iPhone periscope lens coming to both Pro models in 2024


We’re expecting a big boost to the telephoto capabilities of this year’s flagship iPhone, as a periscope lens comes to the iPhone 15 Pro Max. This is expected to offer somewhere in the range of 5x to 10x optical zoom, compared to the maximum 3x zoom of the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max.

All the reports say that the new feature will be exclusive to the top-tier model (which may switch branding from Pro Max to Ultra), but a new supply chain report says that’s set to change next year …

Explainer

We’ve previously explained what a periscope lens is, and what it means. If you’re already up to speed with this, skip on down.

At its simplest, a zoom lens requires three elements: front, middle, and rear. The front and rear elements can be fixed, while the middle element moves between them. (In practice, most lenses have additional elements to help correct distortion.)

The problem with zoom lenses is that the front and rear elements need to be a certain distance apart. In general, the higher the zoom factor, the greater this distance needs to be.

This is a problem when you want to have a high optical zoom within a very slim device like an iPhone. Apple partly gets around this with the infamous camera bump, which sees the lenses stick out beyond the rear casing, but this isn’t an ideal solution.

You may not be familiar with periscopes unless you’re a submarine fan, or old enough to have had one as a childhood toy. Essentially it’s a tube with two 45-degree lenses mounted at either end of them. You look into one end and can see an image reflected from the other end.

A periscope lens uses the same principle, but with just a single mirror, to bend the light 90 degrees. This means that, instead of needing an even bigger camera bump, the length of lens required sits at a 90-degree angle within the iPhone casing. Here you can see a conventional lens left, and a periscope lens right:

iPhone periscope lens plans

An 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, though it was initially unclear which model(s) would get it. Some reports suggested it was coming to both…

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