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Here's why your flagship phone doesn't have a telephoto camera (probably)

A ZTE executive lamented the lack of zoom-focused cameras on some flagships, giving a potential reason too.

Published onJanuary 19, 2022

ZTE Axon 30 Ultra left camera profile
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
  • A ZTE executive has bemoaned the lack of telephoto or periscope cameras on some flagship phones.
  • The executive claimed that these cameras can be more expensive than main cameras.

Telephoto and periscope zoom cameras are among the most useful secondary cameras around, allowing you to get more detailed zoomed shots without physically moving closer to a subject. Unfortunately, we’ve seen a trend in recent years for some flagship phones to skip a zoom-focused camera, such as the Google Pixel 6, iPhone 13, and OnePlus 9.

Now, ZTE executive Lu Qianhao has published a Weibo post bemoaning the lack of telephoto and periscope cameras on some flagship phones.

“It is a little regrettable that there is a general lack of 3x optical zoom, let alone a 5x or more periscope camera,” reads a machine-translated excerpt of the post.

“Of course, the reason is very simple. The cost of the telephoto lens is very high, especially the cost of the periscope camera plus OIS is even higher than that of many main cameras that claim to be outsole [large or outsized – ed],” the executive explains.

An understandable yet disappointing move

It’s not a surprise to hear that pricing is the apparent reason why some flagship phones lack telephoto or periscope cameras. After all, some affordable flagships like the Pixel 6 retail for $600, which means there isn’t much wiggle room for the bill of materials without cutting into the profit margin.

Nevertheless, it’s still a little disappointing to see telephoto or periscope cameras missing from many flagships, especially when earlier devices like the OnePlus 7T, Xiaomi Mi 9T series, and realme X50 Pro all offered telephoto lenses (as well as more contemporary devices like the S20 FE and S21 FE). Qianhao’s statement probably means that we can expect ZTE’s next flagship phone to indeed offer a telephoto or periscope camera though.

Do you care about telephoto or periscope cameras on your flagship phone? Give us your thoughts via the poll below.

Do you care about telephoto/periscope cameras on flagship phones?

988 votes

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