Just recently, we reported on an Apple patent sketching a dual-camera technology that would ultimately allow for slimmer mobile devices. Now, a new patent suggests that bayonet-mounted accessory lenses could be headed to future generations of iPhones and iPads. Accessory lenses for iPhones and iPads have been around for a while, and, so far, they were either clipped on to the devices or attached magnetically. In the future, however, Apple’s mobile devices could come with a bayonet mount similar to what you find in interchangeable lens cameras, such as DSLRs.
While clip-on and magnetically attached lenses are easier to produce, the bayonet mount solution has a number of advantages. For one, the bayonet will make sure that the lens always sits at the correct position. The current designs for attached lenses can easily get misaligned, which can have a negative impact on image quality. Also, clip-on lenses and magnetically attached lenses can easily get lost, as they are not attached as tightly to the camera as is a bayonet-mounted lens. A further benefit of the bayonet mount is that it can support even larger and heavier lenses, opening further possibilities for accessory lenses.
The U.S. Patent No. 8,687,299 dates from April 1, 2014, but despite the date hinting at an April Fools’ joke, it seems to be legit. It also makes a lot of sense that Apple would introduce a proprietary system to attach accessory lenses to its mobile devices, seeing how popular they have become with the introduction of truly powerful cameras in the iPhone and iPad. Also, introducing a proprietary mount means that Apple can make money off third-party manufacturers by licensing the technology, and eventually the company could introduce their own accessory lenses in time.
As always, take this with a grain of salt, as the filing of a patent only means that a technology is being researched, but not necessarily that it is going to be realized. At this time, there’s no way of telling whether such a bayonet mount for accessory lenses will ever make it to future iPhone and iPad generations, but the ability is there. Camera companies have always touted their interchangeable lenses as a strength over smartphones, but this patent could some day put an end to that argument.