A patent filing published Thursday and discovered by AppleInsider shows an interesting concept for an iPhone with swappable camera lenses.
The application, “Back Panel for a Portable Electronic Device with Different Camera Lens Options,” was originally filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in late 2010.
Currently, the iPhone and other iOS devices don’t allow users to change the camera optics or lens. But the application outlines a system that would bring swappable optics to portable devices.
“It would be desirable to provide a structure for a compact device that allows the end user to reconfigure the optical arrangement of the device while retaining the benefits of assembling the device using a pre-assembled digital imaging subsystem,” the filing reads.
Instead of a non-removable backplate like in current iOS devices, the application details a removable back plate that would expose the camera optics.
AppleInsider relays some possible uses for the system. First, with a removable IR-cut filter on the backplate, photographers could capture black-and-white images in extremely low light conditions. Also, the system could allow for a close-up lens that would allow for extreme macro photography.
Third-party options like Olloclip offer similar functionality for iPhone shutterbugs right now by providing a fisheye, wide-angle, and macro lens. But a built-in system would be much easier to swap out and would let an iPhone retain its portability factor.
I like the idea of the proposed system and hope it will come to the iPhone and other iOS devices sooner rather than later. While it doesn’t look like it will appear in the new iPhone, I think the swappable lens idea could help Apple make an even bigger dent in the portable camera market.