Constraints in terms of space and design do not allow Apple to offer a quality camera on the MacBook.
If you’re used to using an iPad or iPhone, you’ll surely appreciate their high-quality camera systems. And since you like these Apple products, you have certainly also fallen for a MacBook. However, the quality of the MacBook’s front camera is not comparable to others. And the main reasons for this are the difference in design and place.
A matter of design
The iPad and iPhone have a slate design, while the MacBook has a clamshell design. The crucial difference between these two forms is the thinness of the display frame, as this is where the front camera is located. On the iPad and iPhone, the screen is included in the same chassis as the rest of the device. The MacBook, on the other hand, has a separate casing for the screen, called a lid, designed to be as thin as possible.
Fortunately, LED panels are considerably thin and light. The iPad or iPhone screen, therefore, does not take up too much space. As for the lid of the MacBook, Apple has designed it as thin as possible, namely four millimeters. This gives the product a sleek and attractive look but poses a problem for one component in particular: the front camera.
Have you ever wondered why DSLR camera lenses are so big? That’s because capturing the highest quality image possible requires a long focal length and a large aperture, which translates to a large lens. Less space for a camera, therefore, means less quality.
A question of space
The MacBook screen only offers four millimeters of space for a camera lens, while the iPhone offers 7.6, almost double that.
This means that Apple can include a longer and larger lens on the iPhone resulting in much better image quality. That’s why the iPhone got a 1080p front-facing camera in 2016, while the MacBook didn’t get that upgrade until 2021, five years later. The problem is, the iPhone’s camera has gotten even better since 2016, so going from that camera system to a MacBook’s camera is a pretty noticeable drop in quality.