iPhone Camera App

History of iPhone Camera (2007-2022)

The iPhone camera system has changed dramatically since 2007. Over the years every single iPhone brought us a little or massive change in how we capture pictures or record videos. 

Everyone can say that iPhone is an easy and portable camera that always is with us in a pocket or in a bag. Because of that, we can take pictures every time and everywhere like never before. We can use iPhone to capture family moments, record videos, or do professional photography.

iPhone has not only a great camera system at the back, but iPhone also has a front-facing camera system as well which is enabling making Video phone calls via FaceTime or WhatsApp, or making selfies.

Let’s compare and look deeper into the evolution of the iPhone Camera to spot the differences in every generation and model.

First iPhone

The first iPhone was launched on June 29, 2007, and featured a little 2-megapixel rear camera without flash LED or optical stabilization. This camera at the time was really impressive and made the iPhone 2G stand out from the competition. This sensor could take pictures in 1600 x 1200 resolution with a ƒ/2.8 aperture. Unfortunately, this iPhone could not record videos and hasn’t a front-facing camera.

iPhone 3G

The next generation of the iPhone was introduced on June 9, 2008, and was called iPhone 3G. iPhone 3G has literally the same sensor as its predecessor and could take pictures with the same quality and resolution. This iPhone has introduced a geotagging feature that allows to include geographical information in the picture with a location where the picture was taken. Still in this generation of the iPhone, Apple didn’t include a front-facing camera or recording videos.

iPhone 3GS

The iPhone 3GS has been released on June 19, 2009, and brought us big changes in the camera system. A camera system in iPhone 3GS has been totally redesigned and now has 3-megapixel rear camera without flash LED and optical stabilization. This sensor could now take pictures in 2048 x 1536 resolution with a ƒ/2.8 aperture. 

This generation of the iPhone has introduced two new features; Video recording and Auto-Focus. Video Recording has the ability to capture videos with a resolution of 640 x 480 VGA at 30 fps. Auto-Focus feature and Auto-White balance camera feature have been added to iPhone for the first time. Still, iPhone 3GS lacks a front-facing camera.

iPhone 4 Camera

iPhone 4

iPhone 4 has been introduced on June 7, 2010, and features the biggest update since the original iPhone. When it comes to the camera system, iPhone 4 has finally introduced a front-facing camera with a resolution of 0.3-megapixel. Front-facing camera could be used for selfies, VGA-quality video recording, or video phone calls through FaceTime. 

Another new thing is that iPhone 4 has a new rear camera which now has a 5-megapixel sensor and can take pictures in 2592 x 1932 with a ƒ/2.8 aperture. The rear camera system in iPhone 4 features LED flash as well. iPhone 4 camera sensor is now backside-illuminated which means the quality of the pictures in a low-light environment is enhanced.

iPhone 4S

iPhone 4S has been released on October 14, 2011, and has a great update in the camera system. iPhone 4S has a new camera system that features an 8-megapixel image sensor, which could take pictures in resolution of 3264 x 2448 with a ƒ/2.4 aperture. When it comes to the image sensor, now iPhone 4S has an IR filter, which blocks the penetration of infrared light in order to produce much better photo quality. iPhone 4S camera has Video stabilization and Face detection as well. 

For the first time, Apple has designed a custom lens system for the rear camera. Now the camera system has a five-element lens in order to produce better quality pictures, but that’s not all. iPhone 4S has integrated into the A5 chip an image signal processor which is improving the quality of the pictures and videos.

iPhone 5 

iPhone 5 came out on September 12, 2012, and like every previous iPhone, this generation has camera improvements as well. iPhone 5 is sharing the same rear image sensor and lens as iPhone 4S, but Apple has added a few changes and improvements. When it comes to the camera lenses in iPhone 5, now they are covered by sapphire crystal. 

