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Apple Patents Folding Camera Lens System for Future iPhones

  • Apple is researching a folding camera lens system for future iPhones that would allow for optical image stabilization and autofocus without a large camera bump.
  • The system could consist of two prisms, with a lens group of multiple elements between them, mounted and shifted by actuators.
  • Apple’s patent lists Nicholas D. Smyth, Alfred N. Mireault, Scott W. Miller, and Shashank Sharma as its inventors.

Apple has been exploring the idea of a folding camera lens system for future iPhones in order to allow for optical image stabilization and autofocus without a large camera bump. The system could consist of two prisms, with a lens group of multiple elements between them, mounted and shifted by actuators. According to a newly granted patent titled “Folded camera with actuator for moving optics,” the lens group could be held in an inner carrier structure connected to an outer carrier structure, both of which can be moved in different directions. This would allow for a range of focal lengths and angle changes.

The patent lists its inventors as Nicholas D. Smyth, Alfred N. Mireault, Scott W. Miller, and Shashank Sharma. It was originally filed on January 25, 2019. While the existence of the patent indicates areas of interest for Apple’s research and development purposes, it doesn’t guarantee the idea will appear in a future product or service. Apple also filed a patent on the same concept in July 2019. The August folded camera patent differs from the others as it largely handles the mechanics of mounting and moving the lens arrangements, rather than covering the basic idea of folded cameras itself.

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