By Dan Moren
September 30, 2019 10:06 AM PT
Last updated July 8, 2020
The Back Page: Do you have enough cameras? You do not.
Note: This story has not been updated since 2020.
This year’s top of the line iPhone has three, count ‘em, three cameras. On the back. If you add the front of the phone to the mix, we’re talking an additional two, including the infrared camera in the True Depth system used by Face ID. FIVE cameras. On a device that’s smaller than all but those tiny spy cameras used in the Cold War.
So it’s only natural to wonder: Have we reached peak camera?
Not on your life. If they can stick seven blades on a razor—and they can and will—then we’re far from done with more cameras on a smartphone. After all, 97 percent of the back of the iPhone 11 Pro isn’t covered with cameras, and we can’t let that stand. No, for capturing the most true-to-life possible scene, we need all the damn cameras we can get. So after a little soul searching, here are my suggestions for just three additional cameras that the next iPhone really needs to have.
Side Selfie Cam – We all love taking selfies, but there’s just something lacking when you can’t see how all the people around you are reacting to your selfie. Welcome to the world of Side Silfies or, as I like to call them, Silfies™. You can capture all the expressions of rolling eyes, disgust, and straight-up envy, all of which only goes to make your perfect selfie even more authentic.
EM Cam – Yes, there’s an infrared camera on the front of the iPhone, but that’s just scratching the surface. We need—nay, deserve—a camera that captures not just the visible light spectrum, but everything from infrared to ultraviolet and beyond, capturing the very reality of a scene. If I can’t see the distribution of gamma rays, then what the hell am I even doing here?
Mood Cam – A picture can reproduce a scene, but it falls short of actually duplicating that exact moment in time. For example, how did you feel in that selfie moments after you watched a duck eat a bagel in the New York subway? Can a still image truly convey that atmosphere of joy? No, but the Mood Cam could. Taking inspiration from the classic 1970s mood ring, the Mood Cam captures subjects’ very auras, subtly shading them in hues that reflect their attitude in that moment in time: blue for relaxed, amber for unhappy, and green for always, always angry.
I submit these as just a few of the reasonable additions to the iPhone’s battery of cameras that could go a long way to making our smartphones do more than just take pictures in dim light. I for one will not be satisfied until the back of the iPhone is veritably festooned with cameras that don’t just give you some pale simualcrum of the reality that we thought we saw, but rather capture reality itself. Then we will at last all live as reality-altering beings who exceed the normal boundaries of time and space mwahahahahaaha—also a better telephoto lens wouldn’t go amiss, thanks.
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at @email@example.com or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is out now.]
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