Update: A new analyst report corroborates claims that the iPhone 15 series will feature Apple's first periscope lens. However it's reportedly only on the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, and will only pack in 5x optical zoom.
Apple's plans to bolster the cameras on next year's iPhone 14 are coming into sharper focus. But a more exciting change to the iPhone's camera setup could be a little farther down the road, according to one analyst's report.
Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst who's tightly wired into Apple's supply chain, has a new research note out that 9to5Mac (opens in new tab) spotted, in which he predicts that the iPhone 14 will feature a 48MP main camera. That shouldn't be surprising if you follow iPhone 14 rumors closely — Kuo said the same thing back in April when he forecast that 48MP cameras were headed to the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max.
Kuo is hardly the only analyst tipping Apple to adopt a 48MP main camera in its iPhone 14 Pro models. Just last week, another analyst made the same forecast about Apple's camera plans.
The 48MP camera rumor may not be a new one, but it would still represent a significant change for Apple, which has favored 12MP main cameras since the iPhone 6s. Over the years, Apple has improved its cameras by adjusting the size of the aperture and the sensor to let in more light, while leaving the megapixel count untouched.
Quadrupling the resolution could mean sharper pictures from next year's phones, as Apple looks to keep pace with the Google Pixel 6 Pro and its 50MP main camera or the Galaxy S21 Ultra, which boasts a 108MP wide angle camera.
iPhone 15: Get ready for a periscope lens
An even bigger change could be in store for the iPhone 15, Kuo adds in his report. He tips the 2023 phone to add a periscope lens for improved zooms.
That's a move analysts have expected Apple to make for a long time. The iPhone 13 was supposed to use a folded, periscope-like structure to improve its optical zoom — that rumor didn't pan out — and some analysts have tipped the feature for the iPhone 14. Kuo, however, now lists 2023 as the arrival date.
Periscope lenses address the lack of space in smartphones by stacking lenses vertically. Increasing the amount of zoom on a camera requires a boost for the focal length of a lens. There's only so much room you have to do that on horizontally stacked lenses, but stacking the lenses on top of each other frees up more room. That's why phones like the Galaxy S21 Ultra can deliver a 10x zoom. Apple, which lags behind Samsung's phones in zoom capabilities, clearly wants to address that, if the rumor is true.
Apple's iPhone 13 Pro Max currently sits atop our list of the best camera phones, but the pressure in this category from both Google and Samsung is pretty intense. If Apple hopes to keep ahead of the competition, it's going to have to come up with ways to make already impressive cameras even better. Kuo's new research note charts out a potential path for Apple to do just that.