We've been waiting a long time for the iPhone to add a periscope telephoto camera. By reflecting light from the camera's aperture to be in line with the phone's body, these lenses allow greater zoom abilities without making the camera block thicker, something especially important for phones if they want to remain pocketable.
It's this technology that's allowed Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra to offer impressive 5x and 10x optical zoom lenses. In the case of the iPhone, we've been told previously that the first-gen periscope lens on the iPhone 15 Pro Max should have 5x or 6x zoom, which while not as good as what Samsung offers, beats the current 3x magnification of the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. That said, this rumor names a different supplier as Apple's periscope camera source, so perhaps things have changed if Apple's indeed going with Largan.
Interestingly, Apple's apparently going to pay Largan just $4 per telephoto lens, which Kuo claims is below the market rate of $4.50 - $5, meaning Largan won't make any profit from selling them. This is certainly a sweet deal for Apple, although perhaps Largan was more than happy to offer the discount in return for providing parts for what will likely be one of the biggest-selling phones of the year.
This may have a dire effect on Largan's future and that of other phone component makers though. Kuo notes that revenue for these companies is declining already due to high inventory but low demand. And profit will likely drop even further in the future if Apple moves to competing parts maker Genius for future generations of periscope lenses, as Kuo predicts.
A big reason to wait for iPhone 16?
Unfortunately, the periscope lens is expected to be left off the iPhone 15 Pro, the smaller high-end model. Kuo says it won't be until the iPhone 16 series that both Pro and Pro Max variants will offer similar or identical periscope lens systems. For users who prefer their handsets on the small side, that could be the deciding factor in whether they upgrade this year or wait another 12 months.
That said, we should still see a strong set of upgrades and new features added to the iPhone 15 Pro, as well as the Pro Max model. Both could be receiving USB-C ports for the first time, and titanium design with potentiallysolid-state buttons, but a higher starting price as a result.
We'll all find out together what Apple has to offer with this year's iPhones at the launch event, which should be early September as normal unless we hear differently. While you wait, take a look at our iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max hubs to ensure you're up to date on that latest news and rumors.
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Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.