iPhone 12 leak reveals bad news for the camera — giving Galaxy Note 20 an edge

iPhone 12 render by PhoneArena
(Image credit: Phone Arena)

The iPhone 12's camera is going to see some improvements, but those hoping for a more powerful zoom could be in for a long, long wait. And this new report gives Samsung phones like the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra an edge.

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo in a new note to investors (via AppleInsider) says that a periscope telephoto camera will first appear on the 2022 iPhone, which would be the iPhone 14 if Apple keeps up its current naming pattern. But the iPhone 12 is getting some welcome camera upgrades.

The veteran Apple analyst had previously made his prediction of a periscope camera on the 2022 iPhone back in March, but he now has more detail to add. Korea's Semco and China's Sunny Optical are named as the two companies Apple is making arrangements with according to the report.

Apple is reportedly using these components to develop the iPhone's cameras starting later this year and continuing into 2021. Semco will then be the main provider of the 2022 periscope tech, along with suppliers Largan, Alps and Minebea.

Periscope lenses are what allow phone makers to give their phones impressive optical zoom magnification. They use mirrors and prisms to make the distance that light has to travel between the phone's sensor and the outside world longer, allowing more lenses to be added to increase the zoom without losing resolution.

For comparison, the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max offer just 2x optical zoom. Previous rumors had the iPhone 12 Pro line upping the optical zoom to 3x, but this report doesn't discuss the zoom range for this year's models. Compared to the 5x optical zoom we're expecting on the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, that looks a lot worse on paper.

iPhone 12 camera: What do you get?

What the iPhone 12 should be getting is an improved 7-part lens array in its main camera, and a new "ball-type" voice-coil motor (VCM). The VCM was previously a spring-based design.

In essence, these upgrades should mean improvements to the camera's autofocus and image stabilization, as well as better magnification and less distortion to images taken by the iPhone 12.

Aside from these changes to the camera, the iPhone 12 is rumored to feature a powerful A14  Bionic chip, 5G support and OLED displays on all four models, which range in size between 5.4 inches and 6.7 inches. The iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max should also have a 120Hz display refresh rate, and a new LiDAR depth sensor added to its rear camera block.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.