These renderings by Antonio DeRosa imaging an Apple action cam that could take on the likes of GoPro and ultimately win. The curvaceous white and black shells remind me of the original iPods or the early iPhone designs. More recent Apple designs have brought in harder edges, like the ones on the iPhone 12, iPad Pro and the new iMac M1. That said, it’s still a great design, and shows just how well Apple would fit into this category.
DeRosa’s AirCam (opens in new tab) features a front LCD display, taken from the Apple Watch. This could presumably provide shooting information or a small selfie screen. The rear is taken up by a larger screen with a similar interface to the iPhone. This would be used as the main live view display, as well as giving you menu controls – choosing between still images, video, image review and settings.
The top has a single shutter button and there is a USB-C port and SDHC card slot on the sides. Other functionality includes Siri voice assistant and a Memoji option. DeRosa also has the cameras in four other colors, though these aren’t colors we’ve seen on recent iPhones. The green looks almost military (which I guess would work for an action cam) and the pink is very bubble gum in its tone.
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Though it doesn’t take much to realize that this is no authentic Apple product, the idea of an Apple action camera isn’t as crazy as it first sounds. After all, Apple already does cameras very well. The three-camera array on the iPhone 12 Pro Max aren’t just good phone cameras, they are class-leading optical devices.
The image sensors used in action cameras aren’t that much bigger than those used in phones. GoPro has used a 1/2.3in sensor in all its recent models, with new models featuring a 16mm f/2.8 lens and video capability of either 4K @60fps (Hero 8) or 5K @30fps (Hero 9). The DJI Osmo also uses a 1/2.3 in sensor.
The main camera on the iPhone 12 Pro Max describes the sensor as having 1.7 µm pixels. With a 12-million-pixel resolution, that makes it roughly a 1/2in sensor – larger than the one on the GoPro. And while this camera on the iPhone 12 Pro Max has a 26mm f/1.6 lens, the ultra-wide camera uses a 13mm equivalent.
The iPhone is also capable of 4K video @ 60fps, meaning it could certainly hold its own for video use. There are more powerful action cams, however. The Sony RX0 features a 1-inch sensor, and the iPhone is yet to reach the 5k video of the GoPro models. So, while Apple camera units certainly have the potential to be used in action cameras – or even drones. I doubt we will see one anytime soon. Though I do hope Apple proves me wrong.