iPhone 16 Ultra camera will incorporate biggest leap in photos since black and white: report

Jason Hainer/ZDNet

Next year’s top-of-the-line iPhone 16 Ultra will include a camera system that can capture 3D spatial images and spatial videos that appear in the Apple Vision Pro headset, according to a serial leaker on Weibo and first spotted by MacRumors.

In my demonstration of Vision Pro at WWDC, the spatial images and videos were the most impressive I’ve seen. As I mentioned in my analysis of the Vision Pro experience, the feeling of stepping into a scene with spatial video and imagery was far more realistic than any 3D movie, IMAX, or 8K display I’ve seen. I’ve called it the must-see feature of the Vision Pro.

also: I tested Apple Vision Pro and it’s way ahead of what I expected

Several journalists, analysts, and developers who had access to the Vision Pro demo expressed similar sentiments. John Gruber of Daring Fireball said the spatial videos were more like “going into memory” than watching a screen.

However, one of the most popular reactions to this feature was that in order to capture spatial photos and videos of life’s most memorable moments – like a child’s birthday party or a special family trip – you have to wear a Vision professional headset to capture it. And that would separate you from your being in the moment.

Also: every product we’re expecting at an Apple event in September

As a result, there was immediate speculation that Apple could incorporate similar 3D capture technology into a future iPhone camera system, since it already uses LiDAR for depth sensing and does 3D scanning for features like Face ID.

Apple Vision Pro headset coming in early 2024

Jason Hainer/ZDNet

So the latest report indicating that Apple plans to introduce 3D photography and video into iPhones next fall after the launch of Vision Pro in early 2024 is a logical progression. Of course, logic doesn’t always match what’s feasible and economical to manufacture, so we have to be careful about timing.

It also makes sense for Apple to introduce this technology to its most expensive, high-end, and best-selling model first. Still, I predict this technology will eventually make it to most iPhone models because spatial photos and videos are so attractive that they could be the first killer app that makes people want an Apple headset — after the price drop.

also: The best VR headsets for gaming, the Metaverse, and beyond

There is such an emotional reaction when seeing spatial images and videos that it feels like something new and a welcome innovation. This may in fact be an even greater leap forward than the transition from black and white photography to color photography and video.

Regarding the name of Apple’s flagship smartphone, there are conflicting reports as to whether this year’s iPhone 15 Pro Max could be rebranded as iPhone 15 Ultra. It is said to include a periscope camera to take shots at longer distances, which may justify the name change. But if next year’s model includes 3D capture technology, it will certainly justify the upgrade to its name.

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