This year’s new iPhones are expected to come with a significant camera upgrade.
According to a report published by ET News, Apple is sourcing a new “high-end” front camera module from LG Innotek (South Korea) and Sharp (Japan). Tipped to appear in this year’s iPhone 14, the new selfie camera is expected to bring improved features, including autofocus capability, at a unit price that has “risen nearly three times” compared to previous models.
Why add autofocus?
The news hints at a significant upgrade in selfie performance as autofocus is an expensive upgrade that only becomes necessary when larger image sensors and/or wider apertures are used.
Both of these features significantly improve image quality but also reduce the amount of the frame that can be in focus at any one time, hence the requirement for an accurate autofocus system. If Apple were to retain the remaining front-camera specs of the iPhone 13, an autofocus upgrade would offer no advantage.
This backs up previous claims by the well-regarded analyst Ming-Chi Kuo who expects all iPhone 14 models to come with an upgraded selfie camera featuring autofocus and a wider f/1.9 aperture (vs f/2.2 on the iPhone 13).
Autofocus lenses are not only more expensive and harder to make than fixed focus ones, they can also make it harder to get the photos you want in some circumstances.
An autofocus lens lets the camera choose which parts of the photo should be in focus, but may not be able to make everything in the picture sharp at the same time. We can see this in effect when taking a look at Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra which features an autofocus selfie camera..
While it scores slightly higher overall than Apple’s iPhone 13 Pro in Dxomark’s selfie tests and is praised in particular for its pleasant bokeh effects, Samsung’s lens design does occasionally put it at a disadvantage. Dxomark’s report says of the Galaxy S22 Ultra that “background subjects in group shots tend to be slightly out of focus” where they are sharp in similar images shot with an iPhone 13 Pro.
However, If Apple gets this one right, we should expect a noticeable improvement in overall quality from the selfie camera when the iPhone 14 is released later this year.
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