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Apple is working on an amazing new camera system for future iPhones

iPhone Interchangeable Lens

The quality of photos captured using cameras in leading smartphones like Apple’s iPhone lineup has gotten very impressive over the past few years. As smartphones get thinner and pack more technology, however, there’s only so much vendors can do in that small amount of space. New technology Apple is currently developing will look to tackle the issue by moving some of the heavy lifting outside of the phone itself and into a series of lens attachments that could dramatically extend the iPhone camera’s capabilities.

A pair of patent applications unearthed by AppleInsider on Tuesday combine to describe a mechanism that would allow the cameras on future iPhones (probably not the iPhone 6, unfortunately) and other portable Apple devices to be enhanced by a series of lens attachments. The add-on lenses would fix to Apple’s iPhone or iPad using a series of magnets and an “alignment ridge” that would help ensure proper placement.

The patents covering the new system are patent No. 8,638,369, which describes a “back panel for a portable electronic device with different camera lens options.” and patent No. 8,639,106, which covers a “magnetic add-on lenses with alignment ridge.”

There are already a number of third-party camera lens attachments for the iPhone that extend the handset’s imaging capabilities in a variety of ways. Most solutions are very bulky, however, and some even require a special case to which the new lens attachments are fixed. As seen below, Apple’s solution would be far less cumbersome.

On the other hand, Apple’s solution would also require that the user remove any protective case that might be on the iPhone, unless it was specifically designed to leave space for Apple’s OEM lens attachments.

Zach Epstein

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content.

Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment. His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.