iPhone 15 Pro Max to get exclusive 12 MP periscope lens with 6x optical zoom, iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max to follow suit in 2024
Apple is expected to introduce new camera capabilities with the iPhone 14 launch later this year. Even with the iPhone 14 launch still a few months away, supply chain developments already seem to indicate what's in store for the future. We are now getting to know that the long-rumored periscope lens will be exclusive to the iPhone 15 Pro Max in 2023 and the iPhone 16 Pro series in 2024.
Last year, we reported that Apple has patented a dual-prism periscope zoom camera that is slated to make its way to future iPhones. Known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo had predicted back then that iPhones with periscope cameras will see the light of the day sometime in 2023. Rumors have been flying since then about the possible inclusion of a periscope lens in the iPhone 15 Pro series.
Kuo is now able to offer more insights into how Apple would implement the periscope lens feature and how suppliers stand to gain from it. The 2023 iPhone 15 lineup will likely include the 6.1-inch iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro, and the 6.7-inch iPhone 15 Max and the iPhone 15 Pro Max. According to Kuo, only the iPhone 15 Pro Max will be getting a periscope lens while the rest will make do with a conventional telephoto lens for zooming. In 2024, the new zoom lens will make its way to both the iPhone 16 Pro and the iPhone 16 Pro Max.
Apple has been reserving new camera features for its Pro or Pro Max models in order to differentiate them from the rest of the pack. Also, the higher cost of the periscope lens module (up to US$15) and relatively larger size means that Apple would rather use it in the larger, more expensive models.
The use of a periscope lens will enable the iPhone 15 Pro Max and the iPhone 16 Pro models to offer superior zoom capabilities. Kuo says that Apple's implementation will use a 1/3-inch 12 MP f/2.8 sensor that can offer 5-6x optical zoom and sensor shift image stabilization. These specifications are expected to persist across both the iPhone 15 Pro Max and iPhone 16 Pro models.
Kuo's report states that suppliers such as LG Innotek for the voice coil motor (VCM) and CMOS camera module (CCM), Cowell for the CCM, Jahwa for the VCM, Largan for the lens, and Lante Optics for the prism are the main beneficiaries in Apple's adoption of the new lens system.
For perspective, the iPhone 13 Pro can offer only up to 3x optical zoom. This year's iPhone 14 series is expected to feature a 48 MP wide sensor with 8K video recording and an improved 7-element telephoto lens.
That being said, periscope lenses have been commonplace in several Android flagships for quite some time now. OEMs such as Huawei, Samsung, Vivo, Xiaomi, etc. all have flagship offerings with periscope lenses. It's good to know that iPhones too will be able to finally offer enhanced optical zoom, but we will have to wait for another year to experience it.