We expect a significant increase in the telephoto capabilities of this year's flagship iPhone as the iPhone 15 Pro Max introduces a periscope lens. This is expected to offer 5x to 10x optical zoom, compared to the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max's maximum 3x zoom.
All reports say the new feature will be exclusive to the top-tier model (which may change branding from Pro Max to Ultra), but a new supply chain report says this will change next year …
We have already explained what a lens is before periscope and what it means. If you've already figured this out, skip ahead.
In the simplest case, a zoom lens requires three elements: front, middle, and back. The front and back elements can be fixed and the middle element moves between them. (In practice, most lenses have additional elements to eliminate distortion.)
The problem with zoom lenses is that the front and back elements need to be a certain distance apart. As a general rule, the higher the zoom factor, the larger this distance should be.
This is a problem when you want to have high optical zoom in a very thin device like the iPhone. Apple gets around this in part with the infamous camera bump that causes the lenses to protrude past the back of the case, but this isn't ideal.
You may not be familiar with periscopes unless you're a submarine fan. or old enough to have it as a toy as a child. It is essentially a tube with two 45-degree lenses mounted on each end. You look to one end and see the image reflected from the other end.
The periscope lens uses the same principle but with only one mirror to deflect the light 90 degrees. iPhone case. Here is a regular lens on the left and a periscope lens on the right:
IPhone Periscope Lens Plans
The release of the iPhone Periscope Lens has been expected for some time, with reports dating back to at least 2020. Subsequent reports suggested that 2023 would be the year, although it was initially unclear which models would receive it. Some reports have suggested that it will appear on both Pro models, and later ones, including Kuo, have said that it will be limited to the iPhone 15 Pro Max/Ultra.
This is confirmed by a new report from The Elec, which says that two Korean companies have contracts to supply components for them, in particular, “drive” mechanism for moving the zoom element inside the lens.
The folding zoom drive for the iPhone 15 series, which will be released by Apple in the second half of this year, will be supplied by two domestic companies, LG Ennotek and Zhwa Electronics […] Apple will bring a foldable zoom to the top model of the iPhone 15 series for the first time this year.
The report goes on to say that a periscope lens is expected to arrive in both Pro models next year.
Apple is reportedly planning to apply one (Promax) to the iPhone 15 series this year. one year and two (Pro) for iPhone 16 series next year.
5x or 10x zoom?
There have been conflicting reports about the zoom capabilities afforded by the iPhone's periscope lens, with some suggesting 5x zoom and others suggesting 10x. (Technically even more than this is possible, but there is a trade-off between coverage and distortion, and Apple will likely prefer quality over quantity.)
Personally, I think Apple will want to make a problem with this feature, so 10 -x optical zoom seems more likely, as it's achievable without much compromise.
Business Insider has a good example of what that range looks like, from 1x left to 10x. right:
Photo: Faizan Ali/Unsplash