Apple could be playing an unfair game in allotting cameras to the upcoming iPhone 12

iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max
iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max Apple

When it comes to the best hardware specs in a smartphone, it's usually the top-tier flagships that get all the goodies, and that's exactly what seems to be the case with the next generation of Apple's iPhone. It seems Apple will be unfair to the iPhone 12 when it comes to cameras allotment once again.

According to a new report from 9to5Mac, it looks like only the Pro models in the upcoming iPhone 12 series, that is the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max, will be getting the new time-of-flight (ToF) 3D camera sensor.

iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max will get 3D ToF sensors

The Apple specialist website unearthed this evidence based on the iOS 14 code that corroborates the existence of new iPhone models, likely to be from the iPhone 12 series, which will use the same ToF sensor that Apple is said to be developing for the next generation iPad Pro.

The code seen by 9to5Mac has mentions of new devices that are identified by the codename d5x, which makes us speculate that the devices are probably the 2020 iPhones, since the 2019 iPhone 11 line-up was identified as d4x in the iOS 13 code. Only two of the new d5x models are listed with a ToF camera, which again highly suggests that it could be the higher iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max.

More cameras on the next iPhones

If the information turns out to be correct, the new camera setup on the upcoming iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max will include four cameras – a primary wide-angle lens, an ultra-wide lens, a telephoto lens and the new 3D time-of-flight sensor.

However, the new information doesn't seem very surprising as Apple has been reserving some of the best camera features for its top-end iPhone variants. Take for example, last year's iPhone 11 series where the higher-end iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max had the advantage of having an additional third camera which was a 12MP telephoto zoom lens, whereas the iPhone 11 got only a dual camera setup with a 12 MP primary and a 12 MP ultra wide camera.

Even before that, the iPhone XR got only a single primary 12MP sensor while the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max had an additional 12MP telephoto zoom sensor.

How will a ToF camera help the iPhone?

The addition of a 3D ToF sensor will change the way the iPhone camera does portrait mode and the new sensor will be lend itself to new augmented reality (AR) features. Apple is said to be developing a new AR app for iOS 14 and the ToF camera will definitely come in handy.

In the case of portrait photography, the iPhone currently uses a juxtaposition of its main and telephoto cameras to gauge depth, but the inclusion of a ToF sensor invalidated that technique as a ToF sensor uses an infrared projector, which is similar to the IR sensor in the front-facing TrueDepth selfie cameras present in the iPhone X and newer models. This IR projector lets the iPhone capture pony clouds in the environment and then generate a 3D model of them. In other words, the sensor created an accurate scene depth map.

Another advantage of having a 3D ToF sensor is when using the iPhone's Measure app, as it will enable accurate distance and measurement calculations without requiring the user to pan his phone around a space.

Trusted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo had in July 2019 suggested that two of the iPhones that will be introduced in 2020 will feature ToF sensors.

iPhone 9 aka iPhone SE2 will have a single rear camera

Additionally, 9to5Mac suggests that the iOS 14 code revealed that the upcoming iPhone 9 will feature a single rear camera that will be able to record stereo sound in videos. This feature was first introduced in the iPhone XS back in 2018, and a similar implementation called 'Ozo' audio is also used by Nokia on its nigh-end smartphones.