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LG’s new zoom camera might fix the iPhone’s growing bump

With each major upgrade, the camera bump on the back of the iPhone and Android flagships has grown. It’s a design compromise we’ve learned to live with, as we want better photos from our slim smartphones. But things are getting out of hand, and the iPhone 14 Pro’s camera bump is proof of that. Next year, the iPhone 15 Ultra might feature a periscope zoom camera that might further complicate the rear camera design.

But LG Innotek just announced a significant breakthrough for zoom cameras. The company unveiled a brand new telephoto zoom camera module for flagship smartphones that should help reduce the size of the camera bump. There’s no telling whether the iPhone will use it this year, but LG said it’s partnering with Qualcomm to have the new zoom lens inside phones rocking the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor.

LG announced the camera innovation ahead of CES 2023, saying it has received the CES 2023 Innovation Award for the smartphone component.

The new optical telephoto zoom camera module is a periscope lens that will offer continuous optical zoom (4-9x) and optical image stabilization. LG says the camera can provide any zoom between 4x and 9x, unlike other cameras.

LG explains it has developed a zoom actuator for the camera. That component moves the lens to change the focal distance or set focus. This component allows the zoom camera to deliver “clear and clean image quality in all sections between the 4-9 times magnification.”

The actuator features high moving speed and increased durability with less battery consumption, LG says. The actuator will move by 1μm increments to deliver the desired zoom for photos and videos.

LG Innotek's new optical telephoto zoom camera module unveiled ahead of CES 2023.
LG Innotek’s new optical telephoto zoom camera module unveiled ahead of CES 2023. Image source: LG

The new camera will also occupy less space inside the phone, so the camera bump should not increase in size. Furthermore, LG says the camera is more efficient for the battery.

LG didn’t mention Apple’s iPhone in its announcement. iPhone suppliers almost never mention Apple when unveiling new components. And LG Innotek is an iPhone supplier, with Apple being the company’s most important client.

Again, rumors say the iPhone 15 Ultra will be the first iPhone to feature a periscope zoom lens. But there’s no way to tell whether Apple will use the new LG lens for the handset.

LG did say it partnered with Qualcomm to have the new periscope zoom work with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip. That’s the processor that will power the Galaxy S23 series. That said, it’s unclear which flagship Android handsets will use the new zoom camera next year.

As for the camera bump, the telephoto camera is only one of the three lenses on the back of the iPhone. More innovation is needed to truly decrease the size and thickness of the camera module without compromising image quality.

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