iPhones could get major camera upgrade in 2019: Will it be enough?

Apple iPhone XS Max (left) placed beside the iPhone XR (right).
Apple iPhone XS Max (left) placed beside the iPhone XR (right). KVN Rohit/IBTimes India

Apple is fighting tooth and nail to hold its position in the big league, but the iPhone XS-series did little to contribute. The 2018 iPhones certainly impressed many with its redesigned form-factor and incremental upgrades, but the expensive price tags couldn't justify the purchase for some, forcing them to stick to existing models or go with the cheaper iPhone XR. Apple needs the 2019 iPhones to do some damage control and it looks like it might have just the thing that will impress the masses.

The camera is the single most selling point in smartphones these days, so much that companies are willing to go far and beyond to bring unparalleled possibilities to smartphone cameras. Most recently, Huawei did the unimaginable when it launched the P30 Pro with an incredible quad-camera setup capable of shooting the moon in the best clarity possible with a phone and also taking excellent photos in low-light conditions. Huawei P30 Pro has achieved the highest order of appreciation from both consumers and critics alike, setting the benchmark really high for rivals Samsung and Apple.

With all eyes on Apple's 2019 iPhones, there are high hopes attached to the highly valued brand that prides on delivering nothing but the best premium phones. The 2019 iPhones, also known by some as iPhone 11, will naturally come with upgraded cameras to compete in the stringent race against Samsung and Huawei. But will it succeed is a million dollar question.

Apple's most-trusted analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo, noted in his research note to investors, that Apple's 2019 iPhones will see the biggest camera upgrade to date, MacRumors reported. Since it is common knowledge by now that there will be three iPhones launching in September this year, Kuo predicts the selfie camera upgrade will be the headline feature as it will ditch the 7MP sensor for a 12MP lens on the front. Selfies on iPhones have always been pleasant, and it's good to see a 12MP upgraded lens taking that experience to a new level.

While there hasn't been any shortage of rumours about the new iPhones, Kuo has some new information about the camera upgrade. The rear cameras on the two premium iPhones with 6.5-inch OLED and 5.8-inch OLED screens will boast triple lenses on the back combining a 12MP telephoto lens, a 12MP wide-angle lens with 2x zoom and another 12MP super-wide-angle lens by Sony. This squashes any rumours that the 2019 iPhones could sport a Time of Flight (ToF) lens like seen on Huawei P30 Pro.

Huawei P30 Pro, on the other hand, supports 5x optical zoom, 10x hybrid zoom and 50x digital zoom, making it the most capable smartphone when it comes to zooming into the subject (like the moon). Apple doesn't seem to be working on anything to go beyond the 2x optical zoom at the moment. Another area Apple needs to focus is on the low-light performance of its iPhones, which has become a golden standard for testing flagships after Huawei and Google changed people's perception about smartphones' low-light capabilities.

Kuo stresses that the new super-wide-angle lens on the back and the 12MP front sensor on the new iPhones will adopt "black lens-coating technologies," which will make the lenses look "inconspicuous."

"We forecast the camera upgrade will be one of the new 2H19 iPhone's major selling points. Critical spec upgrades are as follows. (1) Rear cameras of 6.5-inch OLED, 5.8-inch OLED, and 6.1-inch LCD will likely upgrade to triple-camera and dual-camera, respectively. A super-wide camera will be newly adopted by the triple-camera system, which is equipped with the 12MP/1um CIS provided exclusively by Sony. (2) The front camera of all three new iPhone models will likely upgrade to 12MP CIS+5P lens (vs. current 7MP CIS+4P lens)," Kuo predicted.

The super-wide-angle lens integration is a smart choice, as the trend has picked up in premium phones in the past year or so. Apple levelling with the competition shows it is seriously pitching its best argument.

Even though the cameras are largely improving on the premium iPhones, Kuo suggests the iPhone XR successor will also get an upgrade from a single 12MP rear camera to dual cameras. It remains to be seen if these camera upgrades will change the prospects of sales for Apple in 2019 and 2020.