The new iPhone 7 from an OCR perspective
As a company working with smartphones on a daily basis we depend on the quality of smartphone cameras. So we are always excited when new high-end technology hits the market! :)
We will give you an overview about the new specs of the iPhone 7 and will explain what the direction of these new features means for OCR technology! If you’re already familiar with the new specs, just skip this part and jump to what this means for text recognition.
Like the rumors had stated before, the iPhone really lost its traditional headphone connection. Instead of it, Apple is going to ship the phone with a pair of Lightning Earpods. They can be connected through the charging port via lightning adapter, which is included in the shipped package. Additionally, Apple presented its new wireless AirPods, which come with a built-in chip for audio processing and pairing. The space for the traditional headphone connection is now used for stereo speakers and with the iPhone 7 Plus for the new dual-lens camera. The battery itself won’t be bigger, but the new A10 Fusion chip which is said to be 2 times faster than the A9 chip, will run on less power. This means you will supposedly get an extra 2 hours of battery life!
Another difference to the old iPhones is the new pressure-sensitive and vibrating home button. Since it doesn’t feel like pressing a button anymore, it actually has not a lot in common with the old home button. The new iPhone 7 is also the first iPhone that’s splash and water resistant.
Both phones, the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus have improved 12MP cameras. The most interesting feature for us is of course the iPhone 7 Plus’ new dual lens camera!
The phone has two 12-megapixel cameras on the back! One lens is a 1X wide-angle lens and the other is a 2X zoom telephoto lens — allowing for 2X true optical zoom and 10X digital zoom. The smaller 4.7-inch device has a 12MP sensor and a f/1.8 lens that lets 50% more light onto the lens.
“iPhone 7 Plus also features a telephoto camera. The two cameras operate as one giving you two times optical zoom and high quality imagery when you zoom even farther.” – Greg Joswiak VP, Worldwide Product Marketing
The phones also have optical image stabilization on both devices and a new camera flash to improve photos shot in low light situations and RAW image capture. The device will have four LED flash lights. Two in cool colours and two in warm colours to improve the flash. Furthermore the front camera was upgraded to 7-megapixel.
What does this mean for text recognition?
We can read smaller text or text that is farther away with the same quality as we would with the default camera.
With iPhone 7 Plus devices we can take advantage of the telephoto lens. Therefore we can read smaller text or text that is farther away with the same quality as we would with the default camera. This is a really big gain! The problem is that not so many people actually buy the iPhone Plus models.
As far as the new f/1.8 aperture is concerned it might be a little better in situations with bad lighting conditions and with fast moving objects, but for text recognition it doesn’t really improve anything. All this means is that more light can reach the camera sensor in the same time span and – thus the shutter speed can be faster – causing less motion blur. And not to forget, other flagship phones like the Samsung Galaxy S7 already have an aperture of f/1.7.
And not to forget, other flagship phones like the Samsung Galaxy S7 already have an aperture of f/1.7.
The new Image Signal Processor (ISP) uses machine learning to evaluate the current scene and lighting situation and adapt the camera to it. Sadly this as well as other features such as finding faces don’t bring that much of an advantage. All the processing that the ISP does is rather focused on consumer needs (taking pictures on a daily basis), than at image processing tasks done by OCR technology. The thing is that, if you want to process images, what you get from the phone are the preview frames, which have a maximal resolution of 1080p, and the beautiful 12MP images, that the phone is able to take. The only advantage we get might be an improved focus and more neutral colors. In very dark situations, the Quad-LED flash will be also of some help.
Like we mentioned, the biggest new gain is that we can read smaller text or text that is further away with really good quality! Other than that there might be some cool new features on the iPhone 7, but they don’t affect the quality of mobile OCR.