Kuo: Periscope lens exclusive to iPhone 15 Pro Max—until 2024

Apple’s predicted to bring a periscope lens exclusively to 2023’s iPhone 15 Pro Max, with both iPhone 16 Pro models believed to get this upgrade in 2024.

A still from Apple's ad promoting better low-light sensitivity on the iPhone 13 Pro camera. the image shows the triple-leans rear camera system with a woman's reflection in one of the lenses and the tagline "Hollywood in your pocket"
Apple’s periscope lens should debut this year | Image credit: Apple
  • Reputable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claims that Apple’s rumored periscope lens will be exclusive to this year’s iPhone 15 Pro Max.
  • The regular Pro model should get a periscope lens in 2024, with the iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max both thought to offer the feature.
  • Periscope lenses (or zoom/foldable lenses) divert light through a prism to enable deeper optical zoom than is possible with regular smartphone lenses.

Periscope lens exclusive to the flagship iPhone 15 Pro Max?

Adding a periscope lens to the Apple smartphone will enable a much deeper optical zoom from the current 3x to the rumored 6x optical zoom and beyond. By comparison, Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Ultra has a 10x optical zoom.

Depending on the implementation, a periscope lens is usually positioned at a ninety-degree angle to a rear-facing lens. Typically, a periscope lens is buried deep inside the chassis and could be the reason why next year’s Pro-branded phones are rumored to use bigger screens. Concretely, the current 6.1 and 6.7-inch iPhone sizes are  excepted to grow next year to 6.3 and 6.9 inches, respectively.

Kuo also reiterated that all four 2023 iPhones—iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max—will sport the exact screen sizes as the current models.

So that’s why 2024 iPhones are getting bigger screens

A larger casing with extra room could be precisely what Apple’s engineers need in order to fit a periscope lens inside the regular iPhone 16 Pro model.

This wasn’t lost on Kuo, with his Medium post explaining that slightly larger displays on the 2024 iPhones will allow the regular iPhone 16 Pro to be equipped with a periscope camera thanks to a larger internal space.

iPhone 15 Pro Max may rearrange the triple-lens cameras

“It’s expected that iPhone 16 Pro Max and iPhone 16 Pro will have periscope lenses versus only the iPhone Pro Max among the iPhone 15 series),” Kuo said. He added that Apple will buy periscope lenses for next year’s iPhones from supplier Cowell.

Kuo’s predictions were corroborated by @Unknownz21 on Twitter, who added that the the rear camera layout on the iPhone 15 Pro Max will be adjusted to accommodate a periscope lens. The ultra wide and telephoto cameras on the iPhone 15 Pro Max have apparently swapped their positions.

As a result, the main camera sitting between the flash and LiDAR sensor (“Wide” camera in Apple talk) is the one with periscope lens. While the iPhone 15 Pro should adopt this layout, it’ll retain Apple’s regular telephoto lens this year.

We have a quick primer for those interested to learn more about folded lenses, including how an iPhone with a periscope lens could boost your photography game.