As smartphone cameras progress, more and more components and features are being added to them. One of the most common components in today’s premium smartphone cameras is the Time of Flight (ToF) sensor which works similar to Face ID, but the components used, and the implementation is different.
2019’s iPhone will reportedly sport a triple sensor rear camera but will not feature a 3D ToF sensor, as far as the rumors/leaks go. However, according to supply chain sources Apple has asked its supply chain partners to provide them with a VCSEL (vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser) component which is the main component of a rear ToF camera sensor.
Hence, Apple is gearing up to feature a ToF sensor in its iPhone 12 (iPhone 2020 models). This will greatly improve the AR experience.
We have already seen VSCEL component being used in iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max on the original depth sensor. However, it has been used on the front for Animoji and portrait mode selfies and not on the rear cameras.
According to sources, the ToF sensor Apple is currently planning on will measure distances up to 4.5 m i.e. 15 ft away which is much more than what ToF sensors on Android smartphones can manage.
Previously, it was suggested that the consumers will see a ToF sensor in iPhone 2019, but recent reports suggest otherwise. Bloomberg also confirmed that Cupertino was aiming at using the ToF in iPhone 2019 but had to delay its plans due to unknown reasons.