The Patent behind Apple's iPhone 11 & 11 Pro Surfaces illustrating Known and Unknown Camera Configurations
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that generally relates to structural components for securing a camera module in an enclosure for a portable electronic device such as the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro. More particularly, the patent relates to support structures for securing multiple camera modules. Did Apple consider other camera configurations for the iPhone 11 Pro? Yes, they did and we include those in this report.
Apple's patent filing notes that the portable electronic device includes a housing member defining an external sidewall, a first glass cover and a second glass cover, where the second glass cover includes a first region having a first exterior surface, a second region having a second exterior surface vertically displaced from the first exterior surface, where the second region includes a first opening, a second opening, and a third opening, and a transition region having an exterior surface that extends between the first exterior surface to the second exterior surface. The portable electronic device further includes a first camera module disposed within the first opening, a second camera module disposed within the second opening, a strobe module disposed within the third opening, and a trim structure having an edge that overlays the second region of the second glass cover.
According to some embodiments, a portable electronic device is described. The portable electronic device includes a housing including metal side walls coupled to a glass back wall, where the glass back wall includes a first section that transitions to a second section having a planar surface, where a transitional section having a curved surface separates the first and second sections, and openings disposed within the second section.
The portable electronic device further includes a first trim structure having an edge that overlays a portion of the planar surface of the second section, a second trim structure having a protrusion that extends proud of an external surface of the edge of the first trim structure, and first, second, and third camera modules that are each disposed within a respective opening of the openings of the second section.
The portable electronic device includes a metal housing having a top wall, a bottom wall, and side walls, where the top wall, the bottom wall, and the side walls are electrically isolated by dielectric elements. The portable electronic device further includes first and second glass covers coupled to the side walls, the second glass cover including an external surface that transitions to a raised section having a planar surface, where the planar surface includes first, second, and third openings.
The portable electronic device further includes first and second camera modules that are each disposed within a corresponding opening of the first and second openings, wherein centers of the first and second camera modules are aligned to each other along an axis and a strobe module disposed within the third opening, wherein the third opening is equidistant from the first and second openings.
Apple's patent FIGS. 1A-1B below illustrate front and rear isometric views of an iPhone 11 Pro with a triple camera
Apple's patent FIG. 3B above illustrates that the raised portion #370 has a generally polygonal shape with curved/rounded edges. In some examples, the raised portion may have a shape that corresponds to a circle, ellipse, rectangle, trapezoid, polygon or square as long as such a shape does not impact the operation and functionality of the camera modules, strobe module, and microphone module. The shape of the raised portion may be a design choice and the shape shown in FIG. 3B should not be considered limiting of other possibilities.
In patent FIG. 3D below we can see the iPhone 11 dual camera configuration.
Patent FIGS. 3F and 3H above illustrate two alternative camera configurations contemplated for the triple camera iPhone 11 Pro.
For the nitty-gritty details, review Apple's patent application 20200221002 that was filed in Q3 2019 and published today by the U.S. Patent Office.