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Apple preps a 10x zoom camera – but the iPhone 13 won't get it

iPhone 12 Pro review
(Image credit: TechRadar)

Some serious improvements are likely coming to the iPhone cameras, specifically in the optical zoom department – but the tech won't be ready in time for the iPhone 13 later this year, according to a new report.

South Korean outlet The Elec (which usually gets its Apple information right) says that Apple is investigating the possibility of using Samsung parts to create a folded or periscope zoom camera that extends along the back of the iPhone case.

The technology, pioneered by the likes of Huawei, is known as a periscope camera because the bulk of the optics run at a right angle to the back of the phone, and that means much more room to space out the camera components.

A standard digital camera can physically extend its lenses as you zoom in of course, something that isn't possible on a thin smartphone. Periscope cameras get around that, and it could mean up to 10x optical zoom on a future iPhone handset (the iPhone 12 Pro Max currently tops out at 2.5x).

Zoom with a view

This is actually a rumor that's been gaining momentum for some time: we first heard it mentioned in an analyst report back in July, and then we had another report from South Korea just a week before this latest leak saying Samsung was helping out with supplying the components.

This new report suggests that the iPhone periscope zoom camera might not be ready until 2022 or even 2023. That means it's not going to make the deadline for the iPhone 13 handsets that we're expecting to see later in 2021.

While this sort of tech is already inside phones – such as the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra – Apple will want its own finely tuned implementation in place before it commits to it. LG is also reported to be involved in supplying components for this camera, alongside Samsung.

Camera improvements are par for the course when it comes to annual iPhone upgrade cycles, but you may have to wait until the iPhone 14 to see 10x optical zoom capabilities. It might also be exclusive to the more expensive models in the range, but watch this space.

Via 9to5Mac

David Nield

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. On TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables.