The iPhone 12 Pro camera carries a LiDAR sensor, what is it?

LiDAR sensor

Apple is bringing many new features to its recently launched iPhone 12 quartet. One of them is the LiDar sensor on the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max. In the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max camera module, you can see the LiDAR sensor which is under the camera array and flash. This sensor is black and the size is about the same as the flash on it.

Apple prides the LiDAR sensor as one of the superior features of the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max. But what does this sensor actually do?

LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging. This feature was originally used by autonomous cars to map the area around it by measuring the distance of objects through reflected light rays.

Apple has previously used this sensor in the iPad Pro launched in March 2020. But the main purpose of the feature in the iPad Pro is to provide a better augmented reality (AR) experience.

The LiDAR sensor used in the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max is claimed by Apple to help in three ways, namely effects for photos and videos, placing AR objects precisely and scanning objects and rooms.

The last two functions may only be used for developers and businesses, such as constructions that need to map a room. For ordinary consumers, photo and video effects are certainly the most attractive functions.

LiDAR can work in dark conditions by firing a laser to determine the distance. Because of this, Apple uses it to improve autofocus on the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max.

Apple claims that the LiDAR sensor pushes the autofocus speed on the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max to six times faster than autofocus on a normal camera. In addition, the LiDAR sensor also allows the iPhone to take photos in portrait mode in low light conditions.

LiDAR technology is actually similar to the Time-of-Flight (ToF) sensor that is widely used by Samsung and Huawei flagship phones. But they both work differently.

Having a LiDAR sensor on your smartphone will encourage developers to develop even further AR applications. As Snapchat has confirmed they will provide LiDAR-based filters in their application.

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