Apple has lately upped its efforts to secure periscope (or folded lens) camera modules for its upcoming iPhones to further enhance the optical zoom range. Noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has earlier predicted that 2022 is when the first iPhone(s) with a periscope camera will hit the shelves. Now, another report from South Korea based The Elec notes that Apple is looking to sort out the supply issues for sourcing periscope camera modules, but it might take until 2023 for them to actually appear on an iPhone.
Apple is yet to apply this technology and is expected to do so between 2022 to 2023: The Elec
However, we’ve come across at least two reports in the last few weeks claiming that the switch to a periscope-style zoom lens from a traditional telephoto lens on iPhones will happen in 2022. The iPhone 12 Pro Max currently maxes out at 5x optical zoom, so Apple will most likely offer a major upgrade over that figure by adopting the periscope-style telephoto camera in its successor that comes out in 2022 or even a year after that.
But in the meanwhile, Apple has to sort out some big supply chain issues. Samsung reportedly owns a host of crucial patents for periscope camera systems, with one key patent being the ball guide actuator that makes the folded lens system more accurate and efficient. Industry sources say that Samsung Electromechanics might not directly sell these modules to Apple due to fear of its own smartphones losing the competitive edge. Additionally, Apple doesn’t want to put a strain on its long-running partnership with LG InnoTek, since the latter has been supplying high-end camera modules to Apple for a while now.
However, Apple could find a way around this bottleneck by asking LG InnoTek to source the components from Samsung Electro-Mechanics. However, Apple would still need to hold talks with Samsung to iron out the deal somewhere down the line.
At this point in time, it would be too early to predict the range of optical zoom offered by the first-gen iPhones packing a periscope camera module. But Samsung has already achieved a 10x optical zoom output with the periscope camera system on the Galaxy S20 Ultra and will likely improve it further in the next couple of years. So, it can be safely assumed that Apple will likely aim higher as well, especially with two years on its hands to source the best components and further tuning them to get the best of this camera technology.