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Apple has designed a MagSafe gimbal camera mount for iPhones

Two views of Apple's proposed MagSafe camera mount for iPhones

A newly-granted patent shows how Apple has at least designed a stand that is specifically for charging an iPhone during filming, and connecting to a gimbal.

There was no sign of such a MagSafe charging camera stand when Apple filmed its Scary Fast event on iPhones in 2023. But as early as 2021, its designs were sufficiently advanced that Apple applied for a patent for it.

Now that patent, "Adapter For Charging and Stabilizing Cameras," has been granted. In it, Apple claims that some iPhone "cameras have such a high quality that they are replacing traditional single-lens reflex (SLR) and other cameras in many applications."

According to Apple, though, this has raised a problem that is serious enough that the "adoption of phone cameras into these non-traditional uses has been slowed by a lack of enabling infrastructure."

"While there are vast numbers and types of camera stabilizers such as tripods, gimbals, and other devices for SLR cameras," says the patent, "the same does not exist for cameras on phones."

Apple therefore says "it can be desirable to provide adapters, mounts, and other devices to allow existing camera stabilizers to be used with cameras on phones," and then Apple's proposal goes further. For instance, it says, such devices should be small, since they are being carried by photographers with a lot of other equipment.

And "these phone cameras might be used for very long periods [or]in power-intensive applications such as recording video." So there should be power to the iPhone, and lastly, "the cameras on the phones [should] be readily placed in various orientations or positions to provide flexibility."

"Thus," says Apple, "what is needed are adapters that can mount phones on camera stabilizers, where the adapters are highly portable and are useful in a number of situations and environments."

The patent then covers a few variations on how this could all work, and while it does not mention the word "MagSafe," that is precisely the technology being described.

It's described at great length, taking over 20 pages and with 50 diagrams. Very many of those relate to "magnetic "force profiles for

different magnetic alignment systems," and in terms of physical design, there is really one system.

The proposed design looks like a compact makeup case, and folds out into a mount for a tripod
The proposed design looks like a compact makeup case, and folds out into a mount for a tripod

It resembles an old-style woman's compact, the circular holder for a mirror and blusher. Just as with those, Apple's charger would fold flat, and open up to a 90 degree angle.

The horizontal portion is stubby and contains the connector system for mounting the unit onto a standard tripod. The vertical portion is the MagSafe stand, and resembles a slightly elongated version of Apple's current round ones.

While the patent has been granted, and the detail in the proposal is extensive, there is no guarantee that Apple will ever release such a device publicly. Apple applies for many thousands of patents every year — and is granted very many — but other factors can determine whether the company believes it's worth launching a product.

This invention is credited to six inventors, five of whom were also credited on a patent to stop Lightning cables fraying.