Apple patent filing is for ‘wide field of view five element lens system’

Apple is working on even better lens for upcoming iPhones. The tech giant has applied for a patent (number 20190129149) for “wide field of view five element lens system.” 

In the patent filing, the advent of small, mobile multipurpose devices such as smartphones and tablet or pad devices has resulted in a need for high-resolution, small form factor cameras that are lightweight, compact, and capable of capturing high resolution, high quality images at low F-numbers for integration in the devices. However, due to limitations of conventional camera technology, conventional small cameras used in such devices tend to capture images at lower resolutions and/or with lower image quality than can be achieved with larger, higher quality cameras. 

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Achieving higher resolution with small package size cameras generally requires use of a photosensor with small pixel size and a good, compact imaging lens system. Advances in technology have achieved reduction of the pixel size in photosensors. However, as photosensors become more compact and powerful, demand for compact imaging lens systems with improved imaging quality performance has increased. 

In addition, there are increasing expectations for small form factor cameras to be equipped with higher pixel count and/or larger pixel size image sensors (one or both of which may require larger image sensors) while still maintaining a module height that is compact enough to fit into portable electronic devices. Apple says, thus, a challenge from an optical system design point of view is to to provide an imaging lens system that is capable of capturing high brightness, high resolution images under the physical constraints imposed by small form factor cameras. 

Here’s a summary of the patent: “Lens systems are described that may be used in small form factor cameras. An imaging lens system may include a front aperture and five lens elements, and provides a low F-number (<=2.4), wide field of view (>=82 degrees), and short total track length (TTL). Lens system parameters and relationships may be selected at least in part to reduce, compensate, or correct for optical aberrations and lens artifacts and effects across the field of view.”

Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.