Why the iPhone 13 Pro’s LiDAR scanner could be its secret photographic weapon

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Smartphones may have destroyed DSLRs and pushed Olympus out of the camera business last year, but their photographic innovation isn’t slowing – and the iPhone 13 Pro is expected to bring a next-gen LiDAR scanner that could take its camera to exciting new places.

So far, LiDAR (or ‘Light Detection and Ranging’) has had a relatively mild impact on the iPhone’s photo and video powers. After debuting on the iPad Pro 2020, the depth-sensing tech arrived on the iPhone 12 Pro and powered a new ‘Night mode Portrait’ trick for low-light bokeh.

All very nice, if not exactly earth-shattering. But the latest leaks and rumors suggest the iPhone 13 Pro could have a second-generation LiDAR scanner. And the combination of this with machine learning advances could be big news for mobile photography and video.

(Image credit: Apple)

We’re not just talking about improved autofocus and augmented reality (AR) games – the simmering promise of user-friendly 3D photography and video Portrait modes could be ready to boil over, with LiDAR supplying the heat. 

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