The picture above has been making its way around the Internet this afternoon and claims, unfoundedly, that there is a 70% chance the 4th generation iPhone will have a front-facing camera. I’ve never been quite sure why there is a demand for a front-facing camera in addition to the obvious rear facing one. Regardless, here is why the 4th generation iPhone will not have a camera facing you.
Space/Form Factor - Two cameras means there needs to be more electronics inside to handle both cameras. Assuming that the iPhone either keeps the same thickness measurement or gets slightly slimmer, Apple can’t afford to sacrifice space for other technologies to include two cameras.
No Video Conferencing - Video conferencing strains the battery significantly so in order for the iPhone to do video conferencing, the battery would need to be much larger. A larger battery would hurt the form-factor again, another reason why a front-facing camera is out.
It’s Impractical - Look at the latest additions that came in the iPhone 3GS: shooting brief videos, a faster processor, a compass, voice commands. What do they have in common? They’re all practical (though the compass helps this case the least aside from its GPS capabilities). Aside from vanity shots and making sure your hair is alright before a date, what use does a front-facing camera have?
It’s a Phone - First, the iPhone is just that — a phone. Second, the iPhone is made for the everyday customer, not for the Fortune 1000 business exec and even the exec is going to lend his voice before he lends his face to meetings be may be missing. Everyday users aren’t going to pull up a video chat to talk with friends; they’re going to make a phone call or send a text message. Apple will leave the video chat to their laptops and iChat.
I would flip the odds on this prediction and give the chance of seeing a front-facing camera a generous 30%. That being said, I seriously doubt we’ll see more than one camera in the next version of the iPhone.