iPhone 15 Pro periscope camera just tipped for major upgrade

iPhone 14 Pro Max
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Ultra's killer feature could be the addition of a periscope telephoto camera. But now new details have emerged that could set the iPhone's telephoto camera apart from others we've seen before on rival phones.

Shadow_leak (opens in new tab) on Twitter expanded on the iPhone 15 Pro periscope lens rumors we've already heard by claiming Apple may move to a hybrid lens design, instead of using purely plastic parts to achieve the alleged 5x or 6x magnification. In this case, a hybrid lens means some or all of the lens elements would have a glass core with a plastic coating.

Glass lenses are more durable than plastic, and as a general rule lead to higher quality photos. But since phone makers want to keep the size and price of their smartphone camera arrays as low as possible, plastic is the industry standard, although a few companies like China's Xiaomi have already experimented with glass lenses in some of their phones.

If Apple does indeed decide to move to part-glass lenses for the periscope camera, it would hopefully mean an image quality increase compared to the competition, allowing the iPhone 15 Pro to maintain Apple's position at the top of our best camera phones guide, and beating phones like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. But if that means upping the price of its Pro iPhones, or making the already big camera bump even larger, that could make the iPhone a less practical purchase overall.

There is more to look forward to on next year's iPhone than just this alleged new camera and its potential high-quality lens. It could be equipped with a more powerful and efficient 3nm chipset, and swap its Lightning port for USB-C for more convenient charging and faster data transfer. Also, the Ultra model (which may replace the iPhone 15 Pro Max) may earn its name by offering even more power and features than the standard iPhone 15 Pro, like a second front camera and a premium titanium alloy body.

It's going to be a while until we find out the answers though. Apple only released the iPhone 14 series last month, and the iPhone 14 order delays are still in place. We expect not to hear anything official about new iPhones until next September, as per Apple's usual schedule. 

In the meantime, check out our iPhone 14 Plus vs iPhone 14 Pro Max face-off to see which big-screen iPhone is right for you. 

Richard Priday
Staff Writer

Richard is a Tom's Guide staff writer 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.