For those intrigued by the notion of add-on lenses for smartphones but put off by the bulky design, Apple offers hope with a couple of recently patented designs for swapping camera components on an iPhone without turning it into an unwieldy monster.
Patent 8,639,106 describes “magnetic add-on lenses with alignment ridge.” The novelty seems to be more in the iPhone mounting than the lens itself — the phone would be equipped with contacts to recognize and align the lens and even drive a physical autofocus motor.
Patent 8,638,369 is for a “back panel for a portable electronic device with different camera lens options.” This one follows current conventions of combining a lens and image sensor into a single add-on assembly, but in this case they’re baked into a phone back panel only slightly bulkier than a standard iPhone.
Of course, neither of these has the brutal, “I’m a serious photographer” majesty of attaching 4 pounds of DSLR telephoto power to 4 ounces of camera… but we’ll let you decide whether or not that’s a good thing.
(via Apple Insider)