Image Sensors Technology
Apple's newest iPhone Three Camera System is "Cam-packed"
Some of the new features Apple introduced is an upgraded main rear cam on the baseline model iPhone 14, a revised Front camera module on the iPhone 14 Pro/Max and of course a long-anticipated rear camera resolution upgrade that finally came to the iPhone 14 Pro/Max.
On initial release of the Blog on September 10th, we speculated on the different sensors expected to be in use for the iPhone 14/Plus as well as the iPhone 14 Pro/Max series. Since then, TechInsights has obtained recent optical photos of the iPhone 14 Pro/Max and this Blog is updated to reflect this information. Furthermore, initial speculation on the iPhone 14/Plus has been removed and a future update will be provided once images are available.
In contrast to the baseline model, the high-end iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max have undergone a re-deign of the Front camera module, where is it now referred to as a “Dynamic Island”. The opaque area of the pill-shaped region hiding the front TrueDepth and IR cameras is no longer a notch and is made to “expand” in OLED screen in a dynamic way giving the illusion that it is part of the display, and not merely to house the front cameras.
Looking at a highly contrasted image from the Apple iPhone 14 Pro/Max, the Front-facing camera module seems to have two regions, one for the TrueDepth and another for the IR camera/emitter components, as shown in Figure 1. The image sensor used on the Face ID IR Cam is the same in both the iPhone 13, and the iPhone 14, a 1.4 MP 2.8 µm pixel pitch STMicroelectronics Die. However, the Sony TrueDepth cameras have been upgraded to include Phase Detection Autofocus – PDAF (Figure 2).
Figure 1. Apple iPhone 13 Pro/Max vs iPhone 14 Pro/Max Front Camera Module.
Figure 2. Apple iPhone 13 Pro/Max vs iPhone 14 Pro/Max Front Cameras CIS Dies.
Main Rear (Wide-Angle) Camera
Figure 3 shows iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max vs iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max main rear camera modules.
Figure 3. Apple iPhone 13 Pro/Max vs iPhone 14 Pro/Max Main Rear Camera.
One of the most notable new features Apple introduced this year is the new main rear camera sensor in the iPhone 14 Pro/Max, with an upgraded resolution of 48MP. The reported pixel-pitch is 2.44 µm for a Quad-pixel. In other words, this sensor’s absolute pixel pitch is 1.22 µm at a resolution of 48MP or 2.44 µm at 12MP. It is rather interesting that the Quad-pixel reverts back to Apple’s legacy resolution of 12MP.
This new Rear Cam sensor has a different Masked PDAF pattern compared to that of its predecessor Rear cam on the iPhone 13 Pro/Max, as shown in Figure 4. The Masked PDAF includes a new double metal pattern for each 2×2 pixel group. In addition to Masked PDAF, previous Sony sensors also employed two photodiodes per pixel which likely provided supplemental “Dual Photodiode” (DP) PDAF information across the entire array. This full-array Dual Photodiode feature is also confirmed to be in use in the new 48 MP sensor.
Figure 4. Apple iPhone 13 Pro/Max vs iPhone 14 Pro/Max Main Rear Camera CIS Dies.
Ultrawide Rear Camera
Figure 5 shows iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max vs iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max Ultrawide rear camera modules.
Figure 5. Apple iPhone 13 Pro/Max vs iPhone 14 Pro/Max Ultrawide Rear Camera.
Another camera improvement in the iPhone 14 Pro/Max, is the Ultrawide camera, with a 12MP, 1.4 µm pixel size. This sensor seems to be a reuse of iPhone 12 Pro wide-angle main camera and it features Masked PDAF plus full array dual photodiode (PD) compared with the iPhone 13 Ultrawide, which used a 12MP, 1.0 µm pixel size and Masked PDAF (Figure 6).
Figure 6. Apple iPhone 13 Pro/Max vs iPhone 14 Pro/Max Ultrawide Rear Camera CIS Dies.
Ultrawide Rear Camera
Figure 7 shows iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max vs iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max Telephoto rear camera modules.
Figure 7. Apple iPhone 13 Pro/Max vs iPhone 14 Pro/Max Telephoto Rear Camera.
The iPhone 14 Pro/Max Telephoto camera, with a 12MP, 1.0 µm pixel size and masked PDAF, seems to be the same as iPhone 13 Pro/Max Telephoto (Figure 8).
Figure 8. Apple iPhone 13 Pro/Max vs iPhone 14 Pro/Max Telephoto Rear Camera CIS Dies.
LiDAR Rear Camera
Figure 9 shows iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max vs iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max LiDAR rear camera modules.
Figure 9. Apple iPhone 13 Pro/Max vs iPhone 14 Pro/Max LiDAR Rear Camera.
The iPhone 14 Pro/Max LiDAR camera, with a 0.3MP, 10 µm pixel size, is the same die as of iPhone 13 Pro/Max LiDAR (Figure 10).
Figure 10. Apple iPhone 13 Pro/Max vs iPhone 14 Pro/Max LiDAR Rear Camera CIS Dies.
TechInsights has planned Device Essential, Device Essential Plus and Exploratory and analysis on the iPhone 14 series image sensors and expect to provide more definitive details once analysis are complete. Stay tuned.