The Sapphire crystal lens cover is the most durable and scratch-resistant material after diamond and protects the camera from dust, and mechanical damage. Of course, sapphire cristal in iPhone 5 is helping to capture images and videos even in a harsh environment. 

iPhone 5 is introducing a full spectrum of software image processing and one of these improvements is the Low-light boost feature. A low-light boost enables capturing the photos in low-light settings.

Worth mentioning is that iPhone 5 has a 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera instead of the 0.3-megapixel known from previous iPhones.

iPhone 5C Camera

iPhone 5C

iPhone 5C has been introduced alongside the new iPhone 5S on September 10, 2013. iPhone 5C shared the same great camera system as its predecessor. However, the biggest changes in the camera system are included in the high-end iPhone 5S.

iPhone 5S

iPhone 5S same as iPhone 5C was introduced on September 10, 2013, and relative to its predecessor has new improvements in camera. First of all camera lenses in iPhone 5S are brighter and photos are taken with a ƒ/2.2 aperture. A front-facing camera has the same 1.2-megapixel image sensor as iPhone 5, but the new lens system is able to record videos and take photos with a ƒ/2.4 aperture.

iPhone 5S has a few updates in the camera system as well, but the most important are these two; True tone flash now utilizes two LEDs instead of just one, and Automatic image stabilization to prevent blurry photos and to support slow-motion videos.

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were introduced on September 9, 2014, and the camera system has a huge update in this generation of iPhone. iPhone 6 and 6 Plus is using the same image sensor and lens but Apple has improved them as never before. 

The camera in iPhone 6 has now focus pixels that can focus on the subject and halt the movement to get a better shot. Another novelty in this smartphone is advanced noise reduction and local tone mapping. When it comes to advanced noise reduction, it’s great for capturing in a high ISO or taking long-exposure photos. The aberrant pixels are reduced in order to generate better-quality pictures. On another hand Local tone mapping is phenomenal, this feature allows photos to look more realistic and with accurate details.

Exclusively iPhone 6 Plus is offering optical image stabilization to decrease the negative effects of shaky hands in photos and enhances the performance in low light settings. Worth noting is that iPhone 6 retains digital image stabilization.

iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus

iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S were released on September 25, 2015, and introduced a great camera and photo features. For the first time, iPhone gets a 12-megapixel image sensor with a picture resolution of 4032 x 3024 and a ƒ/2.2 aperture. The front-facing camera has been updated as well. Now FaceTime camera has a 5-megapixel sensor with a ƒ/2.2 aperture, and a new feature called Retina Flash to effectively illuminate the face during selfies.

The biggest new feature of the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus camera is Deep trend isolation. This incredible camera feature eliminates the bleeding of light from one pixel to another. This functionality utilizes tiny, light-proof pixel dividers for ultimate color accuracy. 

Another new feature on this iPhone is Live photo. This feature is perfect for capturing three-second moving photos as well as audio. This feature is great for bringing life to standard still photos.

iPhone SE

iPhone SE is a low-end Special Edition iPhone that was introduced on March 21, 2016. iPhone SE is featuring the same great rear camera system known as iPhone 6S with all its features, and the front-facing camera from iPhone 6 but with a Retina Flash feature and a ƒ/2.4 aperture.

iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus

iPhone 7 and 7 Plus were introduced on September 7, 2016. This high-end smartphone same as its predecessors is continuing to improve photo and video quality.

Both iPhone 7 versions are now featuring 7-megapixel front-facing camera with a ƒ/2.2 aperture. The main rear camera now can shoot photos with a ƒ/1.8 aperture and Quad LED flashlight.

iPhone 7 and 7 Plus is water-resistant and enables to take photos under one meter of freshwater for up to 30 minutes.

Exclusively iPhone 7 Plus has been equipped with an additional 12-megapixel telephoto camera with a ƒ/2.8 aperture to take photos of objects from the distance without losing quality.

iPhone Camera

iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus

iPhone 8 and 8 Plus has been introduced a year after iPhone 7 on September 12, 2017. This generation of the iPhone has introduced big changes in phone cameras. A rear camera now has a larger and faster image sensor which allows increasing the amount of present light in the photos by 83%. 

