iPhone 4S: Bigger Lens

Jonathan Geller at BGR:

If Apple is introducing a so-called “iPhone 4S” — an iPhone 4 in practically the same case with upgraded internals and a better camera mobile[sic] — then the camera sensor will be larger than the existing one on the current iPhone 4 model.

The lens opening is huge. I’d say at least 4x the size, on the Otterbox Defender and Speck Candy Shell cases designed for the next iPhone. This is exciting.

A bigger lens means more light gets passed through, and that’s a really good thing. I just hope Apple upgraded the size on the supposed 8 MP image sensor.

And then…

After I finished writing this up, I went through the comments. It seems the Speck Candy Shell with the huge lens opening has been at AT&T and Verizon stores for a couple of months already. The small lens opening was interfering with the flash was the reason the case was redesigned with a bigger opening. Shucks.

I shouldn’t be too disappointed though. A big opening like that would have made the iPhone 4S look a bit weird. And I can trust Apple to continue improving the camera without having to make the lens bigger. Case in point is the iPhone 4. As far as I can tell the lens is the same size as the previous iPhones. But the iPhone 4 takes significantly better photos and videos than the 3G/3GS.

Apple increased the number of pixels from three megapixels to five, but what usually happens is more pixels are crammed into the same-sized image sensor. This leads to smaller pixels on the sensor and smaller pixels generally mean less light gathering capability. And that in turn means lower quality photographs and videos. That’s not what happened with the iPhone 4 though.

Apple kept the size of each pixel on the image sensor the same and made the image sensor bigger and employed backside illumination (BSI) technology.

BSI puts the light-blocking transistors on the back to improve light transmission to the sensors. So same lens size, same pixel size, but more pixels that can absorb more light, and much better photos and videos.

Will Apple do something like this with the iPhone 4S as it moves from five megapixels to eight? I’m betting on it.