The Pro models of the iPhone 13 are supposed to get an ultra-wide-angle camera with autofocus. This could not only mean more creative freedom, but also a significant jump in camera quality. Why? Read on!
- The Apple iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max are said to get an ultra-wide-angle camera with autofocus.
- An autofocus speaks to a larger image sensor.
- Macro capability could also improve.
In about ten weeks, Apple will unveil the next generation of iPhones, and the headline number of leaks is increasing accordingly. Today: Ming-Chi Kuo predicts the Pro models of the iPhone 13 will have auto-focus for the ultra-wide-angle camera. This is more exciting than it may sound at first.
First, let’s take a look at the iPhone 12 Pro. Underneath the lens of the ultra-wide-angle camera is a really tiny sensor in 1/3.6-inch format with a crop factor of around 8.5. In order to achieve the equivalent focal length of 13 mm with this sensor, a real, optical focal length of just 1.54 mm is required.
Considering the aperture of F2.4, this results in a hyperfocal distance of just three centimeters. In other words, if the lens is set to a focus distance of three centimeters, everything up to infinity is sharp – and everything from two centimeters upwards. Do you need an autofocus here? No.
So what does this mean for the camera in the iPhone 13 Pro?
However, if the sensor behind the lens now grows in the iPhone 13 Pro, then a higher “real” focal length is required to maintain the same field of view as we’ve got in the iPhone 12 Pro. But higher focal lengths also mean a higher hyperfocal distance.
Example: If Apple were to roughly double the sensor diagonal with a 1/1.7-inch sensor, the crop factor would be around 4.3. For an equivalent focal length of 13mm, we would then need a real 3.0 mm for the lens. With F2.4, that again would mean a hyperfocal distance of 13 cm. The closest focusing distance would then be seven centimeters.
In practice, manufacturers do not set the fixed focus in lenses directly to the hyperfocal distance, but leave some leeway here – in the case of the iPhone 12 Pro even significantly. Here, the closest focusing distance is already around ten centimeters, which a larger sensor would push even further back.
And finally, the macro capabilities of the iPhone 13 Pro would of course also benefit from an autofocus. So yeah, that’s hopefully one less smartphone touting a bullshit 2-megapixel macro sensor as the hottest shit.
tl;dr: An autofocus in the ultra-wide-angle module suggests the sensor in the iPhone 13 Pro is growing. A bigger sensor means better image quality, especially in the dark or with high-contrast environments. This would be Apple’s response to the trend towards better and better ultra-wide-angle cameras, as we’ve seen in the Oppo Find X3 Pro.