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Apple considering swappable iPhone camera lenses, patent suggests

iPhone 4 cameraThe astonishing competitiveness of the still young smartphone market forces tech companies to constantly innovate in a bid to keep ahead of the game and tempt consumers to reach for their wallet.

Patent filings give us a good idea, well ahead of time, of the kinds of areas and ideas handset makers are looking at, with the latest application from Apple indicating the possibility of interchangeable lenses for the iPhone’s camera.

The application, picked up on by Apple Insider, was published by the US Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday, although it was actually filed at the end of 2010.

Called “Back Panel for a Portable Electronic Device with Different Camera Lens Options”, the application throws up the idea of an iPhone with a removable back panel, allowing the user to attach other panels incorporating a variety of different lenses. There’s also a diagram showing a back panel with two lenses at opposite corners, the idea being that you’d flip it around to swap lenses.

With Apple well known for its clean product designs, underscored recently by the company’s head designer Jony Ive talking of his quest for simplicity — “We’re trying to bring simplicity and clarity, we’re trying to order the products….Our goal is to try to bring a calm and simplicity to what are incredibly complex problems” — it’s a bit of a stretch to think that a future iPhone will incorporate any of the designs suggested in the patent, but hey, you never know. Perhaps by having the patent the Cupertino company just wants to ensure no other phone maker takes the idea, even if they don’t use it themselves.

If you’re an advocate of the iPhone’s camera, has there ever been a moment where you wished you had a different lens at your disposal, or is the camera’s point-and-shoot simplicity its beauty — and the precise reason why you use it to take most of your pics? And anyway, if you really must have some different glass in front of your iPhone’s camera lens, there are plenty of third-party products already on the market.

[Image via engadget]