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


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.