Apple doesn’t seem to care the iPhone’s camera bump is now massive

You don’t need to be a professional photographer to be able to see that the iPhone’s camera has improved significantly since Steve Jobs first unveiled the “Jesus phone” a decade ago and forever changed the world.

Prioritizing photography has meant, however, a compromise (or “pragmatic optimization” according to chief design officer Jony Ive) to the iPhone’s industrial design: a camera bump. 

We’ve had a few generations to get over the bump. But now that the iPhone X is here with the biggest, bulgiest camera bump ever, there’s no better time to look back at how it’s evolved over the years for the sake of better pictures.

Things weren’t always so bumpy. From the original iPhone (2007) all the way through to the iPhone 5C (2013), the rear “iSight” camera was always flush with the body, meaning it didn’t protrude.

However, the jump to the iPhone 6 with the thinnest body (6.1mm) of any iPhone to date meant the camera’s lens system couldn’t fit inside anymore. 

Nobody really likes a camera bump — try placing your bump-endowed iPhone on a table and then tap the screen and you’ll see why it’s so despised — but it does come with the advantage of better picture quality without making the iPhone thicker than it needs to be.

iPhone “2G” (2007)

Image: lili sams/mashable

In 2007, the iPhone had only a 2-megapixel camera on the back. That’s photos with 1,600 x 1,200 resolution, and it was impressive at the time.

The phone is thick by today’s standards, but its camera hole was quite small, measuring only 4.5mm (diameter).

iPhone 3G (2008)

Image: LILI SAMS/MASHABLE

The iPhone 3G didn’t come with any changes to the camera. It was still a 2-megapixel shooter. But somehow the diameter of the camera grew by 0.5mm.

iPhone 3GS (2009)

Image: LILI SAMS/MASHABLE

Though it looked identical to the iPhone 3G, the 3GS came with a bump up in resolution to 3-megapixels, and added video recording with VGA (640 x 480) resolution at 30 fps.

It was also the first camera to come with auto-focus and auto-white balance. Still no camera bump yet, though.

iPhone 4 (2010)

Image: LILI SAMS/MASHABLE

The infamous iPhone that was accidentally left behind at a bar by an Apple employee and then leaked on the internet and royally pissed Steve Jobs off. Ah, yes, the iPhone 4

It’s with this iPhone that we began to see the intense focus on photography take shape. The rear camera increased to 5-megapixels and added an LED flash. Video recording also improved to HD (720p) quality.

It was also the first time Apple used multiple lens elements within the camera to improve picture quality. This change also meant the camera diameter grew to about 6mm.

But maybe more significant (for the tweens, especially) was the addition of a front-facing camera for selfies and FaceTime video calls. The front camera only had 0.3-megapixels, but at least it could also record VGA-quality videos at 30 fps.

iPhone 4S (2011)

Image: LILI SAMS/MASHABLE

Even though it was an “S” model, the 4S increased the rear camera’s resolution yet again to 8-megapixels, finally making it worthy of replacing most point-and-shoots. Video recording jumped again, too, to full HD resolution. 

With an additional lens element (five compared to four on the iPhone 4) and Apple’s first image signal processor built into its custom A5 chip, the 4S was able to provide face detection for still photos and about 30 percent better photo clarity and color accuracy compared to the iPhone 4’s camera. Low-light shooting also improved quite a bit over the previous generation.

The camera hole remained the same size and flush as on iPhone 4.

iPhone 5 (2012)

Image: LILI SAMS/MASHABLE

Though it retained the iPhone 4S’s 8-megapixels (surprisingly the camera cutout shrank by a hair), the actual camera sensor improved to take better photos in low-light and snap pictures quicker.

After two generations of VGA-quality selfie cameras, the iPhone 5 boosted peoples’ selfie game to 1.2 megapixels, letting us actually see some detail on our faces for once. Apple also added HD 720p video recording for the front camera.

iPhone 5S (2013)

Image: LILI SAMS/MASHABLE

The last generation to sport a flush camera, the iPhone 5S kept the camera resolution at 8 megapixels, but improved the aperture from f/2.4 to f/2.2 to let in more light for low-light photos.

The flash got an upgrade from a single LED to a dual LED “True Tone” module. With the new flash, users could shoot flash photography with more accurate colors as opposed to the washed out ones from a single LED.

Another first for the iPhone 5S’s camera: slow-motion video capture at 120 fps and 10 fps continuous shooting.

iPhone 5C (2013)

Image: LILI SAMS/MASHABLE

Launched alongside the iPhone 5S, the 5C was supposed to be the low-cost iPhone to rule them. In reality, it was really just an iPhone 5 with colorful new plastic shells.

It had the same camera optics as the iPhone 5. But, hey, no bump!

iPhone 6 (2014)

Image: LILI SAMS/MASHABLE

And now we get to the bump. The iPhone 6 was the very first version to include an unsightly bulge where the camera module was placed. Protruding 1mm from its aluminum unibody, many people weren’t happy with it.

That bump came with a number of advantages despite having the same 8 megapixels and five-element lens design as its predecessor. 

Not only did it come with the usual sharper pictures and low-light enhancements, video capture got a nice upgrade.

60 fps video recording was added as an option alongside the existing 30 fps. And slow-motion video recording doubled from 120 fps to 240 fps for even more time-freezing footage.

iPhone 6 Plus (2014)

Image: LILI SAMS/MASHABLE

The iPhone 6 Plus had the exact same camera as the iPhone 6, with one big exception: optical image stabilization (OIS).

