iPhone 14 shows that Apple will perfect every part instead of betting on miracle solutions

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Time flies and you may not even realize it, but we are only three months away from the iPhone 14 series expected to launch in September 2022.

Apple is gearing up for the launch of four iPhone 14 models, with the mini model being replaced by a Max-sized iPhone, while the other three versions remain intact.

And while the list of new features is pretty long, there’s one leaked upgrade that we keep hearing about that came as a bit of a surprise to me: a brand new front-facing camera shared by all four new models.

Why is it surprising? Well, for starters, the camera on the iPhone is pretty good already, but we also hear constant news about Android phone makers switching to front cameras that are hidden under the screen, aka completely invisible, while Apple is just… doubling up. on a traditional front camera? “Boring!” I can almost hear the crowd screaming. And also not in line with the rest of the industry leading us into the future, right? Not only that, this new front camera is going to be the most expensive ever used on an iPhone!

So what is this movement about? And what does it tell us about Apple? Let’s try to understand it by looking at the…

Evolution of iPhone front camera

I completely forgot that the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s had a… pathetic 0.3MP front camera! VGA?! Times were different.

But that’s not even the worst: the iPhone 3GS and earlier models didn’t even have a front camera at all! Now it’s become such an essential smartphone element that it’s hard to imagine a phone didn’t even have a decade ago!

And as you can see, we’ve seen quite the evolution in those iPhone front cameras. We started with a mediocre 1.2MP selfie shooter on the iPhone 6 (720p video only) to the new 12MP front shooter used since the iPhone 11 (with nice 4K video).

So what now? 8K on the selfie camera? It’s possible, but that sounds like an overkill.

Why front cameras are important

At the same time, we need to realize that front cameras matter. There’s still the feeling of the past that front-facing cameras are just for vain selfies and you should almost feel guilty using them. But the reality is different: For a large number of people, front-facing cameras are essential.

TikTokers, YouTubers, even a simple video call… On a recent hike, I vlogging exclusively on the iPhone 13 Pro’s front camera and appreciated the movie mode support for the front camera, turning those images into something which looked almost as if it had been captured on a full-size DSLR with a nice creamy bokeh.

Not only that, a front camera is of course essential for video conferencing, and we all know how important that is when you’re working from home.

Like it or not, the front camera is becoming more and more important and used more than ever, and it only makes sense that Apple is investing in improving it.

the upgrades

So what do we know about the new iPhone 14’s front-facing camera?

We know it’s going to cost Apple quite a bit more… up to three times more, if you care about details! This is a major cost increase, so much so that some argue that Apple now internally categorizes this system as a “high-end” component!

Apple is said to have selected the Korean company LG Innotek to supply the new camera along with Sharp from Japan. The reason for switching to a Korean manufacturer from previous Chinese suppliers is precisely because of that “high-end” classification and Apple’s demands for quality with that category.

Consistent with Cinematic Mode strategy

Not only that, but the new autofocus system is a perfect match for two features that Apple has made popular in smartphones and sees as its own favorites: portrait mode for photos and cinematic mode for videos.

The new autofocus system with a wider aperture creates a more pronounced “bokeh” effect and naturally enhances your portrait and cinematic shots just because of its physical properties.

And one thing we know about Apple is that it has been taking new features for a long time, gradually improving them generation after generation, and this is a major improvement towards making two features that Apple has brought into the mainstream like portrait and cinematic modes .

Under Display (UD) front cameras

Last but not least, we have to mention the UD front cameras. With a camera below the screen, it’s hidden so you have a true edge-to-edge screen with no interruptions. It’s a lucrative prospect.

However, the technology is still in its infancy and there are problems. The The Galaxy Z Fold series is the only mainstream phone with the tech that comes to mind, and while the camera is below the display, it’s not exactly invisible, as you can clearly see a series of pixels in place.
The newly launched ZTE Axon 40 Ultra does better in that regard and hides the camera masterfully so you get a true edge-to-edge display. The image quality – although better than the first generation of those cameras – remains just “reasonable”, but certainly not good.

You know what else is in common between the Z Fold 3 and the ZTE Axon 40 Ultra? Yes, the compromises they both make in terms of the quality of those cameras, but also that they’re both niche devices that will be sold in small numbers. Imagine if Apple has to sell tens of millions of iPhones with this new technology that is rough around the edges. Yes, Apple is and will be late to the party, but that’s one of the shortcomings when you have such massive scale.

Final Thoughts

We’re sure Apple is investigating under-image cameras, but its reluctance to experiment with them tells us even more.

It tells us that Apple will not bet its most popular product, which sells in tens of millions of units, on an unproven, experimental technology. It’s just how things are when you’re at that scale.

But it also tells us that Apple won’t overlook any part, not even something that is “good enough” by many standards. Investing three times more in a better front camera isn’t something users just asked for from the company, but it does. Perfecting every part rather than jumping on the hype train of every new technology that will quickly turn it into a profit. And that may be exactly what makes the iPhone so successful.

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