iPhone 12 Pro Cameras to Feature Sony LiDAR Scanners: REPORT

A new report from Fast Company says that both the 6.1 and 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro models will get Sony LiDAR scanners.

This means that both iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro Max will get the LiDAR scanner. Apple intends to use the same LiDAR scanner on these devices as it did on the 2020 iPad Pro that debuted earlier this year in March.

“This year’s iPhones will get the same kind of Sony lidar depth camera that Apple put in the 2020 iPad Pro it released in March, a source with knowledge of the company’s plans has told Fast Company,” reads the report.

The scanners will improve the camera’s autofocus and its ability to differentiate between background and foreground objects for Portrait mode. It also has augmented reality applications. Whilst the jury was out on just exactly which iPhones would get LiDAR, Fast Company says both Apple’s iPhone 12 ‘Pro’ models will get the treatment:

At the top of the line, a number of reports say, are two Pro-tier phones—a 6.1-inch device likely called the iPhone 12 Pro, and a 6.5-inch device likely called the iPhone 12 Pro Max. It’s these high-end devices that will feature the new lidar system, our source says.

Here’s how LiDAR works, according to the report:

The iPhone’s new lidar system will measure the distance of objects both close to the camera and far away. The system uses a “direct time-of-flight” approach, in which a Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Laser (VCSEL) sends out bursts of photons. They travel at the speed of light to deflect off of objects or surfaces within the camera’s view. Some of the photons bounce back to a small sensor housed near the camera. Software then uses the time of their round trip to derive the distance of the objects or surfaces from the camera lens. It’s very similar to the way radar works, only lidar uses laser light instead of radio waves.

The iPhones on the market today get some sense of distance by measuring differences in their various cameras’ perspectives on an object. Since that difference (called “parallax“) is larger in nearby objects and smaller in faraway ones, it’s possible to estimate the objects’ distance. The lidar system, on the other hand, is purpose-built to measure depth and can do so far more precisely.

Anticipated to launch either in September or October, the iPhone 12 range is thought to consist of four models, with the “iPhone 12” and “Max” versions expected to have 6.1-inch and 5.4-inch OLED displays, while the “iPhone 12 Pro” and “iPhone 12 Pro Max” will have 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch versions with 120Hz ProMotion support and a 10-bit color depth. Powered by a 5-nanometer A14 chip, the main feature of the new models is anticipated to be 5G connectivity.