OIS reduced the changes of getting shooting blurry photos and videos by counteracting your shaky hands.

iPhone 6S (2015)

Image: LILI SAMS/MASHABLE

After years of sticking with an 8-megapixel sensor, Apple finally moved up to 12 megapixels, allowing for even larger, higher-quality images.

The bump remained the same as before, color-matching the metal frame.

The iPhone 6S’s camera also added 4K video recording, increased panorama resolutions from 43-megapixels to 63 megapixels, and gave us Live Photos.

Selfies also got a major leap from 1.2 megapixels to 5 megapixels. Retina flash, where the screen flashes bright white just before selfies are taken, made skin tones look more natural.

iPhone 6S Plus (2015)

Image: LILI SAMS/MASHABLE

Like the iPhone 6 Plus, the 6S Plus had the exact same cameras as the iPhone 6S, but with optical image stabilization.

iPhone SE (2016)

Image: LILI SAMS/MASHABLE

The iPhone SE is an anomaly. Not only did it have the iPhone 5S’s body, but its cameras were a mix of the iPhone 6S and 5S.

The back camera is the same as the iPhone 6S’s: 12-megapixels. But the front camera is the 5S’s 1.2 megapixel shooter.

I guess if you really want to be technical about things, the SE is truly the last iPhone with no camera bump — even if it was practically a redesigned version of the iPhone 5S.

iPhone 7 (2016)

Image: lili sams/mashable

Up until now, the camera bumps have been little metal rings, but on the iPhone 7, Apple expertly blended the bump so that it melts into the body. It’s a bigger bump (7.6mm diameter for the lens and  for the 11mm for the diameter of the bump’s ring from 7.1mm on the iPhone 6), but it’s a much prettier one, even if it means more wobbling on a tabletop.

In addition to adding a sixth lens element for increased photo sharpness, Apple also finally upgraded the len’s aperture to f/1.8 for low-light performance to match the very best Android phones at the time, Apple also added optical image stabilization (a first for the 4.7-inch models).

The selfie camera also received a resolution increase to 7 megapixels.

iPhone 7 Plus (2016)

Image: LILI SAMS/MASHABLE

Once again, the plus-sized iPhone received a few camera extras. Adding a secondary “2x telephoto” lens next to the main camera let you get twice as close to your subjects with the tap of a button. 

Most people will agree the larger and thicker bump (20.6mm long x 12mm wide x 1.33mm thickness) is worth it for the “professional-quality” Portrait mode photos that blur out the background.

The second lens also boosts digital zoom from the 7’s 5x to 10x.

iPhone 8 (2017)

Image: LILI SAMS/MASHABLE

Switching to a glass back is great for wireless charging, but also means the the camera bump can no longer be a part of the body. Apple returned to a metal bump like on iPhone 6S. The bump’s diameter is slightly smaller at 9.6mm and thinner at 0.75mm thick.

On iPhone 8, the camera’s still rocking a 12-megapixel sensor with f/1.8 aperture, but there’s a new “Slow Sync” flash feature that’ll evenly light flash photography to make them look more realistic. Instead of a bright subject (where the flash hits) and a dark background (where the flash can’t reach), Slow Sync exposes both so that your photos sometimes don’t even look like they were taken with the flash on.

For video, iPhone 8 adds the option to record footage at 24 and 60 fps.

HDR’s also been improved to the point where the camera’s default setting is Auto HDR and you can’t even turn it off unless you go into the Settings app.

iPhone 8 Plus (2017)

Image: LILI SAMS/MASHABLE

The iPhone 8 Plus’s cameras are identical to the 8’s. And once again it has the 2x lens that its smaller brother doesn’t.

So you get the Portrait mode on the 8 Plus like you did on the 7 Plus, but you also get a new Portrait lighting feature, which simulates various studio lighting setups.

And just like on the 7 Plus, the camera bump’s larger than on the 8’s because of the extra lens. Tat said it’s still slightly smaller than the iPhone 7 Plus’, measuring at 20.4mm long x 10.1mm wide x 1.2m thick.

iPhone X (2017)

Image: LILI SAMS/MASHABLE

And at last, we arrive at the iPhone X. The new iPhone with an unusually gigantic camera bump.

This massive tumor on the backside is the first time Apple’s combined  dual cameras together with a flash. The bump itself is the largest on any iPhone and is 24.19mm long x 11.7mm wide x 1.22 mm thick. 

It’s also the first time Apple’s switched from aligning the dual cameras  horizontally to the Apple logo to vertically. 

The iPhone X has the nearly the same dual cameras as the iPhone 8 Plus. The two differences on the X: the 2x lens is f/2.4 versus f2/8 on the 8 Plus, which means better low-light photos. And the second lens also comes with OIS.

However, the front camera does have one new trick: Portrait mode thanks to its TrueDepth sensor tucked inside the notch.

A bumpy future ahead

Image: lili sams/mashable

Pray all you want, but chances are the camera bump is not going away anytime soon — not until the camera components can somehow be miniaturized to the point where they’re not thicker than the iPhone’s body.

In our iPhone 2020 design study, we posited that Apple will always choose to improve the iPhone’s cameras instead of simply shrinking the technology. If Apple can do both, it’ll surely do it — Jony Ive would probably be overjoyed. But there’s no way the company’s going to sacrifice the chance to improve photos and videos just to remove the bump.

It’s just an eyesore you’ll have to live with. So to borrow and remix a quote from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, repeat after us: I’m one with the bump. The bump is with me.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/11/03/every-apple-iphone-x-camera-bump-comparison/

Author: Billy Roland

Share This Post On