Why it makes sense that the iPhone 6 could be thinner than its camera sensor

iphone_6_camera_ring

Based on some leaked schematics, it’s possible that the camera ring on Apple’s upcoming iPhone slightly protrudes from the handset. A Taiwan site called the Apple Club posted the schematic images, which suggest a 0.77 millemeter “bump” around iPhone’s camera; possibly a smaller one for the reported larger, 5.5-inch version of the iPhone 6, indicating that model will be slightly thicker than the smaller edition.

iPhone 6 schematics

9to5 Mac notes that schematic drawings are often exaggerated but I’m leaning towards this slight protrusion as being a strong possibility. For one thing, Apple has generally continued to shrink the thickness of the iPhone over time and I doubt the iPhone 6 will be an exception to that rule. That approach brings challenges, however, as component makers have to supply Apple with parts that fit inside the handset. And that’s not easy with a camera sensor.

Take a look at this picture of the iPhone 5s camera sensor, for example, from the iFixit teardown last year:

iPhone 5s camera sensor

You can see that the sensor is a little block that’s nearly the same thickness as the the phone itself. It’s not easy to boost the sensor resolution and fit all of the optical lens elements in a thin space but that’s what Apple needs for a thinner phone without some type of camera protrusion. Add in optical image stabilization and the space gets even tighter.

Here’s another, more exaggerated example: Nokia’s innovative 41 megapixel PureView sensor and lens on the Lumia 1020 has a noticeable bump out because of the camera elements:

Lumia 1020 pureview

Leaked schematics certainly aren’t iron-clad evidence that the iPhone 6 camera ring will extend outward, of course.

It does make sense, however, if the various thin iPhone 6 case leaks are accurate: It’s difficult to shrink down a camera sensor while — if history is any guide — improving the image quality as Apple typically does with each new iPhone. If the camera ring does bump out from the iPhone 6 will that hurt sales? Not a chance.

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