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This article was published on November 30, 2020

The next iPhone may include a Samsung periscope lens

Creepers get ready

The next iPhone may include a Samsung periscope lens
Callum Booth
Story by

Callum Booth

Editor of Plugged by TNW

Callum is an Englishman in Amsterdam, but not in the way you're thinking. He's the Editor of Plugged, TNW's consumer tech vertical. He w Callum is an Englishman in Amsterdam, but not in the way you're thinking. He's the Editor of Plugged, TNW's consumer tech vertical. He writes about gear, gadgets, and apps — with a particular focus on Apple — and also makes the occasional odd video. Basically, he's halfway between an abrasive gadget nerd and thinky art boy.

The iPhone 12 is still fresh out the kitchen, but the rumor mill is already whirring about what’s coming next. And what’s on the menu? Well, we may be served a Samsung periscope lens.

I’ll drop the restaurant metaphor now, but that was fun while it lasted, wasn’t it? Anyway, back to it.

Digitimes reported that Apple is looking to improve the camera set-up of its next devices — and the way it wants to do this is by beefing up its phones’ zooming capabilities.

It appears though that rather than build this functionality by itself, Apple is looking to partner with South Korean companies in order to make it a reality. And, although nothing has been finalized, Apple may use a Samsung periscope lens.

Before we get carried away, it’s important to note that even if this deal goes ahead, there’s no indication this would appear in the iPhone 13. But, in my mind, there’s little doubt an optical zoom lens is on its way to Apple devices.

oppo periscope zoom
This is an example from Oppo showing how the periscope lenses on its phones work. One would expect the Samsung periscope lens to operate in a similar manner.

Apple takes a more measured approach to products building its products than many of its rivals. Rather than packing new iPhones with the latest technology, the company prefers to let the hardware in question mature before putting it into its devices.

This is why you rarely see any fresh tech from Apple. You know, things like foldable phones, pop-up selfie cameras, or under-screen fingerprint scanners.

The reason for this is two-fold. The first is it ensures that Apple only includes tried-and-tested technologies, which makes it devices more reliable. Secondly, it allows Apple to create a long-term roadmap, basically spreading out new features across upcoming devices. This helps each new iPhone to have selling points over its predecessors, but are rarely comprehensive enough to stop people upgrading again the year after.

It’s little surprise Apple is looking to include a Samsung periscope lens or other optical camera in its upcoming phones. This is not only a reliable and commonly-used bit of technology — take Huawei’s P range of phones as an example — but it would also offer many iPhone-owners a solid reason to upgrade.

Basically there are some things we don’t know: when Apple will release a phone with an optical zoom lens, or who it will work with to achieve this. But what we do know is, sooner or later, we’re going to get an iPhone with a much improved zoom function. And that’s worth getting excited about.

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