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iPhone 16 Pro Max could get 'super' periscope telephoto

According to this new leak, the 2024 top-end iPhone could beat even the best Android periscope zoom.

Published onJuly 18, 2023

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max camera close
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
  • A leak suggests the iPhone 16 Pro Max could have a telephoto lens with a very high focal length.
  • A machine translation says it could be a “periscope ultra-telephoto,” suggesting a focal length over 300mm.
  • Combined with a rumored sensor increase, the telephoto could be the one to beat in 2024.

For years now, iPhones have lagged way behind Android when it comes to camera zoom. One of the main reasons for this is that many Android flagships have what’s known as periscope zoom lenses. These lenses use mechanical movements to recreate a “real” camera lens and allow for lossless zoom images.

We expect Apple to finally catch up to Android by launching the first iPhone with a periscope lens in 2023. That phone will be the iPhone 15 Pro Max, or iPhone 15 Ultra, as some rumors suggest. Now, though, we have a rumor that the 2024 top-end iPhone could bump things up even more regarding zoom. Prominent leaker Digital Chat Station (h/t MacRumors) says we can expect big upgrades for the iPhone 16 Pro Max (or iPhone 16 Ultra, take your pick).

According to DCS, the top-end 2024 iPhone could land with a “periscope ultra-telephoto.” Although that’s a machine translation, it would appear DCS is saying the telephoto could be a “super” telephoto, meaning it would have a very high focal length. Generally, “super” zoom lenses — like the ones used for sporting events — have a focal length of over 300mm. Current iPhones max out with a focal length of just 77mm, so this would be a significant jump.

This news would seem to stack with DCS’ previous claims of increased sensor sizes in the iPhone 16 series. Theoretically, this could make the iPhone 16 Pro Max a better zoom camera than most Android phones. The Galaxy S23 Ultra, for example, has a 230mm focal length. The Pixel 7 Pro’s focal length is just 120mm.

Of course, who knows what could happen with Android flagships between now and September 2024. It’s possible that by the time the iPhone 16 series comes around, we’ll already have a bunch of Android phones with focal lengths exceeding 300mm. It’s also possible that DCS is incorrect, or Apple won’t be gunning for that 300mm milestone. Either way, it looks like Apple is taking zoom pretty seriously — a few years late.

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