The new iPhone 12 may well delay its finish, but is still expected to land this year – meaning we’ve got some exciting new camera features to look forward to soon.
Can the iPhone 12 Series possibly repeat the same leap as the iPhone 11 Pro? This is a tall order, a big (and necessary) step for last year’s iPhones for Apple’s Photo Smart.
We got some better smart HDR, an excellent new night mode, and more versatile camera hardware, including a new ultra-wide lens with a 120-degree field.
Nevertheless, in many ways, there was a slight decline in naming the ‘Pro’ versions of the iPhone 11 to their name, at least from a photographic point of view. And now the Huawei P40 Pro has captured the top spot from the iPhone 11 Pro in our Best Camera Phone Guide.
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So why does the iPhone 12 need to occupy the number one position? The strongest rumors so far point to the addition of a LiDAR scanner, an intensive-sensing system that Apple recently debuted on the iPad Pro 2020.
But that system is designed more for AR than photography, given that its resolution is not enough to help with portrait mode. This means we’re more excited about fulfilling our growing desire for Apple’s iPhone 12 camera features – collectively, a lot of this would make it a better photographic companion.
Here are seven camera features we want to see in the iPhone 12 series.
A bright lens for an ultra-wide camera
The iPhone 11 brought an ultra-wide camera for Apple’s smartphones for the first time and is a great new addition. In fact, its 13mm equivalent focal length is so wide, when you accidentally put your hand in the shot, it requires an almost automatic ‘finger removal’ tool.
But with a relatively slow f / 2.4 lens and small 1 / 3.6in sensor, the ultra-wide is also a poor cousin of the iPhone 11 camera family. We want it to get a great maximum aperture on the iPhone 12 – for example, the f / 1.8 lens seen in the Huawei P40 Pro’s ultra-wide – to help it perform better in low-light conditions. and also even get Night Mode in this, which is currently reserved for the main wide camera.
An improved hybrid zoom system
Both the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max has a telephoto camera, which you don’t find on the standard iPhone 11. But its 2x optical zoom has a slight drawback on rivals like the Huawei P40 Pro (5x optical zoom) and Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra (10x hybrid zoom), which is our current zoom champion.
Smartphone cameras use various technologies to boost their zoom. The Galaxy S20 Ultra, for example, uses a folded periscope lens to reach 4x optical zoom, followed by a combination of cropping and pixel binning to reach a ‘lossless’ 10x hybrid zoom.
From the latest rumors, it seems unlikely that the iPhone 12 will have a periscope lens. But we would like to see that its telephoto camera includes the equivalent of the ‘Super Race Zoom’ system seen in Google Pixel 4. It enhances detail and reduces noise to useful levels of zoom (3x, 5x, and 10x) beyond its 52mm focal length.
The camera app has some real ‘pro’ features
Apple treats its default camera app as a point-and-shoot camera experience and leaves more professional manual control to third-party apps. But we think there are some features that can make a big difference without closing its interface.
The main ‘Raw’ is an option for shooting. It is available in an app like Halide, but we would love to be able to shoot ‘RAW + HEIC’ in the camera app, giving us the option to create our own tweak when the smart HDR goes overboard on the sharping algorithm. Ultra-wide camera support would also be great to watch on RAW shooting.
Elsewhere, we prefer a built-in spirit level so that you can see how the level of your shot is, which would be particularly useful for ultra-wide cameras. And along
A video portrait mode (which actually works)
Smartphone cameras are still capable of some impressive bokeh simulations for stills, but the video is another challenge altogether. Samsung has recently tried on phones like the Galaxy Note 10 Plus with its ‘Live Focus Video’ mode, but it is an inconsistent gimmick right now.
This is because simulated background blur is much harder to obtain than video. Objects too close to the camera will have some natural shallow field depth, but beyond that, your phone needs to apply a mask to the subject and blur on each frame while you walk around.
This is certainly a major technical challenge, but perhaps an iPhone 12 LiDAR scanner can supply some additional information to help here, even if it is too low resolution to work on its own. Until phones like the iPhone 12 can solve it, cameras like the Sony ZV-1 will remain high on our best vlogging camera list for YouTubers.
A more versatile night mode
The arrival of Night Mode on the iPhone 11 series was actually very welcome, and we’re fans of Apple’s natural-looking feature implementation. But this does not mean that there is no room for improvement.
First of all, it would be great to see the Night Mode available in all of the iPhone 12 cameras. Right now, it is only available on wide 26mm cameras. Although it appears to work occasionally on telephoto cameras, some photographers found it to be secretly switching to a ‘wide’ camera and digitally cropping the image.
We would love to see night mode available on all three lenses of the iPhone 12 without any trickery, it would be nice to have the option of manually triggering the mode instead of waiting automatically. Kick in, but it seems an unexpected move for Apple.
Slightly higher resolution (but not too much)
So far, Apple has resisted the temptation to embrace the high-resolution sensors used by the likes of Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and Huawei 4040 Pro. iPhone 12 main camera may be good to get a 16MP sensor
This additional resolution can come in handy when cutting out details from images, without disturbing the iPhone 12 camera’s display or image processing pipeline.
High-resolution sensors, like the 108MP camera on the Galaxy S20 Ultra, can come with a downside like the lack of dual pixel autofocus, but we would consider 16MP to be a good sweet spot for the iPhone 12.
Unlimited photo storage in iCloud
One of the best features of Google Photos is that it lets you store an unlimited number of 16MP snaps and 1080p videos. And while Google Pixel 4 and Google Pixel 4 XL have sadly not expanded all the photos to ‘original resolution’ for their owners, it’s still better than Apple’s free offerings with iCloud.
Right now, you still get a palette of only 5GB of free storage with iCloud, after which you will pay a small fee of 50GB or more for options up to 2TB. Of course, you can still backup all your snacks with Google Photos, which works perfectly with iPhones.
But it would be a lot more intuitive, especially for those who return their phones to iCloud, all in one place – and with the camera likely to be such an important part of the iPhone 12, free photos in iCloud There will be storage. It would be a big, easy win for Apple.