With all the talk of a new iPhone coming out, Forbes Tech released an article by Amadou Diallo on how Apple can corner the market with its release. What do you all think about Forbes suggestions? Is there anything else you’d like to see on the new iPhone?
The rumor mill surrounding an Apple iPhone launch is in full swing. Earlier this month, AllThingsD reported a September 10 launch date and The Wall Street Journal cited sources claiming Apple is preparing to ship both a standard and lower cost model, a new approach for the Cupertino company. One that reflects the reality that since the release of the iPhone 5 in 2012, the battle for smartphone supremacy has only become more challenging for Apple. In a fast maturing market, that some are speculating has reached peak growth, industry watchers are waiting to see how Apple can distinguish its upcoming model(s) from the likes of Samsung and other Android rivals.
On the camera front, though, I’d argue that Apple has an even more basic, but no less crucial task. The challenge for the next iPhone is to catch up with features and operations from competing phones. I’ve been shooting daily with the iPhone 5 for the better part of a year now and from a photography perspective here’s five things I’d like to see from the iPhone 5 replacement.
1. Manual exposure controls
The Apple design ethos revolves around intuitive use and simplicity of operation. And this has served most users well. The iPhone’s native camera app is one you can use without calling up a user manual or onscreen prompts, for example. But photographers crave control. And while it’s understandable that Apple leaves more sophisticated camera tools and operation to third party developers, it’s less obvious why they feel the need to prevent developers from having direct control over crucial settings like shutter speed, ISO or even exposure compensation. Android users have this capability in both default and third party apps and the inability to do this on the iPhone is a big frustration.
2. Better low light performance
Any premium smartphone can deliver great images in good light, but performance drops noticeably when light levels dip. The high ISO settings required to capture indoor and night shots at hand-holdable shutter speeds means lots of image noise. One way that camera makers have addressed this is by using a wider aperture “faster” lens, which lets in more light. The iPhone 5 lens has an aperture of F2.4, which is relatively slow compared to the F2.0 optics found in the HTC One series. A wider aperture means you can shoot at lower ISO settings and thus reduce the noise levels in the image.
Another, more intriguing approach to reducing image noise, however, has been shown off by sensor maker Aptina, who announced their Clarity+ technology earlier this summer. The company claims that it’s version of clear pixel technology allows for 2x the light gathering ability of a standard RGB pixel array. The upshot is that you can have the image detail of a 13MP sensor while maintaining the relatively lower noise levels of an 8MP chip.
Motorola has introduced its own flavor of clear pixel technology in the Moto X. And Nokia of course, generated plenty of excitement with its 41MP Lumia 1020 which uses pixel oversampling to produce some of the cleanest low light images you’ll see from any smartphone or entry level compact camera. If Apple has its own light gathering tricks up its sleeve and can deliver images with significantly lower noise levels than the iPhone 5, that alone could make for an enticing upgrade for photographers.
3. Optical image stabilization
Long a feature of traditional cameras, optical image stabilization (OIS) is making its way into smartphones like the HTC One and Nokia Lumia series models. This feature automatically counteracts the camera shake inherent in hand held shots at slow shutter speeds. The current solution on the iPhone – possible only via third party apps – is an “anti-shake” mode that simply waits to fire the shutter until the camera is relatively still, which has obvious limitations. And an OIS gives you more than just the ability to capture sharp images. You’ll also get cleaner, more detailed ones because the camera can shoot at a lower ISO setting.
4. Better pixels, not just more pixels
Some rumor sites are suggesting we’ll see a higher resolution 13MP camera. While the iPhone 5′s 8MP spec does appear dated in comparison to the raft of 13MP sensors we’re seeing today, consumers simply aren’t clamoring for bigger images. What they do want, however are cleaner, more detailed ones.
And all else being equal, the surest way to achieve that is with a physically larger imaging sensor. Smartphones typically have a tiny 1/3.2″ or 1/2.3″ sensor, the same as entry level compact cameras, thus the similarity in image quality. A larger sensor not only improves light gathering ability but also provides the option for a shallower depth of field, which lets you emphasize your subject by blurring out elements in front of and/or behind them.
The current sensor size champ is the Lumia 1020 from Nokia with a 1/1.5″ sensor that’s almost as large as those found in enthusiast compact cameras. And while the form factor of Apple’s phones is much too slim to accommodate the bulk a sensor of that size, HTC has been marketing a “less is more” approach to output with its 4MP “ultrapixel” One handset. And if Apple could deliver noticeably superior image quality with the iPhone 5 replacement, I doubt most consumers would give a second thought to the megapixel spec.
5. Launch any camera app from the lock screen
With iOS 5, Apple granted the time-saving ability to launch its camera app directly from the lock screen, without entering a password. That’s great…if you’re using the native camera app. But the photographers who’d most benefit from quick camera access to catch those “decisive moments” are much more likely to be using a third party camera app. Being able to specify just which camera app is launched from the lock screen would make the lock screen shortcut more relevant to photo enthusiasts.
Apple still maintains an enviable position in the premium smartphone market. And after nearly a year of shooting with the iPhone 5 every day for a photo project, I appreciate its relatively petite size, responsiveness and fast focusing. Yet there’s no denying that there are better featured and more versatile cameras on both the Android and Windows Phone 8 platforms. With their upcoming iPhone, Apple has a chance to narrow the gap in some key areas. Whether they will remains to be seen, of course. But by all accounts we won’t have to wait much longer to find out.
What would you like to see in the next iPhone? Let me know in the comments below.
Source: Forbes Tech