This fall's iPhone 12 is expected to deliver a big camera upgrade, especially in the form of the LiDAR scanners rumored to appear in the higher-end Pro models. But an even bigger boost could be coming next year for those who take lots of photos and videos on their iPhones.
According to a Digitimes report (via MacRumors), future iPhone cameras could adopt liquid crystal polymer (LCP) circuit boards that would allow for images to be transmitted at even higher speeds. That could be an especially big boon for doing things such as livestreaming video over 5G, or using demanding augmented reality applications.
Digitimes notes that demand for these LCP-based boards is expected to increase, as they will be implemented in the 5G mmWave antenna modules that will be found in future iPhones. The report specifically mentions that "image data will be increasingly complicated in the 5G era and high-speed transmission will be needed to allow high-resolution images in live streaming and AR applications."
So it's possible that the iPhone 13 or a future iPhone may process images even more quickly for streaming to Twitch or watching Apple TV Plus shows in AR, just to name a few examples.
The iPhone 12 is expected to feature mmWave 5G technology on the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max models, though it's unclear if these LCP-based circuit boards will be implemented in this year's phones.
Even without high-speed image processing, the iPhone 12 is shaping up to a notable camera upgrade over the iPhone 11 series. Rumored features include a new 7-part lens for the main camera, which should result in better overall quality. The Pro and Pro Max models are expected to sport three lenses in addition to the LiDAR scanner we saw on this year's iPad Pro, which allows for advanced depth sensing for AR applications.
The iPhone 12 is expected to launch this fall in four variations, with a starting price of around $649. All models are tipped to feature 5G support and OLED displays, with a possible refresh rate bump to 120Hz for the high-end models. We could be waiting longer than usual for this year's iPhones, however, with the ongoing pandemic possibly pushing the launch event to October.