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iPhone 15 camera rumor just gave me a big reason to skip iPhone 14

iPhone 13 Pro Max, in front of a background of water
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Anyone hoping to skip the iPhone 14 to get their hands on a better zoom camera may find they have to wait an extra year to get it on a regular-size Pro iPhone. A new post from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (opens in new tab) claims that Apple may adopt a periscope telephoto camera on the iPhone 15, but initially just for the iPhone 15 Pro Max model. 

We've heard rumors of a periscope camera on the 2023 iPhone before, but this claim from Kuo adds a new wrinkle. He also says we can expect either 5x or 6x optical zoom on Apple's first periscope camera.

That isn't quite as powerful as the 10x periscope zoom camera found in the rival Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, but it's certainly an improvement on the current 3x optical zoom on the iPhone 13 Pro's telephoto camera.

And that gives me one good reason to skip the iPhone 14, which looks set for a September 13 reveal, and wait for 2023's flagship iPhone. After all, the zooming capabilities of the iPhone 14 Pro Max aren't tipped to get any upgrades; some software improvements could be expected, but there have been no rumors of major telephoto hardware upgrades. 

For those of you who don't know, periscope cameras mount the sensor sideways in the phone, and then use prisms to direct light from the lens onto it. Placing the camera like this allows for more and larger lenses, and more powerful photo magnification as a result, but without making a device thicker.

Apple currently offers the same cameras, including telephoto cameras, on the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max models. But Apple has split the camera specs of the Pro model from the Pro Max before. In the most recent example, the iPhone 12 Pro had a regular main camera and 2x optical zoom, while the iPhone 12 Pro Max had sensor-shift stabilization on its main sensor, and a higher 2.5x zoom.

While the iPhone 15 Pro Max could lead the periscope camera charge next year, Kuo has the iPhone 16 Pro tipped to get such a camera system in 2024, which should appeal to people like me who want what could be a future contender for the best camera phones but not be forced to use a large-screened device. Somewhat unsurprisingly, Kuo reckons the periscope camera will remain a Pro phone feature and now filter down to the standard iPhone models, at least in the near-future. 

Even without a periscope camera, the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max are expected to have some big camera changes notably the addition of a 48MP main camera. That could lead to sharper overall photos and 8K video, but iPhone Pro main cameras are so good, a bit more focus on the other two rear snappers wouldn't go amiss. We'll just have to see what Apple has instore come the start of the fall. 

Richard Priday
Richard Priday

Richard is a Tom's Guide staff writer based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, gaming, audio 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.