iPhone 12 may feature sensor-based camera stabilization system

Apple will replace optical image stabilization (OIS) with sensor-shift stabilization for its iPhone 12 model, a recent leak claims. The change in stabilization would only apply to the higher-end versions of the company's 2020 iPhone model, the leak alleges, though it's unclear whether the new system would improve image quality. This type of image stabilization is typically found in dedicated mirrorless digital cameras.

At this point in time, Apple uses optical image stabilization in order to reduce the image blurs that would otherwise result from small vibrations, such as the shaking of the iPhone user's hand. Optical image stabilization works by physically shifting the elements within the camera lens to compensate for movement; software is typically used to improve the final image.

Cameras have popularly used optical image stabilization as the primary way to reduce image blurs; this is due to a number of reasons, including better effectiveness in low-light conditions, cheaper costs, and the ability to see the stabilization when previewing the image. Sensor-shift stabilization differs in that it involves physically moving the camera's sensor rather than the lens element.

Sensor stabilization has proven less popular over the years due to its historically higher cost and lower effectiveness in low-light environments. General technological improvements have reduced these issues, however, making the upside of this technology more appealing: it, for one thing, reduces lens size by placing the stabilization system in the camera body rather than within the lens.

According to a leak from Digitimes last week, Apple plans to use sensor-based camera stabilization in the higher end versions of its iPhone 12 model. The reasons for the company's alleged decision to change the stabilization system it uses is unclear; the move may be a way for Apple to reduce the width of the iPhone's camera by moving the stabilization system to within the phone's body.