A report earlier this week claimed that the iPhone X Plus, the 6.5-inch iPhone X successor expected to launch this fall alongside two new other iPhones, will feature a triple-lens camera on the back, similar to the Huawei P20 Pro (above). At the time, we told you that’s just a mistake, as Forbes likely misinterpreted the supposedly leaked schematics it presented.
Previous reports did say that the Galaxy S10 and iPhone X Plus will have three cameras on the back by the time they launch in 2019, and now we have more evidence to support that claim.
Without naming any customers, Largan Precision CEO Lin En-ping told reporters that the company is likely to begin large-volume shipments of 7P (seven plastic lens pieces) cameras next year, as well as 5P periscope modules, according to Digitimes.
He also said that while the global smartphone market is approaching saturation, the global demand for smartphone camera lens modules will not decrease and that more smartphones will be equipped with three or more lenses next year.
Lin added that G+P (glass and plastic) lens hybrids make more sense for automotive and outdoor cameras than smartphones. Largan is also involved in 3D lens modules manufacturing, and will make 3D lens modules using plastic, Lin said, which will be cheaper to produce than modules based on semiconductor process.
Largan plans to expand production capacity and is looking to find a location for a factory twice as big as its existing sites in Taiwan, the CEO said. The company will also continue to hire engineers, Lin added.
Why is this evidence that this year’s iPhones will not feature triple-lens cameras? Well, Largan happens to be a significant supplier of lens modules for iPhones. Given Lin’s remarks, it’s likely that triple-lens modules will have 7P designs, and these components are coming next year.
Furthermore, a report from respected Apple insider Ming-Chi Kuo said back in November that the 2018 iPhone X will pack the same 6P lens camera design as the original model, as Apple wants to prevent any launch delays caused by potential supply issues.
“With its rear camera specs, iPhone X has managed to strike a phenomenal balance between picture quality and form factor design, in our opinion, given how far we’ve come today technologically,” the analyst said at the time. “Switching from a 6P lens to a 7P lens or a 2G3P hybrid lens, with camera module design largely similar to iPhone X’s, would make for only limited improvements in aperture performance, we believe.”
I think that whenever Apple moves from 6P to 7P lens technology, it might also increase the number of cameras on the Plus model to differentiate it from the others. From a supply chain point of view, it doesn’t make sense to go for 6P triple-lens cameras this year, and then upgrade everything to 7P triple-lenses next year. Especially if 7P lens manufacturing will pose manufacturing difficulties to Largan and others.
That said, just because a phone has 7P lenses inside doesn’t mean it’ll have a dual or triple camera. As for those 5P periscope lenses that Lin mentioned, here’s what he’s talking about — Oppo is expected to soon launch a phone with 5X zoom, first seen at MWC 2017, made possible by the following camera setup: