‘Periscope’ camera might remain iPhone 16 Pro Max exclusive


Not this type of periscope.
Not this type of periscope.
Photo: US Navy

iPhone 16 Pro buyers reportedly won’t get the “periscope” camera previous rumors suggested. A camera with the new type of high-end lens will be restricted to only the iPhone 16 Pro Max, according to a reliable source of Apple info.

The new hardware actually will arrive with the iPhone 15 Pro Max in 2023. But it supposedly won’t come to the regular-size iPhone Pro in 2024, despite what earlier reports indicated.

The pop-up lens should bring a noticeable jump in image quality while also shrinking the thickness of the iPhone’s notoriously large camera hump.

iPhone 16: No periscope camera for you!

Over the years, Apple improved the iPhone camera until it became one of the most important features of the handset. And leaks indicate Apple is not resting on its laurels. The company will make a significant change to the iPhone camera’s design in the coming months.

Reports that a periscope lens is coming to iPhone in 2023 have circulated for months, and a new leak from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo from TF International Securities doesn’t refute that. However, he said Tuesday via Twitter, “Only one/highest-end new iPhone 16 model in 2H24 will have the periscope camera, not the two models the market expected.”

If true, to get a periscope lens, users will have to buy an iPhone 15 Pro Max or later an iPhone 16 Pro Max. No other iOS model will offer one.

Building features into Pro Max that aren’t in the Pro is not at all unusual for Apple’s product strategy. The company wants consumers to be tempted by the most expensive model, which comes with the highest profit margin.

What’s a periscope lens?

A periscope lens isn’t something Apple is borrowing out of a submarine. It’s a method for squeezing a long camera lens into a thin phone.

Telephoto cameras require a certain amount of distance between the lens and the image sensor. Limiting the distance limits the zoom capability. In a periscope lens, a prism bends the incoming light before it reaches the sensor. That means the sensor doesn’t have to be behind the lens — it can be beside it, increasing the distance between the two components.

The current iPhone 14 Pro models offer up to 3x optical zoom. With the design change, the 2023 and 2024 Pro Max models will almost certainly offer stronger zoom capabilities. And the camera will nevertheless require a smaller hump on the back of the handset.


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