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LiDAR is an advanced sensor technology that lets phones do new things. But which iPhones have LiDAR and which don’t? Let’s find out…


TL;DR:

  • Regular iPhone models – the iPhone 15, for example – do not include LiDAR
  • LiDAR is an advanced, costly sensor used for professional tasks
  • Only iPhone Pro models have LiDAR
  • LiDAR was introduced with iPhone 12 Pro in 2020
  • As of January 2024, all Pro models from iPhone 12 Pro to iPhone 15 Pro Max have LiDAR

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Some of the iPhones Apple sells today have LiDAR sensors built into them. Sadly, LiDAR sensors are limited to the Pro models and it doesn’t look like Apple will change that any time soon. Here’s what you need to know about LiDAR and which iPhones have LiDAR.

What Is LiDAR?

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LiDAR is an acronym for “light detection and ranging.” A LiDAR sensor therefor is a sensor that is able to measure light.

A LiDAR sensor measures light by shooting an invisible laser at something and it sees how long that laser takes to bounce back to the sensor. Because of this, a LiDAR sensor is able to measure how far away objects are in the distance.

So though LiDAR sensors detect light, what the reveal is how far away an object is in relation to the sensor.

What Is LiDAR Used For?

LiDAR sensors measure distance with high precision. This makes them invaluable in various applications, from construction to self-driving cars. But what about your iPhone?

Here’s how you can use LiDAR on your iPhone to enhance everyday tasks:

  1. Measure Spaces Quickly: Use the Measure app to instantly calculate room dimensions. Perfect for home improvement projects or rearranging furniture.
  2. Enhanced Photography: LiDAR improves low-light photography. Capture stunning portraits and night mode shots with sharper focus and more detail.
  3. Augmented Reality (AR): Experience immersive AR apps. From trying out virtual furniture in your living room to playing interactive AR games, LiDAR makes it more realistic.
  4. 3D Scanning: Create detailed 3D models of objects. Great for 3D printing or digital art projects.
  5. Accurate Room Mapping: Use apps like Canvas to create precise floor plans of your home. Handy for interior design and real estate.
  6. Better Auto-Focus: Enjoy faster and more accurate auto-focus in your camera. Capture the perfect shot every time, even in challenging conditions.
  7. Virtual Tape Measure: Forget physical tape measures. Quickly measure distances and heights with your phone, ideal for quick DIY tasks.

LiDAR isn’t just for construction sites or self-driving cars. On your iPhone, it transforms everyday activities into seamless, tech-enhanced experiences.

Which iPhones Have LiDAR?

The thing about LiDAR is that it is an pretty advanced sensor that costs more than other more common sensors like a gyroscope. Also, LiDAR sensors are also generally used for more advanced tasks–tasks by professionals.

For those reasons, Apple limits the LiDAR sensor only to the Pro models of iPhone. The regular iPhones do NOT have a LiDAR sensor.

Apple first brought the LiDAR sensor to the iPhone 12 Pro range in 2020. Since then, Apple has included a LiDAR sensor on all iPhone Pro models. As of January 2024, those include:

iPhone earlier than the iPhone 12 Pro series do not have LiDAR sensors.

What Does The iPhone Use LiDAR For?

The iPhone now uses LiDAR for a number of things. 

For starters, the iPhone’s Camera app uses the LiDAR sensor to help you take better photos. The LiDAR allows the Camera app to know how far away the subject of the photo is, which helps the Camera app autofocus much faster than it used to.

The LiDAR sensor also enables the Measurment app to work much faster and more accurately. You can use the iPhone’s built-in measurement app to literally measure an object in a room – or the entire room itself. You can even measure a person’s height using the Measurement app. This ability is greatly helped by the LiDAR sensor.

The LiDAR sensor is also used in augmented reality tasks. Since AR places digital objects over the real world, it needs to understand where the real-world objects (like tables, couches, etc) are in relation to each other and the iPhone that will be used as an AR display. The LiDAR Scanner helps with these determinations.

Where Is The LiDAR Sensor On An iPhone?

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Remember–as of January 2024, only Pro iPhone models have a LiDAR sensor.

You can easily find it on the iPhone.

Flip your iPhone around so you are looking at the rear camera unit. You see the smaller black circle near the larger three lenses? That’s the LiDAR sensor.