The next features are color filters and deeper pixels. This change is perfect for achieving improved saturation in color, a comprehensive array of colors, and reduced noise in both pictures and videos. 

The third big change is Portrait lighting. This feature paves the way for lighting effects that have the same quality as a studio portrait.

Things like a lens, camera arrangement, or aperture are the same in iPhone 8 and 8 Plus as in their predecessors.

iPhone X

iPhone X is a smartphone that was introduced alongside the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus on September 12, 2017. iPhone X features the biggest leap forward in photography and camera system since the original iPhone.

Apple has redesigned the camera system in iPhone 10. In this model rear camera now has a vertical arrangement of dual cameras with flash instead of the horizontal one known in the iPhone 8 Plus. 

Another change is a front-facing camera. Now the front camera is a part of the TrueDepth camera system which is dedicated to a facial authentication system known as Face ID. This incredible state-of-the-art technology contains; a front camera, infrared camera, flood illuminator, and dot projector. 

The biggest novelty in iPhone X is Portrait mode. This feature is made possible by the TrueDepth camera sensors that are located beneath the notch. Portrait mode creates a depth-of-field effect to capture photos with a sharp focus on the subject and blurred background.

iPhone XR

iPhone XR has been released alongside the iPhone XS and XS Max on October 26, 2018. iPhone XR didn’t introduce anything new than this what we know from iPhone X and iPhone 8. 

iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max

iPhone XS and XS Max has been introduced alongside the new iPhone XR on September 12, 2018. This generation of the iPhone came with minor improvements in the camera system.

Both iPhone XS and XS Max can now take more photos than previous generations. Thanks to the Apple A12 Bionic chip, graphic performance has increased up to 30% compared to iPhone X. That means users can enjoy taking photos longer since the smartphone is using less energy.

iPhone XS came with an enhanced front camera. Now selfies are more beautiful and reach in colors.

iPhone 11 Pro Camera

iPhone 11

iPhone 11 came out in 2019 and introduced major changes in photography on iPhones. From now every iPhone 11 has built-in two cameras; Wide and Ultra-Wide. Both cameras feature 12-megapixel sensors with a ƒ/1.8 aperture in Wide and a ƒ/2.4 aperture in Ultra-Wide. An ultra-Wide camera can be used to capture wide-angle 120-degree range scenes like landscapes or panoramas.

iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max

iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max has been released alongside the regular iPhone 11 on September 10, 2019. These two iPhones for the very first time are featuring upgraded rear camera system called the Pro camera system which contains three cameras. The first and Second cameras are the same as these in the standard iPhone 11, but the third one is a brand new telephoto module which is just amazing. Now in iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max users can take Wide, Ultra-Wide, and Telephoto shots. The telephoto camera in iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max now has a 12-megapixel sensor with ƒ/2.0 aperture.

iPhone SE 2

iPhone SE 2 has been introduced on April 15, 2020, and is featuring the same camera system as iPhone 8. This iPhone SE has the same great 12-megapixel camera with ƒ/1.8 aperture at the back of the device. On the front, iPhone SE 2 has a 7-megapixel FaceTime camera with a ƒ/2.2 aperture.

iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini

iPhone 12 and 12 mini has been introduced on October 12, 2020, and came with big changes in the camera system. Both iPhones introduced a new dual-camera system with 12-megapixel Wide camera with a ƒ/1.6 aperture and a 7-element lens, and a 12-megapixel Ultra-Wide camera with a ƒ/2.4 aperture and all-new 5-element lens. 

iPhone 12 and 12 mini feature a Night mode which enables to capture more light in all cameras. When it comes to videos, iPhone 12 can now do Night mode Time-lapse recordings.

