Sensor-shift stabilisation rumored for iPhone 12 Pro Max

The top-end 2020 iPhone is reportedly getting a larger camera sensor and sensor-shift stabilization in place of the current lens-based optical image stabilization. This would, in today’s nomenclature, be the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

We first saw a report of the sensor-based stabilization system in December of last year. The Digitimes report didn’t have specifics on models, but a new note from reliable Apple analyst Ming Chi-Kuo says that it will be limited to the top-end iPhone …

Kuo says that the top-end 6.7-inch model will get a new camera module for the wide-angle lens, known as the 7P. This will have a 1/1.9″ sensor – up from 1/3.6″ in the iPhone 11 Pro – as well as sensor-shift tech.

The note has no changes to the previously predicted line-up:

  • 5.4-inch OLED (dual camera)
  • 6.1-inch OLED (dual camera)
  • 6.1-inch OLED iPhone (triple camera with Time Of Flight sensor)
  • 6.7-inch OLED iPhone (triple camera with Time Of Flight sensor)

This is consistent with our own discovery in the iOS 14 code pointing to TOF sensors in the top two models.

Sensor-shift stabilization systems typically support five-axis correction:

  • Pitch (vertical rotation up or down)
  • Yaw (horizontal rotation left or right)
  • Vertical translation (up or down shift without rotation)
  • Horizontal translation (left or right shift without rotation)
  • Roll (one side dipping)

Sensor size is potentially the bigger news here, however. This has the greatest impact on image quality, especially when it comes to low-light photography. The larger the sensor, the less noise in the image.

Pixel density is another factor here. The more pixels you cram into a given sensor size, the worse the noise problem. This is the reason Apple hasn’t followed the example of some Android manufacturers who have chased headline news of large megapixel counts, but has instead concentrated on maximizing image quality.

Unsurprisingly, Kuo suggests this improved camera tech will filter down to other models next year. He also suggests that the telephoto lens will be next to benefit from sensor-shift stabilization.

Image: Technizo. Thanks, Eric.

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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