iPhone 12 leak reveals big camera upgrade — but there's bad news, too

iPhone 12 Pro camera render
(Image credit: svetapple)
  • A new analyst note from Ming-Chi Kuo says that the iPhone 12 will incorporate "high-end" lens arrays in the rear-facing camera.
  • The analyst previously said to expect a 7-element lens for the iPhone 12, which should deliver better image quality than the 6P lens in the iPhone 11.
  • However, the shipment of these lenses is reportedly delayed by 4 to 6 weeks, which will likely impact the iPhone 12's release date. 

The iPhone 12 will likely get a welcome upgrade to its camera lenses when it is released, but a delay in getting the new hardware to Apple assembly lines may mean a later-than-planned launch is inevitable.

The news comes from AppleInsider, which has got its hands on an investor note penned by respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Kuo is claiming that lens maker Largan will commence shipments of "high-end" lenses to Apple in mid-July for use on the rear-camera modules of the iPhone 12.

We'd heard previously from Kuo that Apple was going to use 7-element lenses in the iPhone 12's main camera, an upgrade from 6-part main and telephoto lenses and 5-part ultrawide lens in the iPhone 11 series. 

The extra lens element should result in better photo quality, reducing the image distortion that occurs as light passes through the lenses into the camera sensor. Whether this would be applied to all iPhone 12 models or just the two iPhone 12 Pro versions is unclear.

The timing of the shipment is further evidence that Apple's iPhone production is being delayed this year. Normally, lens shipments begin four to six weeks earlier than this, with the peak of shipments from August to October rather than this year's predicted September to November. 

This could mean we'll see Apple's usual September iPhone event take place in October instead. Otherwise, disappointed customers might find there aren't enough iPhone handsets to go around.

Previous rumors have said other big camera changes for the iPhone 12 will be the addition of a LiDAR depth sensor on the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max, as well as the ability to record video in 4K at up to 240fps, enabled by a new A14 chipset. 

You should also look out for new screen-size options of 5.4, 6.1 and 6.7 inches, depending on the model. You can also expect OLED displays on all four models and 5G connectivity and potentially 120Hz displays on the two iPhone 12 Pro models, although that last detail now looks to be more uncertain, based on recent rumors.

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.