iPhone 12 Camera

iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max

iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max were introduced alongside the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini. The new iPhones Pro features three different focal lengths of cameras to deliver a high-quality optical image. The first two cameras in iPhone 12 Pro are exactly the same as those in regular iPhone 12 and 12 mini. The third camera is the telephoto camera for stunning portraits. This telephoto camera features a 12-megapixel sensor with a 6-element lens, optical image stabilization, and a ƒ/2.0 aperture.

iPhone 12 Pro Max has an even better Pro camera system than iPhone 12 Pro. In Pro Max has installed a brand-new telephoto camera with a 65 mm focal length instead of the 52 mm known from 12 Pro. All three cameras now feature larger new image sensors to provide more details and light, and new image sensor optical stabilization with sensor-shift.

iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max feature a LiDAR scanner as well. LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging, and it measures how long it takes light to reach an object and reflect back. iPhones Pro adopted this technology to understand the world around to build a precise depth map of the scene. This is possible by adopting machine learning and depth frameworks in iOS. It enables object and room scanning, photo and video effects, and precise placement of AR objects. LiDAR sensor is used in the PRO camera system to autofocus in low-light scenes, improving the accuracy of focus and reducing capture time. LiDAR also improves depth in low light for Night mode.

iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini

iPhone 13 and 13 mini were released on September 24, 2021, and features big changes in their dual-camera system. One of the biggest changes is the arrangement of the cameras, they are not any more arranged vertically, but diagonally. The new iPhones also feature large image sensors, improved computational photography, an all-new image sensor processor, and cinematic mode. The cinematic mode can be used while filming a video in a similar way as the Portrait mode in taking photos. In essence, the Cinematic mode captures both the foreground, midground, and background of the scene while filming or editing.

iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max

iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max have been introduced alongside regular iPhone 13 and 13 mini on September 14, 2021. Both iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max feature the biggest camera advancement ever. The telephoto camera has now a new 77-millimeter focal length instead of the 65 mm known from its predecessor. The ultra-Wide camera features now a larger ƒ/1.8 aperture. A new Wide camera has a larger ƒ/1.5 aperture and a larger image sensor.

iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max now have Macro Photography. While using an Ultra-Wide camera user can now focus on objects at close distances and magnify subjects with a minimum distance of 2 centimeters.

iPhone SE 3

iPhone SE 3 has been released on March 18, 2022, and features all the great camera settings known from iPhone SE 2 and iPhone 8.

