Apple rules out Samsung camera tech for 2023 iPhones, at a huge expense

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Last updated: September 2nd, 2021 at 15:48 UTC+02:00

Apple has ruled out Samsung camera tech for the 2023 iPhone line, sources from South Korea report. But the decision might very well prove costly for Cupertino. Both in terms of performance and — consequently — the end-user experience.

The so-called periscope cameras are at the center of the development. Namely, Apple is reportedly ditching the idea of procuring zoom actuators from Seoul-based Jahwa Electronics. Largely on account of the fact that this solution has been developed in partnership with Samsung Electro-Mechanics. Making it doubtful whether Jahwa would even be able to supply the tech without cutting in Samsung.

Is money the only thing standing in the way?

The iPhone maker has so far been procuring zooming actuators from Mitsumi Electric and Alps Electric. And given how much the iPhone already depends on Samsung, it’s unsurprising that Cupertino’s reluctant to provide its rival with even more bargaining power.

LG InnoTek might offer Apple an alternative for Samsung’s ball guide actuators used for moving the lens barrel. But whether it will manage to do so in time for it to supply the 2023 iPhone line remains doubtful. Namely, while the LG subsidiary has a long-standing relationship with Apple, its tech is still in its infancy. As a result, Samsung is likely to offer unrivaled mobile zoom performance in 2023.

Naturally, we’re still talking about Apple; i.e., one of the strongest brands with perhaps the most blindly loyal fan followings in the world. Especially tech-wise. So it stands to reason that the lack of cutting-edge periscope camera tech won’t reflect too badly on the sales of the 2023 iPhone series. But assuming the alleged decision to ditch Samsung as a supplier wasn’t made on a whim, it’s very likely that its effects will be cumulative. So, not as obvious one generation in, but increasingly glaring as time goes on.

Regardless, Apple is still considering Jahwa’s optical image stabilization tech, sources claim. Even though it might end up paying even more royalties to Samsung. Though it might have even worked out a way to circumvent the patent difficulties.

The main allure periscope cameras hold for mobile brands is in their ability to compress advanced zooming capabilities. This would be arguably the biggest weakpoint of modern smartphone photography. Doing zoom the “traditional” way within the constraints of smartphone bodies would otherwise mean redoing the niche Galaxy K Zoom. Or not doing them at all.

Samsung and most other phone manufacturers have hence been pursuing periscope photography for a while now. And since the company first commercialized this approach with the Galaxy S20 Ultra, it also equipped the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and Galaxy S21 Ultra with the same tech.

As for the 2023 iPhones, time is not on Apple’s side. Cupertino needs to finalize its supply chain by year end. It hence cannnot wait for LG InnoTek to deliver for much longer – or at all. In other words, expect an update on this situation in a couple of months, tops.

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