The iPhone periscope lens will be available on both Pro models in 2024
With the periscope lens coming to the iPhone 15 Pro Max, we’re expecting a big improvement in the telephoto capabilities of this year’s flagship iPhone. This should 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 reports say the new feature will be exclusive to the top-end model (which could take the brand from Pro Max to Ultra), but a new supply chain report says that will change next year…
We have already explained what a periscope lens is and what it shows. If you’re already aware of it, go ahead.
In its simplest form, zooming requires three elements: front, center, and back. The front and back elements can be fixed, while the central element moves between them. (In practice, most lenses have additional elements to help correct distortion.)
The problem with magnification is that the front and back elements must be a certain distance apart. In general, the higher the magnification factor, the greater this distance should be.
This is a problem when you want high optical zoom on a very thin device like the iPhone. Apple partially solves this with the infamous camera bump, which sees the lens protrude from the back housing, but it’s not an ideal solution.
Unless you’re a fan of submarines or old enough to own one as a childhood toy, you may not be familiar with periscopes. It is basically a tube with two 45 degree lenses mounted on each end. You look at one end and you can see an image reflected at the other end.
A periscope lens uses the same principle, but with a single mirror to bend the light 90 degrees. This means that instead of needing a larger camera bump, the required lens length sits at a 90-degree angle to the iPhone body. Here you can see the normal lens on the left and the periscope lens on the right:
iPhone Periscope Lens Plans
A periscope lens for the iPhone has been expected for some time, with reports dating back to at least 2020. Later reports suggested a 2023 year, though it was initially unclear which model(s) would get it. Some reports have suggested it will come to both Pro models, while more recent ones, including Actu, have said it will be limited to the iPhone 15 Pro Max/Ultra.
New report from Chosen Reflecting this, it says two Korean companies have contracts to supply components for them – specifically the “actuator” mechanism to move the zoom element to the lens.
The folding zoom actuator for the iPhone 15 series, which will be released by Apple in the second half of this year, will be provided by two local companies, LG Ennotek and Zhwa Electronics. […] Apple will introduce tilt zoom for the high-end model of the iPhone 15 series for the first time this year.
The report further states that the periscope lens is expected to arrive on both Pro models next year.
Apple plans to introduce one (Promax) for the iPhone 15 series this year and two (Pro) for the iPhone 16 series next year.
5x or 10x zoom?
There are conflicting reports about the zoom capability offered by the iPhone’s periscope lens, with some suggesting 5x and others 10x. (More than is technically possible, but there are trade-offs between range and distortion, and Apple will likely favor quality over quantity.)
Personally, I think Apple will want to make a big deal out of this feature, so 10x optical zoom seems more likely, as it can be achieved without too many compromises.
Business Experience Here’s a good example of what this range looks like from 1x left to 10x right:
Photo: Faizan Ali/Unsplash
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