Good news: iPhone 15 could fix the worst thing about Apple's cameras

iPhone 14 Plus vs iPhone 14 Pro Max
(Image credit: Future)

As 2022 comes to a close, the iPhone 15 rumors are starting to ramp up. And we're now getting word that Apple could address an ongoing issue with its iPhone cameras. 

A new rumor from Nikkei (via AppleInsider) claims that Apple will work with Sony on the iPhone 15's camera. The Cupertino phone maker will reportedly use Sony's new "state-of-the-art" image sensor instead of a Samsung sensor. This new part from Sony will supposedly drastically overhaul how the iPhone 15 processes exposure control.

Apple + Sony = Super iPhone 15 Camera

The report from Nikkei says the following, "Sony's new image sensor roughly doubles the saturation signal level in each pixel compared with conventional sensors. In other words, the sensors can capture more light and reduce overexposure or underexposure in certain settings, enabling a smartphone camera to clearly photograph a person's face even if the subject is standing against a strong backlight."

The iPhone 15 could address some of the iPhone's historical exposure weaknesses.

Sony has supposedly accomplished this by placing the photodiodes and transistors in separate substrate layers, changing up the semiconductor design from what we have now. With this new methodology, Sony can add more photodiodes to the layer, allowing it to achieve that double saturation signal level. 

No more overexposed shots?

If that's all a bunch of gibberish to you, don't worry. It basically means that the iPhone 15 could address some of the iPhone's historical exposure weaknesses. While the iPhones regularly rank among the best camera phones, we have found that they tend to struggle with exposure control in some extreme situations. (Whereas Google tends to do a lot better.)

The above comparison from our iPhone 14 Pro Max vs. Pixel 7 Pro camera shootout is a good example. The subject's face in the iPhone 14's shot is a bit blown out, while the Pixel 7 Pro handles the sunlight better.

Here's another example of the iPhone 14 Pro's less-than-ideal exposure compared to the Pixel 7 Pro. In this case, the Pixel 7 Pro does a better job exposing the bottom of each lamp, while the iPhone's picture loses detail, not to mention that it's too dark. So it's underexposed this time even though the lights themselves are brighter.

What the new Sony sensor could mean for your photos

If the iPhone 15 uses this new Sony sensor, it could, for example, equal some incredible and artistic portraits. Imagine having your subject with a bright background, but your iPhone can still accurately capture their face and complexion. So you could achieve the halo effect without losing out on the subject's detail. We're already excited at the possibilities this upgrade could offer.

Nikkei's report does not specify whether this would be an upgrade for the whole iPhone 15 series or if it would be a Pro feature only. Our money, sadly, is on the latter based on Apple's strategy with the iPhone 14 Pro.

Other rumored iPhone 15 upgrades

As for other iPhone 15 rumors, it's almost guaranteed that Apple will finally switch to USB-C for the charging port after an EU ruling mandating that all smartphones need to use the standard. Other rumors suggest that Apple will do away with physical buttons, going with haptic ones instead (similar to the home button switch on the iPhone 7). 

Other people have said that the iPhone 15 Pro could get a periscope camera to improve zoom photography, helping it catch up to Samsung and Google — trust us, Apple has a long road ahead to match the Galaxy S22 Ultra and Pixel 7 Pro on telephoto performance.

Apple typically opts for a mid-September announcement date for iPhones, so be ready to wait a long time. However, in the months leading up to September, we expect to see a lot more rumors and leaks pop up. Be sure to check our iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Ultra hubs frequently to stay up-to-date on the latest news.

Jordan Palmer
Phones Editor

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over six years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.