Apple Job Listings Hint at iPhone 6 Camera Innovation

iphone camera

Is Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) developing a revolutionary new camera technology for the iPhone 6? The California-based company has recently added over twenty job listings on its website in what appears to be a major recruitment drive to fill positions in its camera hardware and camera software divisions. In the job listings, first spotted by Apple Insider, Apple is seeking to fill positions such as “Mechanical Engineer, Camera Hardware,” “Optical Design Engineer,” and “Camera Prototyping Engineer.” Most of the job listings were posted within the last two months and are based at the company’s Cupertino headquarters.

As smartphones have become people’s default digital cameras, the quality of these devices has become an increasingly important attribute. Some industry watchers have accused Apple of falling behind in the smartphone camera race by maintaining the 8-megapixel rear camera sensor that has been used since the iPhone 4S while its competitors have steadily boosted their devices’ pixel count. Samsung’s (SSNLF.PK) Galaxy S4 has a 13-megapixel camera, and the soon-to-be-released Galaxy S5 features a 16-megapixel camera.

Instead of concentrating solely on boosting pixel count, Apple has focused on other methods for improving overall image quality. Apple introduced the True Tone dual LED flash technology on its latest flagship iPhone. The True Tone flash automatically adjusts the flash intensity and color temperature based on the lighting environment to vastly improve the color balance in photos taken by the iPhone 5S. Apple’s recent camera division hiring spree indicates the company may be developing another similarly innovative technology for the next-generation iPhone.

The job summary for Apple’s “Camera Prototyping Engineer” listing provides a glimpse into Apple’s user-focused approach to camera design. “The Camera Experience Prototyping team is responsible for the early prototyping of the potential experience of new products or features to the wider team,” per Apple. “The technologies used for the demonstrations do not have to be representative of what will be used in production. They should be able to provide a real demonstration of the user experience defined by the User Experience Leader that allows the user value of the feature to be correctly assessed.”

Although Apple may also decide to improve the next iPhone camera by boosting the pixel count, a rumor reported by Taiwan’s China Post earlier this year suggested that Apple will stick with its strategy of improving its camera technology without increasing the pixel count. According to Nomura Securities analysts cited by the China Post, Apple will concentrate on “improved optical image stabilization” technology for the iPhone 6, rather than increasing the pixel count. According to the sources, Apple decided against the megapixel upgrade in order to retain the iPhone’s compact design.

The recent camera division job listings aren’t the only moves Apple has made that suggest that the next iPhone will feature improved camera capabilities.  Apple recently acquired SnappyLabs — the company behind the popular iPhone camera app SnappyCam. SnappyCam’s software will give Apple’s next iPhone camera an improved native burst photography mode. Apple’s next iPhone model is widely expected to be released this fall.

More From Wall St. Cheat Sheet:

Follow Nathanael on Twitter @ArnoldEtan_WSCS