Apple introduced 3x optical zoom to the iPhone with the iPhone 13 lineup in 2021, and this year, the company decided to make the jump to a 5x telephoto camera and closed the gap in zooming capabilities between iPhones and Android flagships.
While a 3x telephoto lens was introduced for both the Pro and Pro Max models at the same time, Apple chose to keep 5x optical zoom exclusive to the iPhone 15 Pro Max. But rumors have suggested that could change next year, and a new report from industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is backing up those rumors.
The iPhone 16 Pro will reportedly feature a 5x telephoto lens, giving it the same zoom prowess as the iPhone 15 Pro Max. The iPhone 16 Pro Max is also likely to use the same zoom camera as Apple isn’t in the business of bringing major hardware upgrades on a yearly basis.
Unlike Android manufacturers, Apple opted for tetraprism technology over a periscope lens to achieve 5x zoom. Both tetraprism and periscope lenses bend light in order to achieve higher magnification while being able to fit inside a smartphone, but the tetraprism lens on the iPhone 15 Pro Max bends light four times to create a focal length closer to that of a DSLR.
The tetraprism lens also takes up less space than a periscope lens, which allowed Apple to equip the telephoto lens on the iPhone 15 Pro Max with an advanced stabilization system that combines traditional optical image stabilization and a sensor-shift autofocus module that can move in three different directions, a first for any smartphone.
However, the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s 5x image quality at 5x zoom doesn’t always match the quality of pictures captured by Android devices, but Apple will probably address that with the iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max by better optimizing the camera algorithms.