iPhone 16 could get a major camera boost thanks to Samsung — here’s why

iPhone 16 prototypes
(Image credit: MacRumors)

Samsung could be the name behind a major camera upgrade in the iPhone 16. Accordimg to Korean news site The Elec, Apple is in the middle of a final quality assessment on CMOS Sensors provided by Samsung System LSI, set to be used in the iPhone 16 series’ main camera.

That is a noticeable change for Apple, which typically sources camera sensors from Sony. However the report suggests Apple is shifting away from the Japanese supplier over concerns about reliability and the need to add more advanced technology into the iPhone camera system.

The Elec also adds that Apple had asked Sony to work on new image sensors last year, only for Sony to reportedly drop the ball and fail to deliver them in a timely fashion. That one thing reportedly caused issues when Apple was trying to set a launch date for the iPhone 15. Assuming Samsung’s sensors can live up to Apple’s infamously high standards, it means Sony may be on the way out.

The Elec claims that the new Samsung sensor features a more advanced three-wafer stack design, with each wafer housing distinct elements — the photodiode, transistors, and analog digital converter logics. 

Current iPhone camera sensors only have a two-wafer stack, with the photodiode and transistors sharing one. But separating the components means better overall photo quality, thanks to higher pixel density, reduced noise and smaller pixel size.

Samsung’s tech is also said to employ “wafer-to-wafer” bonding, which attaches the three wafers to a copper pad. This reportedly eliminates the need for signal transferring bumps, which allows for increased data transfer speeds and a smaller image sensor. 

According to rumors the iPhone 16 will also get a resolution bump this year, offering the same 48MP camera as the iPhone 15 Pro. It’s also been suggested that the sensor itself will be larger — at 1/1.14 inches (0.87 inches), this should offer brighter and more colorful images.

The iPhone 16 Pro may also enjoy a higher resolution 48MP ultrawide angle camera, though the non-Pro models will reportedly leave this lens at 12MP for another year. The iPhone 16 Pro may also be benefitting from a tetraprism telephoto lens with 5x optical zoom, and all 4 models are said to be able to record spatial video for the Apple Vision Pro headset.

The iPhone 16 series is expected to launch sometime in the fall, during an Apple September event. Until then you can keep on top of all the latest news and rumors in our iPhone 16, iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max hubs.

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Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.