updated 03:45 pm EST, Fri January 8, 2010
Apple said to be shopping for bulk orders
The next-generation iPhone -- expected to launch this summer -- could have LED flash built in, a report suggests. People described as "familiar with Apple's initiative" claim that the company is actively hunting for tens of millions of LED flash components, which would be delivered sometime this year. Philips' Lumileds division is said to be the main contender as a partner, and may already have a contract.
Adding flash to the iPhone's camera would address one of its long-standing weaknesses, low-light photography. Like most cameras the iPhone is incapable of producing sharp images without flash, or else a very strong ambient light source. Other smartphones, such as the Pre and the Droid, already have built-in flashes.
LED is said to offer the advantage of size, low power consumption and little interference. The technology could be paired with a five-megapixel sensor, an upgrade from the 3.2-megapixel sensor used in the iPhone 3GS. Apple is believed to be contemplating an order of 40 to 45 million sensors, which could mean a similar number of iPhones will be produced. Only 20 to 21 million are thought to have been shipped during 2009.
Rumors persist however that Apple would like to add a camera to the iPod touch. The third-generation Touch was in fact widely expected to have one by analysts and the media, but may have had to forego it due to manufacturing problems. Aside from the iPhone, the only Apple handheld with a camera is the iPod nano.