New iPhones with essentially the same old camera?

The latest iPhones were announced today. It is tough to find the most critical information about the cameras, e.g., the sensor size. But from what has been announced it seems to me that Apple is using essentially the same sensors as in previous phones (i.e., smaller ones that what Sony and Samsung give consumers) but with increased downstream processing capabilities (i.e., trying to cheat physics, which even Elon Musk has trouble doing).

I still don’t get why an Android vendor doesn’t walk away with the 5 percent (?) slice of the market that is passionate about photography. Put in a 2/3″ or 1″ Fuji, Sony, or Toshiba sensor and crush all of the competition, albeit at the cost of some extra thickness (though maybe not thicker than an iPhone in a typical case).

Readers: What’s interesting about these new Apple phones, if anything?

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7 Comments

  1. J. Peterson

    September 12, 2018 @ 5:58 pm

    1

    Something with a 0.66 – 1″ sensor requires a corresponding size (and weight) lens. Samsung tried this a few years ago and it was flop. Nobody wants something that thick/heavy in their pocket everyday when the marginal improvement over tiny smartphone cameras is small for most snapshots.

  2. Brian

    September 12, 2018 @ 6:56 pm

    2

    > What’s interesting about these new Apple phones, if anything?

    It replaces this handy device:

    https://youtu.be/bQlpDiXPZHQ

  3. toucan sam

    September 12, 2018 @ 8:01 pm

    3

    no interest.

  4. Hooded Avenger

    September 12, 2018 @ 11:27 pm

    4

    Just because the overall sensor size is the same doesn’t necessarily mean that the pixel design is the same. Smaller per-pixel circuitry allows for a higher ratio of the pixel to be dedicated to photon capture, although there are obviously diminishing returns.

    The innovation in the processing pipeline can’t cheat physics but can use all sorts of tricks, most of which comes down to taking multiple photos and combining them in various ways to, e.g., increase dynamic range, decrease effective noise, etc.

    In the end I do agree that it’s surprising there is no photo-optimized phone from an Android vendor. Maybe the tradeoffs are too severe in order to get better photos than is possible from the major flagships.

  5. Richard

    September 13, 2018 @ 1:40 am

    5

    It’s the apps/accessories ecosystem that is very hard to replace.

  6. SimonV

    September 13, 2018 @ 2:50 am

    6

    Sony should incorporate instant uploading into their RX 100VII. Inovations in new cameras are dwafed compared to R&D (and marketing) of iPhones + Android and so are sales.

  7. Ron Raspmerrit

    September 14, 2018 @ 9:17 am

    7

    On the sensor size, you need a lens that projects an image whose diameter is equal to the diagonal of the sensor. The phone would have too be pretty thick for a larger lens or to allow space between the lens and sensor.

    You could alternatively ask, Why don’t they make cameras that are a quarter inch thick?.

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