When Apple launched the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro with relatively minor enhancements to the camera array, we were OK with it. Rumors were already swirling about massive changes to the iPhone 14’s camera, including one of our most anticipated features: a periscope lens for superior zoom capabilities.
Now it looks like that might not happen. While previous rumors suggested Apple would be adding new zoom capabilities to the iPhone 14, to a new report from Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple is planning a periscope lens for the iPhone 15 in 2023, meaning we’ll go another generation taking terrible telephoto photos. Apple’s iPhone zoom falls woefully short of its competitors with a 3X optical zoom on the Pro models and 2X on the non-Pro models and a barely usable digital zoom. A periscope camera will allow Apple to push optical zoom to 10X and vastly improve the range and quality of digital zoom.
A periscope lens works much like a submarine’s periscope does, using mirrors and prisms to reflect light and magnify images. A folded design allows a much larger camera to fit inside a smartphone frame without needing to dramatically increase the thickness or the size of the camera array.
Several premium Android phones already use periscope lens for their zoom cameras, including the Samsung Galaxy S21, Vivo X70 Pro+, and Huawei P50. Samsung has shipped phones with 100X zoom for years, underscoring the capabilities of a periscope lens. Apple often ships major camera features several generations behind its competitors to ensure a top-notch experience as most recently seen with night mode.
Apple is expected to add a 48MP camera in the iPhone 14 for sharper photos and 8K videos along with a new design and cheaper Max model.