Below you can find an evolution of the camera system in every iPhone

← Move the table →

ModelYearWide Camera ResolutionWide Camera focal lengthWide Camera ApertureWide Camera Photo ResolutionTelephoto Camera ResolutionTelephoto c
Camera focal length
Telephoto Camera ApertureTelephoto Camera Photo ResolutionUltra-Wide Camera ResolutionUltra-Wide Camera focal lengthUltra-Wide Camera ApertureUltra-Wide Camera Photo ResolutionFront Camera ResolutionFront Camera Aperture
iPhone20072 Mpix37 mmƒ/2.81600 x 1200
iPhone 3G20082 Mpix37 mmƒ/2.81600 x 1200
iPhone 3GS20093 Mpix37 mmƒ/2.82048 x 1536
iPhone 420105 Mpix35 mmƒ/2.82592 x 19360.3 MpixUnknown
iPhone 4S20118 Mpix35 mmƒ/2.43264 x 24480.3 MpixUnknown
iPhone 520128 Mpix33 mmƒ/2.43264 x 24481.2 MpixUnknown
iPhone 5C20138 Mpix33 mmƒ/2.43264 x 24481.2 MpixUnknown
iPhone 5S20138 Mpix29 mmƒ/2.23264 x 24481.2 Mpixƒ/2.4
iPhone 620148 Mpix29 mmƒ/2.23264 x 24481.2 Mpixƒ/2.2
iPhone 6 Plus20148 Mpix29 mmƒ/2.23264 x 24481.2 Mpixƒ/2.2
iPhone 6S201512 Mpix29 mmƒ/2.24032 x 30245 Mpixƒ/2.2
iPhone 6S Plus201512 Mpix29 mmƒ/2.24032 x 30245 Mpixƒ/2.2
iPhone SE201612 Mpix29 mmƒ/2.24032 x 30241.2 Mpixƒ/2.4
iPhone 7201612 Mpix28 mmƒ/1.84032 x 30247 Mpixƒ/2.2
iPhone 7 Plus201612 Mpix28 mmƒ/1.84032 x 302412 Mpix56 mmƒ/2.84032 x 30247 Mpixƒ/2.2
iPhone 8201712 Mpix28 mmƒ/1.84032 x 30247 Mpixƒ/2.2
iPhone 8 Plus201712 Mpix28 mmƒ/1.84032 x 302412 Mpix52 mmƒ/2.84032 x 30247 Mpixƒ/2.2
iPhone X201712 Mpix26 mmƒ/1.84032 x 302412 Mpix52 mmƒ/2.44032 x 30247 Mpixƒ/2.2
iPhone XR201812 Mpix26 mmƒ/1.84032 x 30247 Mpixƒ/2.2
iPhone XS201812 Mpix26 mmƒ/1.84032 x 302412 Mpix52 mmƒ/2.44032 x 30247 Mpixƒ/2.2
iPhone XS Max201812 Mpix26 mmƒ/1.84032 x 302412 Mpix52 mmƒ/2.44032 x 30247 Mpixƒ/2.2
iPhone 11201912 Mpix26 mmƒ/1.84032 x 302412 Mpix13 mmƒ/2.44032 x 30247 Mpixƒ/2.2
iPhone 11 Pro201912 Mpix26 mmƒ/1.84032 x 302412 Mpix52 mmƒ2.04032 x 302412 Mpix13 mmƒ/2.44032 x 302412 Mpixƒ/2.2
iPhone 11 Pro Max201912 Mpix26 mmƒ/1.84032 x 302412 Mpix52 mmƒ2.24032 x 302412 Mpix13 mmƒ/2.44032 x 302412 Mpixƒ/2.2
iPhone SE 2202012 Mpix28 mmƒ/1.84032 x 30247 Mpixƒ/2.2
iPhone 12202012 Mpix26 mmƒ/1.64032 x 302412 Mpix13 mmƒ/2.44032 x 302412 Mpixƒ/2.2
iPhone 12 mini202012 Mpix26 mmƒ/1.64032 x 302412 Mpix13 mmƒ/2.44032 x 302412 Mpixƒ/2.2
iPhone 12 Pro202012 Mpix26 mmƒ/1.64032 x 302412 Mpix52 mmƒ2.04032 x 302412 Mpix13 mmƒ/2.44032 x 302412 Mpixƒ/2.2
iPhone 12 Pro Max202012 Mpix26 mmƒ/1.64032 x 302412 Mpix65 mmƒ/2.24032 x 302412 Mpix13 mmƒ/2.44032 x 302412 Mpixƒ/2.2
iPhone 13202112 Mpix26 mmƒ/1.64032 x 302412 Mpix13 mmƒ/2.44032 x 302412 Mpixƒ/2.2
iPhone 13 mini202112 Mpix26 mmƒ/1.64032 x 302412 Mpix13 mmƒ/2.44032 x 302412 Mpixƒ/2.2
iPhone 13 Pro202112 Mpix26 mmƒ/1.54032 x 302412 Mpix77 mmƒ/2.84032 x 302412 Mpix13 mmƒ/1.84032 x 302412 Mpixƒ/2.2
iPhone 13 Pro Max202112 Mpix26 mmƒ/1.54032 x 302412 Mpix77 mmƒ/2.84032 x 302412 Mpix13 mmƒ/1.84032 x 302412 Mpixƒ/2.2
iPhone SE 3202212 Mpix28 mmƒ/1.84032 x 30247 Mpixƒ/2.2

Article last update: July 26, 2022
Article next update September/October 2022

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