Opinion: Why the iPhone 6 camera is only 8 megapixels

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Date: Monday, September 29th, 2014, 18:07
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Opinion, Pictures

By Bob Snow

The iPhone 6 camera has the same 8 megapixel count as the 5s and this has spec-happy geeks bashing the phone. There are compelling reasons for going lower and I will try to lay them out.

Small sensors can suffer when they have a high pixel density. The sites that gather light become very small and they typically sacrifice low light performance. Low light performance gets traded off for higher resolution and even this becomes an issue with small sensors. No matter how high the resolution of the sensor, lens resolution comes into play much more when the sensor is small. If the sensor is small enough, the lens will not have nearly enough resolving power to take advantage of all the pixels. You need a bigger sensor for that. The image can only be as sharp as the light coming from the lens and that will most likely be the limiting factor. Think of a tiny sensor with a trillion pixels. Lens resolution will be the limiting factor.

iphone6camera

There is another reason the iPhone uses an 8MP sensor. Post processing. The latest iPhone 6 does a hell of a lot of post processing. According to Apple, “Auto image stabilization makes up for motion blur and hand shakiness by taking four photos with a short exposure time. Then the best parts of those photos are combined into one image with as little noise, subject motion, and hand shake as possible.” Apple is even using multiple exposures to eliminate noise in post processing. That is a lot of work, even for the powerful 64-bit A8 processor. The more pixels, the more processing that needs to happen. HDR is another feature that requires post processing. Multiple exposures are taken and then combined to create an image with greater dynamic range. Then there is burst mode. The camera takes up to ten images per second and then compares them all to select the best image. The biggest change to the camera of the iPhone 6 is the use of paired “focus pixels” which allow for phase detection auto focus. This is faster than contrast detection and provides big improvements to video and faster still shot focusing. Think about all of the post processing this phone does to the images, all without a hint of delay.

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Apple outlines iPhone 6, 6 Plus bend test process

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Date: Friday, September 26th, 2014, 15:11
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

History will decide if the bent iPhone 6 Plus scandal will be termed “Bendgate” or “Bendygate” or something else, but one thing’s for certain: Apple’s come up with a reply to it.

Per Macworld and The Verge, the company has stated that only nine users have complained to Apple regarding the iPhone 6 Plus bending in their pockets. The company has gone on to state that about 15,000 iPhone 6 and 6 Plus handsets were tested prior to shipping last week. While this is only a small fraction of the 10 million units sold so far, they do represent a decent sample group that endure day-to-day rigors throughout the testing process.

bendygate

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Rumor: Apple’s upcoming “iPad Pro” model could feature A8X processor, other improvements

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Date: Thursday, September 25th, 2014, 12:39
Category: Hardware, iPad, Processors, Rumor

ipadair

The iPad Pro rumors are coming in.

And they’re pointing to some interesting stuff.

Per G for Games and MacRumors, Apple’s 12.9-inch iPad Pro tablet is rumored to be landing as soon as early 2015, reports suggesting that the tablet will feature an improved A8X processor. Similar to Apple’s previous A5X and A6X processors, the A8X would presumably be an graphics-enhanced version of Apple’s current A8 processor that debuted in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

Apple’s shift away from using an “X” version of its base iOS device chip last year, opting to power the iPad Air and Retina iPad mini with the same A7 chip found in the iPhone 5s, albeit clocked slightly faster on the iPad Air. But with a higher-resolution “iPad Pro”, the graphics needs are likely high enough to require an enhanced main chip.

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Rumor: Apple to unveil iPad Air 2, updated Retina iPad mini in October

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Date: Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014, 10:10
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

ipadair

With the vast amount of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus launch kerfluffle generally behind us, it’s time to turn our attention to Apple’s next-gen iPad Air, which could be introduced sometime in October if Apple’s October 21 event is any indication.

Per Taiwan’s Commercial Times, the next-gen iPad Air will enter production in September, shipping next month.

Commercial Times also suggests that the next-generation Retina iPad mini might not launch alongside the iPad Air, coming instead in early 2015, with a 12.9-inch “iPad Pro” to follow in the second quarter of 2015.

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Feature list surfaces for USB Type 3 protocol, cables to carry audio, video, power

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Date: Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014, 10:16
Category: Hardware, News

There’s a lot to be said for a reversible cable.

And if it carries different kinds of data, that’s even better.

Per Macworld, industry groups VESA and the USB 3.0 Promoter Group outlined some of the specs of the upcoming, reversible Type-C USB cable. The cable, which is said to offer USB 3.1′s 10Gbps of data transfer speed, will also carry up to 100 watts of power and be able to deliver audio and video signals via DisplayPort technology.

usbtype3cables

These features come courtesy of the “Alternate Mode” technology introduced in the recent USB Power Delivery specification—the one that enables 100W power delivery. Alternate Mode essentially lets Type-C be used for more than mere data transfer by allowing “Structured Vendor Defined Messages” to repurpose the pins in the cable for alternative uses. VESA’s “DisplayPort Alternate Mode” announced today leverages those capabilities.

