Apple’s iPhone 7 has long been rumored to sport dual cameras, but the smartphone might have another interesting photographic trick up its sleeve when it arrives: optical zoom. A new patent from Apple shows how they could make this happen without making the phone bulkier.
The patent, posted first by Apple Insider, shows a folding telephoto lens design that would allow Apple to add optical zoom to the phone without a protruding camera.
Here’s a look at the patent, which details what Apple is calling a “folded telephoto camera lens system”:
This isn’t the first time a patent for a periscope-like camera system has come out of Apple—this one from February 2015 immediately comes to mind. But with rumors claiming the iPhone 7 will boast one wide angle and one telephoto lens, it makes more sense than ever that Apple would be experimenting with optical zoom for that telephoto option.
Folded optics aren’t new, but Apple integrating them into the iPhone 7 (or any future model) would likely mean the beginning of the end for bulky phone cameras like this one.