For the past few year’s Apple has managed to offer one of the best smartphone cameras on the market without jumping into the megapixel arms race, and a new patent awarded to the Cupertino company suggests that won’t change anytime soon. Instead of upping its megapixel count in future iPhones, Apple may introduce new imaging technology referred to by the company as “super-resolution based on optical image stabilization.”
Apple’s latest patent, which was awarded to the company on Thursday and submitted back in November 2012, describes how the company could improve photo-quality using the same technology already used for optical image stabilization (OIS). The new system essentially snaps a batch of photos very quickly at different angles and then stitches them together to create one larger “super resolution” picture. Future iPhone owners would be able to choose between regular and super resolution mode, similar to the burst mode offered on the iPhone 5s.
It’s unclear if “super resolution” will ever make it into a future iPhone model, and there’s never any guarantee that any particular Apple patent is slated for public release. The patent also clashes with recent rumors Apple could opt for electronic image stabilization (EIS) over OIS with the iPhone 6 in an effort to keep the device as thin as possible by relying on software instead of additional hardware.
Of course this is all assuming Apple makes any major changes to the iPhone’s camera at all this year. The company has been content to push out small updates with each new smartphone, and with some other big changes expected for the iPhone 6 a revamped camera may not be in the cards.