According to a forecast by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple will not add a periscope lens to iPhones until 2023. But the company is certainly working on the case and has at least two patents on periscopes.
One was dug up by Apple patent earlier today and shows a periscope system with two prisms and a stack of lenses between the two. This stack provides autofocus and can also be configured to perform optical image stabilization.
This is interesting because the typical periscopes we have seen in smartphones only have one lens and it is also used for OIS purposes, not the lenses that follow it. However, Apple’s patent provides the ability to use one or both prisms to make OIS.
It seems that the primary concerns are to keep the module thin (small z-height) and to keep the aperture at f / 2.4 or lighter. The patent mentions only 3x optical zoom, which can also be achieved with traditional lenses.
Yesterday, Elec reported that LG InnoTek and Corning are investigating liquid lenses and have filed nine patents in the United States (owned 50/50). The two companies have also shared with each other several other related patents in the United States and Korea.
The first floating lens on the mobile phone was shown on Xiaomi’s Mi Mix Fold, where it was used to transform the telephoto lens (usually used for zoomed photos) into a macro lens that can focus on only 3 cm.
Apparently, liquid lenses also have applications in periscope design. An insider claims that this could be used to circumvent periscope zoom patents owned by Samsung’s subsidiary Corephotonics. There is some history here when Corephotonics filed a lawsuit against Apple in 2019 claiming infringement of several of its patents from the iPhone’s dual camera technology.