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New iPhone 13 leak may reveal a big camera upgrade for all four models

Published May 27th, 2021 3:32PM EDT
iPhone 13 Rumors
Image: YouTube

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Mid-April brought a steady stream of iPhone 13 design leaks from sources who had access to purported schematics, including 3D-printed mockups based on those designs. All four unconfirmed iPhone 13 designs leaked in a matter of days, painting the same overall picture: the new iPhones will look just like their predecessors. We’re talking about the same flat-screen, flat-edged design that the iPhone 12 series introduced. But all iPhone 13 models will feature a few notable changes. The iPhone 13 handset will be slightly thicker, and it’ll feature enlarged rear camera modules and thicker cameras. Several reports have also said that the iPhone 13 notch will be smaller than the one on the iPhone 12 series.

The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini leaks also indicated that Apple plans to rearrange the rear cameras, going from a vertical placement to a diagonal arrangement for the non-Pro models. This prompted speculation at the time that there might be a good reason for Apple to redesign the appearance of the rear camera. It’s not about cosmetics but rather improving functionality while also managing space constraints.

On top of all that, the iPhone 13 was already rumored to get a significant camera upgrade this year, and the redesign supported that notion. Fast-forward to today, and a potential supply chain leak further reinforces those rumors.

Taiwanese blog Digitimes has already penned several reports about Apple’s purported moves in Asia related to iPhone 13 manufacturing. One of the latest rumors says that iPhones are about to beat Android handsets when it comes to VCM demand.

iPhone 13 mini mocked up in 3D renders. Image source: SvetApple

VCM is short for voice coil motor, with the report saying that VCM shipments should start picking up in late June and outstrip Androids by sometime in July. The report also mentions the key camera upgrade that’s supposedly coming to all iPhone 13 models to necessitate those new VCMs. According to the blog’s sources, the sensor-shift optical image stabilization (OIS) that was an iPhone 12 Pro Max exclusive last year will be a key addition to all the new iPhone 13 models in 2021.

The VCM makers mainly deliver shipments for Android handsets in the first half of the year, but such shipments are expected to be surpassed by those for iPhones in the second half, given that all new iPhones will feature the sensor-shift OIS (optical image stabilization) function, the sources said, adding that the makers have been told to raise capacity by 30-40% to meet strong demand for iPhones.

Currently, only iPhone 12 Pro Max adopts sensor-shift OIS technology, and demand for VCMs to support the function will grow 3-4 folds after all new iPhones incorporate the capability, the sources said.

The sensor-shift OIS cameras are much larger than regular cameras, which is why the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s primary camera — the one that features sensor-shift OIS — is placed on the bottom in the triple-lens rear module as seen below.

iPhone 12 Pro Max Camera
X-ray image shows the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s three rear cameras: telephoto (top left), ultra-wide-angle (right), and wide-angle (bottom left). The wide lens features sensor-shift OIS tech. Image source: iFixit

The previous design leaks suggested that Apple might go for a diagonal camera design on iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13 to make room for the larger sensor-shift OIS camera components. This new leak seems to reaffirm that notion. Digitimes doesn’t say anything about the iPhone 13 camera design changes, but the report seems to corroborate previous rumors that all iPhone 13 phones will feature the same advanced OIS tech as the iPhone 12 Pro Max. That said, Digitimes isn’t always accurate when it comes to predicting Apple’s plans for new iPhones.

The following clip revisits Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro Max camera segment from last October’s iPhone 12 event:

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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