Apple Camera Patent Published, Prepares for Improved Autofocus and OIS in iPhone 6

// January 15, 2014
Actuator module for smartphone camera, patent diagram drawing

Apple is always up to something, even when Cupertino doesn’t leave a paper trail. The company is known for its commitment to ideal camera quality, seeing that Apple provided auto image stabilization software for the iPhone 5s just last Fall. It seems as if the purple haze controversy of the iPhone 5 is behind us now, although the 8MP camera still remains.

With last September’s iPhone 5s presentation, however, Apple has made one thing clear: it cares about camera quality. The iPhone 5s has micropixels instead of additional megapixels because Apple wanted to produce better images instead of packing megapixels so that iPhone users can take larger photos. The result of Apple’s efforts is that the iPhone 5s has, undoubtedly, better lighting and photo production than its predecessor.


Cupertino isn’t yet finished with the camera; as with all smartphones, there’s more work to do. An Apple patent calling for an autofocus (AF) mechanism and an OIS (optical image stabilization) mechanism regarding smartphone cameras and other mobile devices has now been published by the US Patent and Trademark Office as of Thursday, January 10, 2014. According to the Patent Summary,

 An embodiment of the invention is an actuator module suitable for use in a camera, more specifically, a miniature camera. The actuator module may include a mechanism to provide an AF [autofocus] function and a mechanism to provide an OIS [optical image stabilization] function. In one embodiment, the AF mechanism may be configured with four separate magnets and four separate coils positioned around a lens carrier. Each coil can deliver a force on one corner of the lens carrier along the optical axis.

While Apple’s iPhone 5s has auto image stabilization, AIS and OIS are not the same thing. Auto image stabilization is used to prevent minor shaking but does not prevent motion blur. If you’ve taken iPhone pictures of a child in your family who wants to run around the room instead of posing for the camera, you’ll understand how this works. OIS, or optical image stabilization, prevents motion blur in photos. Thus, it goes one step further in providing quality images that make cherished memories.

Sources say that Apple’s decision to file an AF and OIS camera module patent illustrates that the company is committed to placing the same 8-megapixel (MP) camera into the iPhone 6. If Apple retains the 8MP camera in the iPhone 6 this Fall, the company will have kept the 8MP camera in style for 5 generations of iPhones (or 5 years): iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, and iPhone 6. Apple’s micropixel implementation from last September may be a sign of a continuing trend.

Apple’s implementation of OIS in its iPhone 6 camera will place Apple in excellent company with other manufacturers who remain committed to mind-blowing tech specs: HTC placed OIS into its HTC One from this past year (2013), as did LG in its G2, LG and Google in its Nexus 5, and Nokia in its Lumia 1020 and 1520 models.

iPhone, News

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