Next Apple iPhone Camera Could Get Optical Image Zoom

Apple's next iPhones could get a key improvement: an optical zoom camera that would give crisper images, compared with the digital zoom in today's iPhones.

Apple iPhone rumor

The next Apple iPhone that will be released later in 2015 could have an improved built-in camera that will allow users to take advantage of true optical zoom, rather than digitally-enhanced zoom capabilities that aren't as crisp as zooms performed using optical lenses made from glass.

The potential replacement of digital zoom with optical zoom in the next iPhone was the subject of a recent rumor reported by UDN, a Japanese-language Website, which reported that the information came from reliable sources in the Asian supply chain. The next-generation iPhone camera could even include a dual-lens system, according to UDN.

The UDN report also included another rumor for the next iPhone—that it would also receive a new "Force Touch" pressure-sensitive touch-screen like the one that's expected in the upcoming Apple Watch, according to a Jan. 14 article by Business Insider. Force Touch would allow users to press the screen to load an app or push it harder to choose various features, the report stated.

The new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus smartphones were a big hit during the first weekend of sales starting in September 2014. Apple sold more than 10 million units of the devices after their Sept. 19 debut, setting a new all-time record for first-weekend iPhone sales since the smartphones first hit the market back in June 2007, according to an earlier eWEEK report.

More than 4 million of the new iPhones were preordered within 24 hours of the process opening on Sept. 12, just seven days before the official device launch date. That high demand quickly led the company to advise customers that many devices wouldn't be delivered until October due to short initial supplies.

The new iPhones include the iPhone 6, with a 4.7-inch Retina HD display, and an even larger iPhone 6 Plus, with a 5.5-inch Retina HD screen. The new devices—available in 16GB, 64GB and 128GB storage capacities—include an Apple-designed A8 chip with second-generation 64-bit desktop-class architecture, enhanced iSight and FaceTime HD cameras, and the latest iOS 8 operating system.

Earlier in January, Apple announced that it is now selling unlocked, SIM-free iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus smartphones without included SIM cards for the first time. Previously, buyers would have to buy a phone through T-Mobile and then replace the included SIM card with a card of their choice to obtain a phone they could use with other carriers around the world.

The SIM-free smartphones were not announced by Apple but instead simply appeared on the company's Website and in Apple Stores, where they are now available for sale to buyers. By being able to buy SIM-free models directly, buyers no longer will have to go through extra activation steps to move devices from T-Mobile to other carriers.

A SIM-free iPhone 6 16GB model is priced at $649, with a 64GB model selling for $749 and a 64GB model for $849. The larger iPhone 6 Plus is priced at $749 for a 16GB model, $849 for a 64GB model and $949 for a 128GB model.

The availability of SIM-free iPhones could make them even more desirable for some users who want to have freedom to use services from various wireless carriers as they see fit around the world, particularly for global travelers who desire more flexibility.

Apple's latest iPhones continue to sell well since their introduction in September 2014, with more Apple devices being purchased and activated as gifts on Christmas this season, compared with other brands, according to recent figures from Flurry Analytics. Apple collected 51.3 percent of the Christmas Day device activations, compared with 17.7 percent for major competitor Samsung, according to Flurry.

Based on the latest data, devices from third-place finisher Nokia made up 5.8 percent of the Christmas Day activations, with Sony in fourth place at 1.6 percent. LG finished fifth with 1.4 percent of the activations, according to Flurry. The figures show that, for every Samsung device that was activated, Apple saw 2.9 device activations, giving it a dominant performance for the holiday, the report states.

Back in December 2014, rumors began circulating that Apple would release a new iPhone 6S in the spring of 2015 while the next generation of devices, the iPhone 7, is expected in the fall, according to an earlier eWEEK report.

Now, all of these rumors and purported timelines could, of course, be entirely or partially wrong, but that's the intrigue of following rumors about product launches.