Limitations of the iPhone 11’s Ultra-Wide Camera

Gannon Burgett, DPreview:

Last week, Apple debuted its new iPhone 11 devices, all three of which feature an ultra-wide camera module. This marks the first time Apple has put an ultra-wide camera in an iOS device and with the new camera comes all-new capabilities and shooting modes.

Not all of the cameras are made equal though. In addition to not having optical image stabilization, it’s been revealed the ultra-wide camera unit on all three models isn’t yet capable of capturing Raw image data or manual focus, unlike the wide-angle camera (and telephoto camera on the iPhone 11 Pro models).

These are curious limitations that put the ultra-wide camera on a similar level to the fixed-focus front-facing camera that only captures compressed image formats. It’s expected on the front, but a little disappointing for a back-mounted camera, especially as the other cameras don’t have these restrictions, so it’s a little inconsistent.

For what it’s worth, I don’t buy speculation that the ultra-wide camera does not support RAW capture because of excessive distortion. The user of a third-party app that supports RAW capture would probably be comfortable with distortion, and apps like Lightroom have lens correction profiles.