Apple is likely to use its long-time camera module supplier LG Innotek and parts maker Jahwa Electronics for the procurement of folded zoom camera modules.
Earlier this week, South Korean camera module parts maker Jahwa Electronics announced that it will spend 191 billion won on a new optical image stabilization (OIS) actuator production facility. Apple had visited the South Korean company’s facilities last year for a review.
People familiar with the matter said the facility is aimed at supplying its actuators __ which combine OIS and autofocus functions into one module __ to Cupertino.
Jahwa will be likely supplying the OIS actuators made in the new facility to LG Innotek, replacing previous suppliers Alps Alpine and Mizumi.
Jahwa’s OIS patents are advantageous in realizing folded zoom, the people said.
Folded zoom uses prisms to fold the light entering the image sensor like periscopes.
Bending the light this way allows vendors to make the camera modules smaller while increasing their optical zoom range.
Jahwa has been developing ball guide actuators in collaboration with its current main customers Samsung and Samsung Electro-Mechanics.
The rolling ball moves the lens barrel __ which differs from Apple’s current method of using springs to do so.
As image sensors become larger to support higher resolution and more lenses are used, the ball guide method, which offers more precise control, is becoming the go-to instead of the spring method.
Knowing this, Apple has been contacting South Korean camera module companies since 2019 to strengthen its telephoto capabilities on its iPhones.
Cupertino will likely decide next year whether it will apply folded zoom for its new iPhones.
Meanwhile, LG Innotek is in a favorable position in its legal dispute over patents in South Korea against Corephotonics, a subsidiary of Samsung, in South Korea.
The latter’s patents in South Korea were considered invalid by a court in Seoul in 2020 __ the Supreme Court is expected to make a final judgment on the matter around June.