iPhone 6 Camera Could Take ‘Super-Resolution’ Photos

Apple appears to be putting great thought into the iPhone's camera. A new patent published today (May 8) by the US Patent & Trademark Office shows the electronics giant is developing "super-resolution based on optical image stabilization."

Optical Image Stabilization (or OIS) typically steadies an image projected on a camera's sensor by changing the optical path to the sensor in response to detected movement of the device before the image is converted into digital information. This means that if your hands are shaking as you press the shutter, the processor will compensate for your movement by detecting the direction in which you moved and correcting for that.

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According to notes in the patent filing, the camera could repeat the OIS process and make use of the multiple optical paths to capture several images from a variety of reference paths and combine them to form one super-resolution image.

In one of the drawings submitted with the application, a Super Resolution Mode option is shown in a markup of the iOS camera app, above HDR and Panorama mode options. This evidence of integration adds weight to the possibility that this feature could come to the iPhone camera app soon.

Nokia and HTC already offer OIS in their Lumia and One smartphones, but Apple's new patent appears to use the technology to create sharper pictures than just steadying them.

The Cupertino-based company also appears to have more up its sleeve for the next iPhone's camera. We've already seen plenty of rumors suggesting the iPhone 6 may sport a split camera system that captures light and color data separately for higher-quality images while retaining a slim profile. It's also possible that the next-gen iPhone could support swappable lenses.

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Cherlynn Low

Cherlynn is Deputy Editor, Reviews at Engadget and also leads the site's Google reporting. She graduated with a Master’s in Journalism from Columbia University before joining Tom's Guide and its sister site LaptopMag as a staff writer, where she covered wearables, cameras, laptops, computers and smartphones, among many other subjects.