It's seeming increasingly likelier with every emerging iPhone 2019 rumor that Apple will add a third camera to the iPhone XS' pair of rear-facing lenses when Cupertino reveals its next-generation flagship later this year.
While a trio of lenses should mean great things for photography, many mockup artists have predicted it will manifest itself in the form of a monstrosity of a camera module on the new iPhone. However, it seems Apple could be at least working to mitigate that eyesore.
According to a report from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, relayed by 9to5Mac, Apple will add the third camera — a 12-megapixel ultrawide lens — to both the 5.8- and 6.5-inch replacements to the iPhone XS and XS Max. But it'll also attempt to conceal the visibility of that lens using a special dark coating. And it'll reportedly use that same coating to shield the new 12-megapixel front-facing camera from view as well.
While it's easy to understand why Apple would want to cover up some of the iPhone's extra lenses, it's hard to envision that such a visual trick would actually make the new devices look all that much better.
Based on renders we've seen thus far, Apple may cram all three lenses on the back, as well as the flash, into a rounded rectangle not unlike an app icon. If the housing still takes the form of a massive square bump, what difference will it make if the extra lens inside is visible or not?
In a way, such a decision would arguably be at odds with Apple's controversial choice to go with the notch in the iPhone X. When that device launched, Apple never tried to hide the presence of that design element; in fact, the company was able to very artfully spin the notch into a visual signifier for the iPhone X's advanced True Depth camera system, as well as Face ID. By leaning into the notch and all the technology behind it, Apple was able to make the case the the iPhone X was better off for it, no matter how you thought of it from an industrial design standpoint.
Even if the triple-lens setup on the back of this year's new iPhone ends up looking particularly gruesome, you'd expect Apple to take a similar tack and advertise those three cameras prominently, as a physical suggestion of the device's photography prowess.
Then again, it's quite possible that the new iPhone's camera module won't look like we think it will — it could be pill-shaped, like the Huawei P30 Pro's system, for example. We'll have to wait and see, but regardless, it'll be interesting to discover how Apple tries to make this potential mess of cameras work from an aesthetic standpoint.