Apple's next-generation 3D iPhone camera could 'reinvent the user experience'


Apple is developing a new camera with "3D sensing and modeling capabilities" to be included in a new redesigned iPhone expected to launch later this year.


The production of a new, redesigned iPhone with the 3D camera is "expected to begin in September," according to new research from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo seen by Business Insider.

Kuo writes:

After 1-2 years spent on related-component R&D, OLED iPhone to feature proprietary 3D camera system; three modules of 3D camera system to be calibrated precisely via active alignment. In keeping with Apple's stringent quality standards, we believe: (1) related optical components, including VCSEL, DOE, wafer-level lens and filter for IR transmitting module, and CIS, filter and lens of IR receiver module have all been custom-designed in collaboration with suppliers; and (2) calibration of front camera, IR transmitting and IR receiving modules via active alignment is required in order to allow the 3D camera system to operate precisely.

To translate from analyst speak, Kuo is saying that the 3D camera system is so complicated and has been in development so long that he believes the design that Apple's factories currently have is locked down and unlikely to change before the next-generation iPhone launches.


In a note earlier this week, Kuo detailed what he's heard about the iPhone 3D camera system.

One application could be for games to show the user's face in the place of a character. Other applications include facial recognition.

Ultimately, Kuo writes that Apple may be looking to diversify its suppliers for the complicated camera module, so it gets better prices by playing competitors off each other. But the suppliers he's heard from say the 3D camera has been locked down - so suppliers that might be able to sell components to Apple, like Himax, probably won't until next year.

Here's his breakdown of the technologies involved:


KGI Securities


Here are some other rumors we've been hearing about the "iPhone 8," a redesigned model expected to launch this fall:

  • Apple could sell a model with a 5.8-inch wraparound screen, with no borders or bezels, using OLED display technology, which enables darker blacks and better power consumption.
  • The construction of the iPhone 8 could be glass and stainless steel.
  • The home button could be integrated with the screen.
  • It could include wireless charging, allowing it to power up without plugging in a cable.
  • It won't have a headphone jack.
  • It could cost more than $1,000.