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Repair firms perform first teardowns of iPhone 6, 6 Plus handsets, report initial findings

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Date: Friday, September 19th, 2014, 09:49
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

As per usual, the cool cats at iFixit performed a full teardown of Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus handsets only hours after getting their hands on them at the first launches around the world. Over in another corner of the woods, Japanese blog Mac Otakara performed its own teardown of the smaller 4.7-inch iPhone 6 handset.

Per AppleInsider, the Mac Otakara teardown revealed an intricately designed interior with all-new components squeezing into a slightly revamped layout.

As seen in the video below, Apple was forced to make concessions in designing the ultra thin handset. For example, the 1,810mAh battery is now fastened to the aluminum chassis via adhesive tabs, a major change that sits somewhere between removable batteries from past iPhones and glued-in power packs from the current iPad lineup.

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Samsung takes swipe at iPhone 6 Plus in snarky web video

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Date: Friday, September 19th, 2014, 02:38
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Samsung

Samsung touts its Note in a new web video

If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look at the web video that Samsung posted on its YouTube channel. The video trolls Apple for coming out with a 5.5-inch iPhone (the fabled iPhone 6 Plus) two years after it released the Galaxy Note 2 in 2012.

The video highlights early negative reviews of the Galaxy Note (the WSJ said it “looks like you’re talking into a piece of toast,” Mashable called the Note “an unwieldy beast”). It then shows a recent BGR post from September 9, 2014 titled “The truth hurts, Apple fans: You can thank Samsung for your big new iPhone displays.”

The Samsung video then takes a few potshots at features that the Note has over the iPhone 6 Plus, including a stylus, handwriting recognition, and dual window mode.

While Samsung beat Apple to market with a “phablet” (anyone else dislike that term?), that doesn;t mean that it’s better. Apple’s a notorious second-mover on many technologies. It lets companies like Samsung test the waters with multiple screen sizes, then releases its version when it feels like, a) there’s enough of a market for it, and b) when the product is just right.

So… Samsung Galaxy Note 4 or iPhone 6 Plus? Which is better?

Here’s the video:

A8 processor headed for iPhone 6, 6 Plus handsets said to incorporate six-core design, other features

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Date: Monday, September 15th, 2014, 11:57
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News, Processors

Apple’s come a long way with its iPhone processors.

And, according to reports, the new A8 processor is more than 84 times faster than the processor found in the first-yen iPhone back in 2007.

Per a hearty investigation by AnandTech and AppleInsider, the A8 processor that will be found in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus handsets is likely equipped with Imagination’s six-core PowerVR Series6XT GX6650. The GX6650 is the only PowerVR part that could both match Apple’s claimed performance improvements and supports ARM’s Adaptive Scalable Texture Compression, which Apple developer documents say is available with its next-generation graphics processors.

Apple-A8

ASTC is a relatively new standard for texture compression that allows GPU vendors to make their chips more power efficient, while still maintaining high levels of performance. The codec can compress nearly any texture, no matter the format, and output in a wide variety of bitrates that can be varied based on performance requirements.

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Apple Watch announced at media event, device to be available in early 2015

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Date: Tuesday, September 9th, 2014, 15:21
Category: Hardware, News, Wearables

This definitely fit into the category of “one last thing…” that Apple historically concluded its keynote speeches with, but it might be worth the hype and anticipation.

On Tuesday, Apple announced its long-awaited Apple Watch, a device that the company said will define the emerging wearable devices market.

Per AppleInsider, the device uses a “digital crown”, a physical dial that rests on the right side of the device. Using this, users can interact with the device without a need to touch the screen, which would obscure it.

iwatchface

The crown button also acts as the home button, and can be pressed to return a user to the main screen. A button located below the crown allows users to quickly access contacts.

The face is also an input, with unique “tap” and “force press” gestures enabled by special electrodes capable of sensing pressure.

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Rumor: Apple to release both 4.7-inch, 5.5-inch iPhone 6 handsets on Friday, September 19th

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Date: Monday, September 8th, 2014, 16:50
Category: Hardware, iPhone, retail, Rumor

applelogo1

While no one knows exactly what Apple will announce at its media event tomorrow, the Europeans seem to have a few decent guesses. Per MacRumors, French web site iGen.fr claims Apple may begin selling both of its iPhone 6 models at the same time. According to the report, which is based on the same source who accurately predicted previous Apple product launches, the two models would go on sale starting Friday, September 19th. That has been the most widely expected date for the first wave of launches given Apple’s previous announcement and launch patterns.

Perhaps in line with a lack of significant leaks of parts for the larger model, a separate source indicates that the 4.7-inch model is likely to be available in higher quantities than the 5.5-inch model. Similar rumors have also been heard via a reliable source, who has indicated that two different iPhone models are incoming with the larger model shipping at only half the rates of the smaller one.

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