My roundup of leaked information, predictions and dreams:
Rumors have been floating around that iPhones may finally receive a larger image sensor. A dummy model for the single lens 6.1" iPhone has a bigger lens cover than the iPhone 7. https://bit.ly/2lgXkis
The last significant bump occurred with the iPhone 5s. It would be great if the main sensor was enlarged to at least 1/2.6", so that the pixel size could hit the sweet spot of 1.4 microns for performance.
IMPROVED PORTRAIT MODE AND PORTRAIT LIGHTING
From the iOS 12 notes:
"Improved Portrait Lighting Portrait mode photos are better than ever. Camera now generates a mask when it detects a person and intelligently and elegantly separates the person from the scene.
Portrait Segmentation API A new API for third-party developers allows for the separation of layers in a photo, such as separating the background from the foreground."
Probably similar to to what the Pixel does.
Can't find the source, but an article about the decision to focus on reliability in iOS 12 reported that a planned overhaul of the camera interface had been pushed back to 2019.
NUMBER OF LENSES
First rumors told us we may see a three lens iPhone next year, then some stated it may even be this year, though they may have just been confused about information from case makers that the larger iPhone X would have three holes in its camera module. The smaller iPhone X already has three holes - one is for the flash.
I would love to see an iPhone SE type phone with two lenses. We can wish.
Ming-Chi Kuo said that the design of the cameras would stay the same (https://bit.ly/2t8TTPs), but I think this is mainly in reference to lens brightness. Significant changes to the sensor and camera quality can occur even if the f-stop of the lens stays the same. Nonetheless, the rumor speaks of new lens designs (possibly with more elements or even the inclusion of glass elements) coming later.
More megapixels this year or next? (https://bit.ly/2lkUfy4) I hope not.
For years, the iPhone focusing has been solid, but slower than Samsung. I would love to see lightning fast focusing, but we will see if it comes. This year's Xiaomi flagships have fast on sensor focusing on sensors produced by Sony. iPhones have historically also uded Sony sensors, so there is a possibility we will see a nice bump in speed.
IMAGE SENSOR TECHNOLOGY (IN THE YEARS TO COME)
As every year, we can expect a new, slightly improved image sensor.
Looking further ahead, Apple has bought image sensor company InVisage (https://bit.ly/2t8UEIi), which focuses on sensitivity. We'll see if this brings any sensor performance improvements in the future.
In general, a global shutter (the ability for the camera to take a picture truly in one moment in time, and not by scanning pixels after each other, which causes strange effects when taking pictures of moving objects) or pixels that capture all colors (would improve low light perfomance, resolution and could elimiante th eneed for a color filter which would mean even more light would get in the camera) are things the industry is trying to achieve and I hope we see soon.
PRO MODE/RAW CAPTURE
With the camera interface overhaul postponed, we probably can't hope for something like this year, although native camera RAW capture would be possible and nice, as unprobable a step from Apple it would be.
In recent iPhones, the contrast and colors of images seem less natural to me than in some earlier models. Some people like this, but I would love it if there was at least an option for the iPhone to capture the world more naturally, either as standard or via an option buried in the settings. The hardware of iPhone cameras has been improving, but I still prefer the photos of the 5s over the 7 and 8 due to unnatural colors, high contrast, and smudging of noise in the newer models... This would be the one single largest improvement for me in a new camera.
WHAT HAVE YOU HEARD? WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE?