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iPhone 15 Pro could get a periscope lens camera — why that matters

iPhone 13 Pro image showcasing back camera array.
(Image credit: Framesira | Shutterstock)

Forget about the iPhone 14: we’re starting to hear the first murmurs about what the iPhone 15 series might include. While not expected to arrive until late 2023, a new report claims that the iPhone 15 Pro may come with a periscope camera lens and a 5x optical zoom.

This is according to analyst Jeff Pu, in a report seen by 9to5Mac (opens in new tab). Apparently Apple is in negotiations with Lane Optics to supply the lenses, having received samples and supposedly making the final decision by May. 

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard word that Apple may adopt a periscope-style lens in the iPhone. We’ve previously heard rumors that the upgraded camera lenses could arrive on the iPhone 14, though noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo later disagreed. Kuo claimed that the periscope lens wouldn’t arrive until 2023, which is right around the time of the iPhone 15 launch.

However, Pu claims that only the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max will get this upgrade, which makes sense. After all, the telephoto lens has been exclusive to the Pro model iPhones, with the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini skipping the additional camera lens. Plus there have to be some features that make the Pro models worth buying, because a better screen may not be enough.

The periscope lens would prove to be a major boost for Apple’s camera capabilities. Increased optical zoom requires larger camera lenses, with a traditional setup positioning them all horizontally. Naturally your zoom is then limited by the thickness of the phone.

Periscope lenses reposition those components into a vertical setup, which gives phone makers a lot more space to utilize. More space means better optical zoom, which will offer significantly better photo quality than doing it digitally. It’s not a new idea either, and is how phones like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra can offer a 10x optical zoom. So Apple is a little behind the curve when it comes to pure zooming range.

The iPhone 15 is still quite a way off, however, and we still have the iPhone 14 to look forward to. While it may not be coming with a periscope-powered optical zoom, the rumors claim there will be a 48MP main camera, 8K video recording capabilities and potentially a redesigned pill-shaped notch on the Pro and Pro Max models.

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. 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 that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.