Future iPhone Camera With “Periscope” Zoom Capability Raises Privacy Concerns

By Aaron Kesel

A future iPhone camera is set to use periscope lenses which will dramatically increase the overall zooming capability of the smart device, raising concerns about privacy, surveillance use, and safety issues.

According to analyst Ming-chi Kuo, who has a strong track record in leaking Apple’s plans before they materialize, he predicted iPhone camera changes in a letter to investors this week. Kuo claimed Apple was in working with two major camera-lens makers to integrate the technology into their up and coming iPhone, The Verge reported.

One, South Korean firm Semco, is expected to produce “periscope” lenses for Apple’s iPhone lineup in 2022. As per Kuo, Apple is working with both Semco and Chinese lens firm Sunny Optical on the iPhone 12, rumored for release in September.

Periscope lenses use mirrors stashed inside a phone to focus light onto the sensor, and have been loaded into mobiles such as the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro.

However, Apple isn’t the only smartphone provider threatening privacy with its ridiculous zoom lens. Already on the market, the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra has an insane up to 100x “Space Zoom” that can see for miles. Although at full zoom pictures are blurry, you can only imagine what this can be used for and how easy such a technology could be abused.

It’s not just Apple and Samsung utilizing the scary “zoom lens’ technology Huawei, a Chinese brand for smartphones, has also integrated the tech into at least one of its phones, the P30 Pro. The P30 Pro enables a 5X optical periscopic zoom lens that can also use hybrid zoom (up to 10X) and then go all the way up to 50X by cropping the output of the 20 MP smartphone camera sensor. Although, Samsung and Huawei for these specific models are not using periscope lenses.

To put that into further perspective comparing Samsung and Huawei to Apple, it’s thought that Apple’s periscope lens will give iPhones up to 5x optical zoom and beyond, though this could actually be boosted up to 50x zoom with a combination of optical and digital lenses.

Last year, political science professor Bessma Momani tweeted that the P30 Pro was a “privacy and surveillance nightmare” after a video went viral showcasing the phone’s zoom lens recording children playing a board game from a high rise. This highlights that smartphones can actually be used to let you stalk someone from a distance, and in some cases from even miles away.

However, First Post disputes the video shared by Bessma Momani, and notes that preexisting cameras not attached to smartphones already exist allowing this type of zooming, expressing that DSLRs with far better sensors and telescopes well below that price range have been available for a decade. So in actuality, this is nothing new and it’s only just now being integrated into our smartphones.

Currently, Apple’s latest mobiles are only capable of up to 2x optical zoom, though this can be extended to 10x with the addition of digital zoom. Apple wouldn’t be the first to use the periscope lenses either, the tech has already been seen in smartphones including the OPPO Find X2 Pro and the Huawei P40 Pro Plus.

Kuo’s report is largely speculation, and Apple hasn’t even announced an iPhone for 2022. But it wouldn’t be surprising if it was to come true given that competitors are also enabling the zoom lens technology into their own phones and Apple wants to be able to keep up with its competition.

Image: Pixabay

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Aaron Kesel writes for Activist Post.

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