The Evolution Of Apple’s iPhone Camera – iPhone 4 To iPhone 12

By Daniel Segun •  Updated: 06/01/20 •  5 min read

Here, we will show you the evolution of the Apple iPhone camera from the iPhone 4 to the upcoming iPhone 12, detailing how it has changed over the years – from the number of sensors to the type of technology they use… 

If there’s one thing iPhone users enjoy, it’s taking beautiful photos with their devices. Apple uses top-notch technology to ensure that the cameras in iPhones produce only high-quality images. Currently, users of the latest iPhone devices can capture images and videos in 4k quality, as well as harness an array of tools and software applications to create professional-looking photos.

READ: Find Out How I Saved 40% On My Last iPhone

But it wasn’t always this way; the evolution of Apple’s iPhone camera has taken A LONG TIME. It has developed over each generation, adding in more megapixels, more sensors, improved machine learning, and things like Optical Image Stabilization. As you can see below, the big changes happened slowly, over the course of the last decade.

Apple iPhone Camera Evolution

iPhone 4 0.3 MP 5.0 MP wide
iPhone 4s 0.3 MP 8.0 MP wide
iPhone 5 1.2 MP 8.0 MP wide
iPhone 5c 1.2 MP 8.0 MP wide
iPhone 5s 1.2 MP 8.0 MP wide
iPhone 6 1.2 MP 8.0 MP wide
iPhone 6 Plus 1.2 MP 8.0 MP wide
iPhone 6s 5 MP 12.2 MP wide
iPhone 6s Plus 5 MP 12.2 MP wide
iPhone SE  1.2 MP 12.2 MP wide
iPhone 7 7 MP 12.2 MP wide
iPhone 7 Plus 7 MP 12.2 MP wide

12.2 MP telephoto

iPhone 8 7 MP 12.2 MP wide
iPhone 8 Plus 7 MP 12.2 MP wide

12.2 MP telephoto

iPhone X 7 MP 12.2 MP wide

12.2 MP telephoto

iPhone XR 7 MP 12.2 MP wide
iPhone XS 7 MP 12.2 MP wide

12.2 MP telephoto

iPhone XS Max 7 MP 12.2 MP wide

12.2 MP telephoto

iPhone 11 12 MP 12 MP wide

12 MP telephoto

iPhone 11 Pro 12 MP 12 MP wide

12 MP ultrawide

12 MP telephoto

iPhone 11 Pro Max 12 MP 12 MP wide

12 MP ultrawide

12 MP telephoto

iPhone SE (2020) 7 MP 12 MP wide
iPhone 12 12 MP 12 MP wide camera

12 MP ultrawide

12 MP telephoto

12 MP LiDAR Scanner

iPhone Camera Updates – iPhone 4 to iPhone 12

Cameras have always been an important part of a phone. But it wasn’t until mid-way through the 2000s, that things really started heating up, thanks to key developments with chipsets and image signal processors. Improvements at a silicon level add up to big changes to a phone’s functionality, and the advent of higher-performance cameras was born for the massive developments ARM has made in the last decade.

Dual, triple, and even quad-lens cameras are now only possible because of the powerful chipsets we have inside our phones. Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 865, for instance, has myriad capabilities designed specifically for imaging and image capture. And innovation isn’t slowing down; Moore’s Law is consistently being bent and stretched. And in 2021, we’ll see further developments with phone cameras.

Although Apple’s iPhone 12, which lands later on this year, we’ll be the first out the door with a true, next-generation processor in the form of the company’s A14 CPU. And that thing will be insanely powerful, so much so that many expect to see a similar chip, or, at least one based on the A14 launching inside Apple’s first ARM-powered MacBook in late 2020, early 2021.

PRO TIP: If you take lots of pictures with your iPhone you should be aware that you can hide private pictures and videos you don’t want anyone else to see right in the Photos app.

The iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s featured the same front cameras but different rear ones. While the iPhone 4 had a 5MP rear camera and could shoot video at 720p max, the iPhone 4s 8 MP rear camera, and could shot HD video at 1080p. 

With the iPhone 5, Apple introduced a 1.2 MP front camera while retaining the 8 MP rear camera of the previous iPhone 4s.            

The cameras featured in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are the same as the iPhone 5 models – 1.2 MP front camera and 8 MP rear camera. 

iPhone 6s and 6s Plus came with an upgraded 5 MP front camera and a 12.2 MP rear camera, which shoots 4k at 2160p. 

The iPhone SE cameras were a mixture of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s’ cameras with 1.2 MP in front and 12.2 MP at the rear. 

A 7 MP front camera was featured on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus phones. While the iPhone 7 has a single 12.2 MP rear camera, the iPhone 7 Plus has dual 12.2 rear cameras – wide and telephoto lenses. 

Like the iPhone 7 models, the iPhone 8 and 8 plus has the same 7 MP front cameras. The 8 has a single 12.2 MP rear camera but dual – wide and telephoto – 12.2 MP rear cameras are featured in the 8 Plus.

The only iPhone in the X series to differ was the iPhone XR with a 7 MP and 12.2 MP front and rear camera, respectively. The others came with a 7 MP front camera and two 12 MP rear cameras like the 8 Plus. 

Apple introduced the current 12 MP front camera with the iPhone 11 models. While the iPhone 11 had two 12 MP wide and telephoto rear cameras, the 11 Pro and Pro Max featured three rears cameras with a 12 MP ultrawide camera addition.

The iPhone SE 2020 comes with a 7 MP front camera and a single 12 MP wide rear camera, similar to the iPhone 7 and 8.

Though the iPhone 12 is yet to be officially released, reports from leaks reveal that the iPhone 12 will feature four rear cameras with the inclusion of a wide, ultrawide, and telephoto lenses. A new LiDAR scanner is rumored to be introduced; the same one that featured aboard the most recent iPad Pro. 

Be sure to check out how to use the Apple Watch as a shutter remote for the iPhone’s camera!

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Daniel Segun

Daniel Segun is a Content Writer, Graphics Designer, and Web Developer with a background in Computer Science. His work has appeared on several publications such as GraceThemes, Web Designer Depot, SecureBlitz, NewsLair, CryptoJefe, and more...
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