Apple granted patent for bayonet lens mount, probably won’t be used on iPhone

by Liam McCabe

posted Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at 11:39 AM EST


If it wasn’t from a generally reliable source, and we hadn’t heard inklings already, and if it wasn’t an actual patent from the US Patent and Trademark Office, we’d probably think that this was an April Fools’ prank. But apparently, Apple is mulling the use of bayonet-mounted lenses for iOS devices. Huh?

Apple Insider reports that US Patent No. 8,687,299 was issued to Apple on Tuesday for “bayonet attachment mechanisms.” The mount would be integrated into the camera’s rear bezel, and work like the bayonet mounts that photographers will recognize from, say, almost any interchangeable-lens camera from the past few decades.

Illustration from Apple's patent for bayonet mounts.

In the patent, Apple clearly states that this mount would be for attaching lenses:

"In this field of electronic devices, it may be desirable to attach an accessory device thereto. For example, it may be desirable to couple a lens device to a portable electronic device including a camera. In this regard, the camera may not include optical zoom functionality, wide angle capability, or certain filters, and hence the addition of an accessory device that includes one or more of these functionalities may be desirable. However, existing embodiments of lens accessory devices have employed unsatisfactory solutions, particularly in the context of lens accessory devices configured for exterior mounting. “


One of those “existing embodiments” is the plethora of magnet-mounted lenses available for iPhones and iPads, like the Olloclip. Those accessories are pretty cool, but don’t do much to change the shooting experience. But a big, securely mounted lens, like the honking optics illustrated in the patent, could have a bigger impact on the photo quality—as well as the weight and aesthetics of a smartphone.

It seems a bit uncharacteristic of Apple to want to add anything so bulky and, well, unsightly to one of its phones, even as an optional accessory. The patent application was originally filed in September 2012, and Apple must’ve had some inkling by then that the way forward for small cameras would be through new software rather than old-style hardware. So if we had to guess, this idea probably won’t ever see the light of day, at least not on an Apple product.

What do you think? Would you ever want a phone with a real-deal lens mount? How long would it take for 3D-printed Canon and Nikon adapters to pop up on eBay?

(Via Apple Insider)