Apple’s 48MP camera trickling down to non-Pro models with the iPhone 15 series

Apple’s 48MP camera should trickle down to the more affordable iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus, which are scheduled to launch in September of this year.

Yellow iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus
Camera improvements coming to regular iPhone 15 models | Image: Apple
  • A new analyst report based on supply chain sources suggests the upcoming iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus will adopt a 48-megapixel camera sensor.
  • In 2022, Apple debuted an upgraded camera system with a new 48-megapixel sensor exclusive to the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max.
  • Apple’s most advanced camera features are usually reserved for Pro-branded iPhones, but over time trickle down to all models.

Non-Pro iPhone 15 cameras could go 48 megapixels

Haitong International Securities analyst Jeff Pu wrote in a note to clients, seen by MacRumors, that 2024’s iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus models could get delayed because camera suppliers are rumored to be experiencing issues with a new three-stacked camera sensor component that can capture more light.

The situation could result in a delay of non-Pro models. As of right now, Pu expects the more affordable iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus to launch alongside the pricier iPhone 15 Pros in September 2023. But if Apple doesn’t resolve the supply side of the equation, the non-Pro iPhone 15 models could drop later than expected.

Pixel binning

By default, the iPhone 14 Pros take 48-megapixel photos and then use a technique called pixel binning to combine four smaller pixels into one super pixel, resulting in a 12-megapixel image. Pixel binning saves storage and improves low-light sensitivity.

If you prefer shooting in the RAW format, you must first enable the 48-megapixel capture option in Settings > Camera > Formats. Concretely, switch on the Apple ProRAW option, hit ProRaw Resolution and select 48 MP.

Shooting 48-megapixel images on iPhone

Shooting 48-megapixel images in ProRAW mode can be very taxing on storage. According to Apple, a typical 48-megapixel photograph encoded in the ProRAW format takes up about 75 megabytes of storage.

The same ProRAW photo but captured in twelve megapixels requires three times less storage space, or 25 megabytes. By comparison, twelve-megapixel images shot in the lossy HEIFF format are a fraction of the size, circa two megabytes.

Other iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro features

The rumor mill earlier churned out several predictions for this year’s iPhones. The iPhone 15 lineup should adopt USB-C for charging and data instead of Lightning.

Non-Pro models should offer 128/256/512GB storage tiers like the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus, with the one-terabyte option reserved for the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. In other words, storage capacities for this year’s upcoming iPhone 15 family will remain the same as those of the iPhone 14 models.

The Pro models should use an upgraded Apple A17 Bionic chip with more RAM (eight gigabytes), while the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus should run the current A16 chip that debuted in the iPhone 14 Pros.

The iPhone 15 Pros are expected to offer other exclusive features not found on their non-Pro counterparts, too, including lighter and stronger titanium casings and a periscope camera with deeper optical zoom.