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‘World-facing’ 3D camera to feature in premium iPhone in 2020

A new ‘world-facing’ 3D camera will feature in one of Apple’s new iPhone models in 2020, according to a new report that suggests that the company is ready to step up its augmented reality plans.

Talk of a new rear time-of-flight 3D camera being included in Apple’s flagship smartphones has been circulating for a while now, but the latest report reveals a few details that have not surfaced before.

The iPhone 12 series, expected to launch in Q3, will make use of vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSEL) to power a new 3D depth sensor, which promises to deliver better-quality photos and a slew of exciting AR experiences.

CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly stated that AR is the future for apps and mobile experiences, so it is no surprise that Apple has been working on new features for this year’s slate of phones.



The lasers, supplied by Lumentum, have already been used in a range of iPhone tech and features during the last three years.

The TrueDepth camera that debuted in the iPhone X, for example, makes use of them, as do FaceID and Portrait mode selfies.

The lasers were even included for proximity-sensing purposes in the AirPods and AirPods Pro.

The new time-of-flight system takes things a step further though as it uses a more advanced laser.

This allows it to provide more accurate depth perception when compared to TrueDepth and places virtual objects in more realistic spots.

The laser will also optimise capture depth for better-quality photos.

Rumours suggest that two premium iPhones will get the tech this year, presumably the equivalent of the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max.

It won’t feature in more budget-focused models.

Apple is also expected to release an AR app when iOS 14 rolls out later this year.

The app will serve up information about a user’s surroundings and will offer information when a phone is pointed at products in Apple Stores, for example.

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