Forget iPhone 15 Pro — iPhone 16 Pro just tipped for this exclusive feature

iPhone 15 Pro Max shown in hand
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The new tetraprism lens is one of the bigger upgrades in the iPhone 15 Pro Max, increasing optical zoom to 5x magnification without making the phone any thicker. It’s also exclusive to the Pro Max, with rumors claiming it’s the only phone big enough to house the new lens. But it may not stay that way for long.

According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple could be set to add the tetraprism to both iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max. It’s a rumor we’ve heard before, alongside speculation that the iPhone 16 Pro might be bigger. While Kuo doesn’t touch on that, he does offer some additional details as to why the tetraprism lens is only available on the single device.

According to Kuo’s report on Medium, the tetraprism lens is the most significant factor in the “supply bottleneck” for iPhone 15 Pro Max. It’s something Kuo has talked about at length before, and may be partly responsible for the iPhone 15 Pro Max delays that have been experienced at several retailers — alongside unusually high demand.

Supplier Largan has apparently increased the production, but this will have the consequence of increasing the price of each tetraprism unit. In short, Apple is willing to sacrifice some of its own profits to get more iPhone 15 Pro Maxes into the hands of its users.

Kuo predicts that by next year Apple could potentially allow lens supplier Genius to produce the lenses — though Largan may still retain its exclusive, or primary, supplier status for another year. In either case it means that production challenges associated with the lens could be reduced by next year, giving Apple the opportunity to add a tetraprism lens to the iPhone 16 Pro as well.

Bigger screens for iPhone 16 Pro and Pro Max

The inclusion of the lens will no doubt rely on other factors as well. If the tetraprism really is too big for the current 6.1-inch iPhone design, then a size increase is going to be needed. The rumor is that the iPhone 16 will have a 6.3-inch screen and the iPhone 16 Pro Max will grow to 6.9 inches. 

The real question is whether Apple will be able to increase the level of magnification by this time next year. 5x optical zoom isn’t bad, but there are rival phones that can extend their vision a lot further. The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, for instance, has 10x optical zoom and we have heard rumors the Galaxy S24 Ultra could get a “hybrid” lens with variable magnification in a single lens

However there will be more to iPhone 16 than the camera. Rumor is that Apple may hide all the Face ID sensors beneath the screen — leaving only a single camera lens cutout in the display. It’s possible that we may also see an iPhone Ultra launch, though it’s not clear whether this will be its own thing or a rebranded version of the Pro Max.

It’s still early though, and we’re still a few days out from the iPhone 15 release, so it’ll be a while before we get a clear idea of what iPhone 16 could have in store for us. In the meantime be sure to check out our reviews for the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max to see just hope good the cameras on both phones really are.

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Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.