Forget the iPhone 13: This iPhone will have the camera you want

iPhone 12 Pro Max cameras
(Image credit: Future)

More rumors suggest that Apple is eyeing a new type of camera module for the iPhone — a periscope lens that will allow the rear cameras on Apple 's phones to deliver unprecedented zoom and clarity. Only don't expect it in next year's models.

Instead, this major change in the way the iPhone captures photos is likely arriving with the 2022 release of the iPhone 14.

According to Korean website The Elec, Apple has placed an order with Samsung's Electro-Mechanics to supply actuators and lenses for a periscope camera module. These components would be sent to LG which would then use the parts to create a "folded" camera to be supplied to Apple. 

Rumors of a periscope lens were first reported earlier this year by TF Securities analyst Ming-chi Kuo.

Current phones sandwich lenses on top of one another. This is why phones have a camera bump.  But with phones getting thinner, it's becoming more difficult to stack lenses without sacrificing quality. Because of the limited hardware, the iPhone 12 Pro Max can only offer zoom at 2.5x.

A periscope module forgoes having to sandwich glass on top of each other and instead opts for a configuration that lays glass out horizontally. A mirror is then used to relay the image to the camera's sensor.

Samsung Electro-Mechanics Periscope Lens

(Image credit: Image Credit: Samsung | YouTube)

This video from Samsung's Electro-Mechanics does a great job demonstrating how the configuration works.

The iPhone 13 will not be the first phone to use a periscope lens. The Huawei P40 Pro Plus had the feature, offering 10x optical zoom. YouTuber JerryRigEverything tears down a Huawei P30 Pro's 5x periscope lens, giving an inside look as to how everything looks in a final manufactured product.

The excellent iPhone 12 just came out so it may be hard to think of even next year's iPhone 13, let alone a device coming two years from now. But it sounds like Apple's mobile photography innovations are going to continue for some time.

Imad Khan

Imad is currently Senior Google and Internet Culture reporter for CNET, but until recently was News Editor at Tom's Guide. Hailing from Texas, Imad started his journalism career in 2013 and has amassed bylines with the New York Times, the Washington Post, ESPN, Wired and Men's Health Magazine, among others. Outside of work, you can find him sitting blankly in front of a Word document trying desperately to write the first pages of a new book.