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Better iPhone zoom incoming: Apple is working on a folded camera lens

But you may have to wait a while…

iPhone 13 Pro camera system

We’ve come to expect a big boost in the iPhone‘s camera with each year’s release. Looking at camera comparisons, there’s usually a noticeable difference in the shots. But one thing that hasn’t changed much in the past few years is the iPhone’s zoom–until now.

A new patent filed to the US Patent & Trademark Office by Apple on February 17 shows the design for a brand new camera system. This camera system is specifically for a compacted group of zoom lenses, allowing the tech to be packed into a smaller footprint.

Image from Patently Apple

Essentially, the patent shows a folded lens system. While this may sound pretty technical, it’s much simpler than you may think. The system simply involves stacking multiple lenses, mirrors, and prisms into a small group.

In this group, the various elements interact with one another to magnify an image by varying amounts. This means you’ll be able to use the lenses to zoom in and out. While the lenses could be used in any device, the patent suggests Apple’s new camera system will be iPhone-sized (and presumably for the device).

This patent’s lens system includes at least three movable lens groups. This suggests that Apple could be working on making all three lenses on an iPhone capable of zoom. Bear in mind, this is just a patent to show Apple is working on the tech. Whether or not the camera system ever makes it to an iPhone, nobody can know for sure.

Apple’s patented camera system would work very similarly to the folded lens on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. The Android flagship can achieve up to 10X zoom through the lens, and then up to 100X zoom digitally. It’s a big step up from Apple’s 3X zoom.

This is definitely one patent we hope Apple brings to fruition, as an iPhone with 10X zoom capabilities will deliver next-level photos. Fingers crossed, eh.