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iPhone 6 Camera May Have Bigger Pixels, Better Autofocus

Apple looks to be focusing on camera technology to help the iPhone 6 stand out. Several new reports point toward the next-gen iPhone sporting a shooter that will pack bigger pixels, faster autofocus and electronic image stabilization to snap better-looking photos.

Chinese analyst Sun Chang Xu of ESM (Electronic Supply & Manufacturing) China took to Weibo (China's Twitter) to share new details on the technology behind the rumored iPhone 6. Sun expects the iPhone 6's camera sensor will pack larger pixels (technically, photosites) measuring 1.75 microns, up from the 1.5 microns on the iPhone 5s.

MORE: iPhone 6 Rumors: Inside Apple's Next Big Thing

Bigger pixels allow cameras to capture more light, giving the photos more clarity and brightness (important when shooting at night). The HTC One's UltraPixel camera has photosites measuring 2.0 microns.

Sun also believes the new iPhone's camera will use electronic image stabilization instead of optical, which would let the smartphone retain its sleek size. Optical zoom would require a camera that protrudes from the iPhone's body.

Since Sun does not explain how she came upon the information in her short statements, we aren't completely certain of how likely it is we'll see 1.75-micron pixels in the iPhone 6. She has previously mentioned having supply chain sources familiar with the matter, which adds some weight to what she said.

Apple was granted a new patent today (Apr. 29) for a "MEMS autofocus actuator," that could make its future cameras even thinner. A micro electrical-mehanical system (MEMS) is a device manufactured on a silicon chip This could lead to an autofocusing system even smaller than today's tiny focusing motors make possible. Such a camera could also be more power efficient and even cheaper than today's models.

It isn't clear yet whether the MEMS autofocus system will make it into the upcoming iPhone, which many expect to be announced later this year. There has been a steady flow of rumors surrounding the iPhone 6's size (two models: 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch) and power button relocation, but many reports focus on improvements to its camera.

Follow Cherlynn Low at @CherlynnLow and on Google+. Follow Tom's Guide at @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.

Cherlynn is Reviews Editor at Engadget and was previously a staff writer at Tom's Guide, covering wearables, cameras and smartphones. In her spare time she enjoys devouring old episodes of Torchwood or The X-Files. Or taking selfies.