Another rumor suggests once again that the Pro models of the iPhone 14 will feature a 48MP camera when they arrive this fall. And that suggests that the number of megapixels is important again.
This piece of information about Apple’s iPhone 14 plans comes from the Taiwanese team of analysts TrendForce, which has the iPhone 14 Pro programmed to get a megapixel boost for its main rear camera. And TrendForce is only the latest to make this claim, as similar rumors date back to last April.
Since 2015, every main camera on the iPhone has been equipped with a 12MP camera, so if this rumor is legitimate, we could see a noticeable improvement in the sensor.
You may raise an eyebrow here, as for some time now, megapixels have not been a strong indicator of smartphone camera performance. After all, the 12 MP camera on the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max ranks high on our list of best camera phones, beating out the 108 MP camera on the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.
Much of this comes down to computational photography and image signal processing, which add a layer of smart photo construction behind the cameras of phones and provide impressive shots by stitching multiple photos into one.
Apple also has its Semantic Rendering, a feature that first debuted on the iPhone 11, to go a step further. Using Deep Fusion AI technology in Apple’s latest A-series Bionic chips, this approach can identify different segments of a photo, for example someone’s hair, skin, or eyebrows, and apply settings from individual photos of each of them instead of the photo as a whole. You can think of this almost as if a photo editor is adjusting your shots in real time, with very impressive results.
But iPhones are not alone in using powerful computational photography. Google’s Pixel phones also set a high watermark for what intelligent image processing can offer. As such, raw megapixel counts don’t always lead to better photos.
However, there is a wind of change here. Samsung has the aforementioned 108MP main camera on the Galaxy S21 Ultra, and the Galaxy S22 is leaning to use the 50MP main camera for both its standard and Plus models when those phones arrive next month or so. And Google finally increased the number of megapixels on its phones, with the Pixel 6 sporting a 50MP main camera.
Ultimately, while computational photography can tune a camera’s performance to impressive levels, only so much can be gleaned from a 12MP sensor. So increasing the megapixel count gives phone makers more to play with. In particular, the photos of the Google Pixel 6 Pro are a compelling argument to finally move on from 12MP lenses.
As such, it would seem logical that Apple would also do the same. But Cupertino is likely to use the addition of higher megapixels as a means to lean on the professional side of its next-gen iPhones Pro.
Going to 48MP means that the iPhone 14 Pro could offer a true professional mode for photos, rather than just ProRAW. Many phones with high-megapixel cameras tend to use a process called pixel binning to convert these high-megapixel photos into 12MP shots that are easier to handle and share.
But if Apple were to focus on the professional side of its next-gen phones, then we could see it provide photos in their native 48MP form for photo editors to manipulate. And that’s because more megapixels translate to more resolution, and therefore more information, such as details, to work with when editing.
Opting for a 48MP main camera would also mean that the iPhone 14 Pro could offer 8K resolution video capture, bringing it closer to Apple’s potential rivals. Today’s iPhones outperform 4K video capture.
In short, it seems that the number of megapixels in a camera could start to matter again when it comes to phone photography, especially if Apple adopts the 48MP main camera as has been rumored.
This aside, we still expect to see improved camera sensors on the iPhone 14, and a new design is set to see the end of the notch in favor of what could be a cropped pill-shaped selfie camera and underneath. show Face ID on Pro phones at least. Speaking of biometrics, we expect to see some kind of under-display fingerprint scanner, as at a time when the use of masks is prolific, Face ID may have trouble identifying users.
Improved battery life, USB-C charging, and a 4-nanometer A-series chip have also been suggested for the iPhone 14.
But we’re still a long way from September, which is when we’d expect to see the debut of the iPhone 14 range. That means a wait before we have a clear idea of which rumors bear fruit and which ones faded on the vine.