iPhone 15 Pro could get 5x optical zoom, but that’s not good enough

iPhone 13 Pro
An iPhone 13 Pro (Image credit: TechRadar)

While the iPhone 14 range hasn’t even launched yet, we’ve already repeatedly heard something about the iPhone 15 family, and that’s that the Pro models will apparently have a periscope camera for long-range zoom. Now we’re hearing that again, and this time with a bit more specificity.

According to Jeff Pu (an analyst with a mixed track record for Apple information) in a report seen by 9to5Mac, the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max will offer 5x optical zoom – up from 3x on the current models.

Supposedly Apple is in negotiations with Lante Optics for these periscope zoom lenses, with the latter company likely to supply more than 100 million components to Apple if a deal is reached. So it sounds like there’s still a chance this won’t happen.

Apple has reportedly received component samples from Lante Optics and will apparently reach a final decision by May. If a deal isn’t done, we’d expect Apple would look for a different supplier, but whether one could be found in time for the iPhone 15 range isn’t clear.

Still, a periscope zoom is a logical upgrade for the iPhone range, as it’s a camera design that allows for much longer distance zoom than standard telephoto lenses like those found in current iPhones. So we’d think sooner or later it’s near-certain that Apple will offer this.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra zooms twice as far (Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

Opinion: 5x is a start, but it’s not enough

Most of the leaks about periscope zoom coming to the iPhone 15 Pro haven’t talked about a specific zoom distance, leaving me to hope that we’d see 10x optical zoom, but this latest report suggests that the iPhone 15 Pro will only be capable of 5x optical zoom.

That’s not a huge jump on the 3x optical zoom that Apple’s top phones are already capable of, so it will lack the wow factor of 10x zoom. And while it could work well for, say, portrait photography, it won’t be as beneficial as 10x would be for photographing wildlife and other distant subjects that you can’t easily get close to (such as details high up on buildings or ships out at sea).

If the iPhone 15 Pro range really does offer 5x optical zoom that also suggests it will probably only have one optical zoom lens, since that’s a middle ground between 3x and 10x. That’s a shame too, as I’d much rather see the versatility of two (or more) optical zoom distances, like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra offers with both 3x and 10x, giving users the best of both worlds.

Of course, the iPhone 15 range is still more than 18 months away, so it’s too soon to be confident of anything yet. Hopefully Apple will get zoom right.

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to 3G.co.uk, 4G.co.uk and 5G.co.uk and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.