Apple’s next iPhone might up the AR ante with frickin’ laser beams

Forget a better display and faster cellular modem, a new report suggests that the next iPhone will have a laser. That said, the laser might not work quite the way you think.

A new report from TF Securities analyst (and Apple whisperer) Ming-Chi Kuo on Monday suggests that the next versions of the iPhone will have rear cameras that allow the phones to determine how far away things are from them, CNBC News reports.

For instance, if you’re looking at your sofa through the phone’s camera it will be able to determine that your couch is 2 feet away.

That feat will be thanks to a new sensor installed in the cameras called ToF, which stands for Time of Flight. That ability to determine how far away objects are will come in handy for features like augmented reality and computer vision.

The technology will essentially be a built-in invisible laser that will bounce off objects and then send that information back to the phone, enabling your iPhone to accurately determine how far away those objects are. Aside from helping with features we can’t even think of yet, the lasers could also improve photo quality and features such as Apple’s popular portrait mode.

Kuo has previously suggested that Apple will release three iPhones in 2020. Monday’s report suggests that only two of those phones will have the laser technology built in.

“We predict that will all be equipped with front Face ID, and two of the new models will provide rear ToF. We estimate that shipments of iPhone models equipped with front and rear VCSEL (front structure light and rear ToF) will be 45mn units in 2020,” Kuo wrote.

Over the weekend, Kuo released another report regarding next year’s iPhones which dealt specifically with the phone’s connectivity.

While he previously said that only two of the three new iPhones in 2020 would have 5G connectivity, this weekend he changed that prediction to include all three new devices. That change was due in part to Apple’s recent acquisition of Intel’s modem business. Kuo says that the acquisition puts Apple in a better position to offer 5G connectivity sooner thanks to those expanded resources.

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