LiDAR Sensor on the iPhone 14 Pro series - What does it do and do you need it
iPhone 14 Pro series

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The LiDAR sensor is only available on the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max, and is not really a new tech, it is used in a lot of cars nowadays for backup sensors and other range sensing features, it is also in old Apple devices such as; the iPad Pro 2022 and last year iPhone 13 Pro series.

In terms of the new iPhone 14 series, if you are a lucky owner of an iPhone 14 Pro or iPhone 14 Pro Max, you should see your LiDAR sensor at back of your iPhone. However, if you own an iPhone 14 or iPhone 14 Plus, unfortunately there is no LiDAR sensor on these iPhones.

LiDAR Sensor location on the iPhone 14 Pro series
LiDAR Sensor location on the iPhone 14 Pro series

The LiDAR sensor is the black circular dot underneath the camera lens, as illustrated in the image above. Many people wonder what actually LiDAR does and how to take advantage of it and how to use it effectively, but first let’s explain what LiDar is so we can understand more.

What is LiDAR sensor?

LiDAR stands for Light Detection And Ranging. It is basically a sensor that emits light through rapidly firing lasers which reflect off nearby objects. When that light bounces off an object and returns back to the LiDAR sensor, the time it takes for the light to return to the sensor is recorded and accurate measurement data can be extrapolated. It generates a 3D model of object and its environment. It works in a similar fashion to how the Face ID works on the front of your iPhone, except it’s effective at a much larger range.

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iPhone 14 Pro LiDAR sensor main advantage

One of the main advantages of the LiDAR sensor is that portrait mode will come out much more accurate and this is why Apple is letting iPhone owners take portrait mode photos with night mode on the new iPhone 14 Pro series as well as the previous iPhone generation; the iPhone 12 and 13 Pro series. The light sensor emits its own light so it can measure distance even when there isn't much light around the object. The quality of the photo in such conditions will be limited to how good the image sensor and image processing software are. The light sensor, however, can help with portrait mode photos but isn't going to improve the overall image quality of your shots. It will, however, improve the autofocus speed and accuracy in both, photos as well as videos. The new iPhone 14 Pro series has super-fast autofocus in low light because of the inclusion of the LiDAR sensor.

What does LiDAR sensor do?

Another big use of the LiDAR sensor is being able to accurately measure the size of objects with the measure app that comes pre-install on the iPhone. The sensor has a limited range of about 5 meters or so, therefore you need to be quite close to the object to take advantage of the LiDAR sensor. However,  it does seem a lot more accurate than the measure app on previous iPhones with LiDAR. This feature is great to use if you don't have measuring tools, yet need to estimate the size of an object, the LiDAR sensor becomes handy in those situations. Keep in mind that the measurement is not always 100% accurate. Sometimes is 1 or 2 centimetres off. It is very handy to have nevertheless.
You can always use it to map out objects that are squares or rectangles in shape and then give you all of the measurements for all sides at once. Something you can't do with a normal tape measure in just 2 - 3 seconds.

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Furthermore, the app can also measure your height too, you need a tripod or a friend to help you with this, as this is a two-people task. All you need to do is stand up next to a wall with your full body in view and the app will attempt to accurately measure your height. The LiDAR sensor also helps with apps that run on Apple's AR kit and AR games such as; Angry birds and AR Robot. The sensor makes objects very stable on the ground, making them feel like they are stuck to the surface and part of your actual environment. You can move around your room and look at objects up close and they will stay exactly where they are supposed to be, it's more fun to use, you should try it if you own an iPhone 14 Pro or 14 Pro Max.

There are some companies such as; Ikea is taking advantage of the LiDar sensor in their apps; like Ikea Place where you can put Ikea's furniture items in your room, so you can see how it will look like with your own other furniture before purchasing.

In fact, the LiDAR sensor on the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max is not new, however, it is there open up new opportunities and unlimited possibilities for Apple and AR apps' developers. Apple may start using the data that collects from the Lidar sensor in the iPhone Pro series to create a better AR experience for the next Apple Reality One VR headset which are supposed to be coming next year.

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The Lidar sensor is a very useful sensor for certain things and ideal if you know how to utilize it. It is not really essential, therefore it should not be a deciding factor when it comes to which iPhone to choose; the iPhone 14 or iPhone 14 Pro.

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