4K camera in the iPhone 5S?

I think there isn't much doubt left as to whether we're gonna see an iPhone "S" update in the September 10 event.

As we all know, the tech press and "normal" crowd too is generally not very excited, to put it nicely, about these "S" updates. Heck, even Apple isn't, I think. But reinventing the phone year in year out is not an easy job by any means.

But unlike conventional "S" updates, there's a(nother) problem here: The "budget" iPhone.

Normally, as with the 4S and 4, the "S" update takes a killer feature (Siri) or two (AirPlay) to convince people (along with sundry internal improvements, of course) to prefer it over the now $100 cheaper model. But now, if the cheaper iPhone is indeed gonna be the internals of the iPhone 5, wrapped up in a bunch of thicker, coloured, plastic casings, the killer feature needs to be a pretty big one.

While I've been pretty convinced for a while now that it's gonna be a fingerprint sensor with iCloud Keychain integrated, I'm not convinced that it's gonna be enough. This is an iPhone we're talking about, after all. Displays which blow even Anandtech's mind get 9 out of 10. Impressing the tech world will be even harder given that the "cheap" iPhone will be about $200-300 cheaper unlocked, and also come in many, probably much better, (read: Gold iPhone 5S) colours.

Enter SnappyCam. The burst-shooting app takes 8 MP photos at a mind-blowing 20 fps. Nothing even comes close.

Here's what the app has gotten me thinking, though. 4K is basically 8.3 MP, a marginal increase over the current 8 MP sensor on the iPhone 4S and 5, and one which will be easily compensated for if the 5S has a heavily rumoured 12-13 MP sensor. If the A7 does indeed double the processing power of the it's predecessor, as recent iPhone SoCs have, it might be easily possible for 4K to be recorded on an iPhone at 30 fps.

In terms of motivation, Apple has sold products for years now that have resolutions over 1080p. Heck, the 3rd- and 4th-gen iPads have screens with larger resolutions than their cameras can record at. The new Mac Pro can power upto 3 separate 4K displays, and Apple might be working on those for a fall release too. 27" iMacs, Retina MacBook Pros, and many year old Cinema and Thunderbolt displays can all best 1080p. So clearly, there now is a case for higher resolution video capture on Apple's own devices.

And if Apple can harness iTunes to provide for 4K content too, it might be a solid feature and plus point not just for iPhone 5S, but for the rest of the Apple ecosystem too. If MG Siegler is right, and we do indeed see a "TV related hardware product" from Apple this fall, a 4K-compatible, 4th-gen Apple TV makes a lot of sense too.

Mark Gurman, probably the most reliable source on Apple rumours, believes that we might not see a 16GB iPhone 5S SKU at all, making such high-res video an easier burden on the on-device storage. This fits in with how the last 4S also increased both the video capture resolution and doubled the base storage configuration at the same time.

Last but not the least, the Sony Honami might pack a 4K camera, and guess who the supplier for the iPhone 4S and 5 camera was? Sony again.

So what do you guys think? Could we see 4K capture finally come to consumers with the iPhone 5S?

[Here's a link to my full blog post on the matter in more detail. Do give it a read.]