Small iPhone 16 camera design change could have important implications

Apple is known for moving slowly but surely, changing things only when it really makes sense and after numerous tests. That can be especially seen in the iPhone’s cameras, which don’t change year after year, unlike the general trend in the mobile industry. Whether it’s the hardware itself or the design of the camera bump, Apple has been careful and meticulous in introducing changes. That’s why it’s a bit of a big thing that Apple is rumored to be changing the iPhone 16’s camera design for the first time in three years, but it’s a change that will bring a significant change in functionality, at least for the base iPhone models, and possibly a very different aesthetic as well.

Designer: Apple (via MacRumors)

Apple has traditionally been modest with its camera hardware because it is able to pull off great images even with sensors that look outdated on paper. It also doesn’t change the design of the camera island as often as other brands, introducing a pill-shaped bump in the iPhone 8 Plus in 2017 and only switching to a square enclosure in the 2019 iPhone 11. In the 2021 iPhone 13, it moved the position of the lenses so that they’d be diagonally opposite to each other, creating a visually more interesting composition than the plain vertical arrangement of the iPhone X.

According to rumors, however, Apple is switching back to a vertical design for the iPhone 16 cameras, and it’s unlikely just on a whim. There is a chance that this change will enable the Spatial Video function that’s only available on the iPhone 15 Pro models, a feature that allows recording video in three dimensions. This, however, requires using both the main wide camera and the ultrawide shooter in tandem, in which case these two sensors have to be aligned vertically or even horizontally.

What’s a little more interesting is that Apple is reportedly testing a different design for this new camera as well. There is one that looks exactly like the iPhone 11 and 12, with the cameras vertically arranged. Another potential design, however, places the vertical pill shape of the iPhone X on top of the square bump of the iPhone 15. As interesting as that may look visually, it’s a rather distracting design and would be a bit complicated and inconsistent with the current iPhone design language.

Changing the camera arrangement to enable Spatial Video recording is another sign that Apple is aiming to bring Pro features to the base iPhone 16. An earlier leak claimed that a redesigned Action Button will be available on all iPhone 16 models. That button will supposedly switch from a mechanical button to a pressure-sensitive capacitive surface, a feature that could expand what the button is capable of doing.