iPhone 11 leak suggests Apple will include ‘magic’ new 3D camera from Sony

Apple wants to put a ‘virtual goldfish’ in every living room

iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max

2019’s new iPhone 11 (or XI for Latin speakers) is now barely a prototype under heavy lockdown in Jonny Ive’s lair, but already details are leaking. First up: it could feature a new type of 3D camera, and not one that’s just for scanning your face.

Apple has apparently joined the list of smartphone manufacturers who wish to buy 3D camera sensors from Sony for 2019 smartphones. That should mean the iPhone 11 will come sporting the new 3D sensor, potentially in both the front and rear cameras. 

Obviously, the current iPhone XS already has a front 3D camera for facial unlocking. Now, a report from Bloomberg says we can expect the Sony 3D sensor toting cameras to change the way smartphone cameras are used.

This camera will be able to detect real world objects and model them in 3D using lasers. These lasers reach up to 5 metres and bounce back to the sensor so it knows how far away objects are, allowing for virtual models to be built.

What's the point? Sony says this could have uses in gaming, product sales and beyond. The technology is there, now it's time to see how people use it – hopefully Apple will come up with a novel use.

The Bloomberg article states: "Sony showed several examples using a custom phone with a 3D camera on its rear. In one app, users made specific hand gestures to cast magic spells inside a virtual game. In another, the phone calculated the depth of the room and accurately displayed a virtual goldfish swimming in front of and behind real-life objects."

Since other manufacturers are interested, we may see this as early as February in the Samsung Galaxy S10, or we may need to wait until September or thereabouts, for the iPhone 11 to arrive.

Luke Edwards

Luke is a former freelance writer for T3 with over two decades of experience covering tech, science and health. Among many others Luke wrote about health tech, software and apps, VPNs, TV, audio, smart home, antivirus, broadband, smartphones, cars and plenty more. In his free time, Luke used to climb mountains, swim outside and contort his body into silly positions while breathing as calmly as possible.