy emotion to sell and a powerful demonstration on stage when the next iPhone is launched in September.

Before then, we’ll get our first look at Apple’s AI efforts and hints at what’s to come at June’s Worldwide Developer Conference.

This is significant.


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