iPhone 15 Ultra periscope camera tipped to borrow Samsung technology

iPhone 15 Pro render from 4RMD
(Image credit: 4RMD)

The iPhone 15 Pro Max — possibly launching as the rumored iPhone 15 Ultra — has been rumored to get a new periscope lens camera for some time now. This would increase the optical zoom capabilities of the iPhone’s camera, putting it closer in line with the 10x optical zoom seen on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.

But now it seems this upgrade could be borrowed from Samsung tech. According to The Elec (as translated from Korean) that Apple will use Korean companies LG Innotek and Jahwa Electronics for the optical image stabilization (OIS) actuators that move the lens in the periscope lens to zoom in or zoom out. Apple has reportedly chosen these suppliers because they partnered with Samsung to develop a ball guide actuator that is technologically superior to the current spring mechanic that Apple uses in the iPhone OIS actuators.

It appears that Apple is aware of Samsung’s supremacy when it comes to powerful optical zoom on camera phones, and instead of trying to beat them is joining them — or at least partnering up with one of Samsung’s suppliers. If Apple successfully adds a periscope lens to the iPhone 15 Ultra that combines the iPhone’s superior image processing capabilities with Samsung’s superior optical zoom technology, the phone could be a clear front-runner for the best camera phone on the market when it launches later this year. 

Additionally, it seems that the periscope lens could be coming to the iPhone 16 Pro and Ultra models in 2024 rather than just the Ultra model. The periscope lens — which The Elec refers to as a “Folded Zoom” in its report —  is slated to be produced for the iPhone 15 Ultra only this year, but now there are seemingly plans to make it available on both the iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Ultra in 2024.

This reporting largely matches up with the rumors we've seen up to this point, at least in terms of limiting the periscope lens to the iPhone 15 Ultra model rather than bringing it to the iPhone 15 Pro as well. While some initial rumors suggested that both the Pro and the Ultra models would get the new periscope lens, more recent reporting — including this TrendForce report — has seemingly shot that theory down. Keep following along with the latest iPhone 15 Ultra rumors for the latest on everything coming to Apple’s next generation of the best phone we’ve tested. 

Malcolm McMillan
A/V, AI and VR Writer

Malcolm McMillan is a staff writer for Tom's Guide, writing about the latest in tech, gaming and entertainment with a particular focus on artificial intelligence (AI) and AI-based tools like ChatGPT. He has written up much of our coverage on the latest AI tools including ChatGPT, the new GPT-powered Bing and Google Bard. He also covers A/V tech such as televisions, soundbars and more, in addition to covering VR headsets from the Meta Quest 3 to the PS VR2.

Before writing for Tom's Guide, Malcolm worked as a fantasy football analyst writing for several sites and also had a brief stint working for Microsoft selling laptops, Xbox products and even the ill-fated Windows phone. He is passionate about video games and sports, though both cause him to yell at the TV frequently. He proudly sports many tattoos, including an Arsenal tattoo, in honor of the team that causes him to yell at the TV the most.