Noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is out with a new report today in which he suggests that the 2021 iPhone models are likely to outsell the iPhone 12.
Kuo suggests that this will in part be due to ‘significant’ improvements to the ultra-wide camera on next year’s models …
Three ultra-wide camera improvements
Supply-chain sources suggest that Apple plans three improvements to the ultra-wide camera on next year’s Pro models over this year.
First, he expects the aperture to be widened from f/2.4 to f/1.8. All other things being equal, that would let in more than twice as much light, significantly improving the low-light performance. In particular, it should allow for sharper and cleaner night shots.
Second, sources indicate that the number of elements in the lens will be increased from five to six. There are pros and cons to adding elements to a lens, but when a manufacturer takes an existing lens design and adds elements, this is generally done to reduce distortion, which is especially important in wide-angle lenses.
Finally, he expect the ultra-wide lens to get auto-focus for the first time. The current ultra-wide lens is fixed-focus. This might sound surprising, but isn’t generally a huge issue in very wide-angle lenses as they are mostly used for landscapes and cityscapes, where everything in shot is far enough away to be in focus. However, switching to auto-focus will be useful for closer wide-angle shots.
Other advantages for the 2021 iPhone models
Additionally, Kuo believes that there are two broader reasons to be more optimistic about next year’s sales.
A (hopeful) end to the coronavirus crisis should mean fewer production challenges. Apple CEO Tim Cook commented in last month’s earnings call that supply constraints are limiting sales of a number of core Apple products. A more recent report has suggested that iPhone 12 Pro production is being hit by shortages of power management chips.
Finally, Kuo believes that demand for 5G iPhones will be higher by next year, once more infrastructure is in place. Right now, 5G coverage is extremely patchy, so inclusion of the faster mobile standards doesn’t, in many people’s eyes, provide a compelling reason to upgrade.