iPhone 16 Pro could be the first mid-level Apple phone with a periscope zoom lens

iPhone 14 Pro
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple’s iPhone 15 range isn’t likely to see the light of day until September 2023, but that hasn’t stopped tipsters from speculating about what to expect from the company’s iPhone 16 lineup, which will almost certainly follow in 2024. 

According to a new report from Korean outlet The Elec (H/T Wccftech), Apple’s iPhone 16 Pro models will arrive sporting a periscope zoom lens – a feature widely expected to be exclusive to the iPhone 15 Ultra when the next iPhones arrive in 2023. 

In other words, customers holding out until 2024 for their next iPhone upgrade may not need to spend big on Apple’s top-of-the-range handset to benefit from periscope zoom technology. Instead, the iPhone 16 Pro could be the first ‘mid-level’ iPhone to offer the sought-after photography feature. 

Periscope cameras – which get their name from their similarity to the instrument used on submarines and other naval vessels – essentially allow the viewer to zoom to extreme lengths while maintaining image quality. In the limited space of a phone's camera module, a periscope camera uses mirrors to allow for more lens elements, and therefore a longer zoom length.

Naturally, smartphone-sized iterations of the technology are expensive to produce, and periscope cameras have so far been reserved for high-end models like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, Huawei P50 Pro, Honor Magic 4 Pro and Xiaomi 12S Ultra.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra in burgundy, held in a hand with the back showing

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra features a periscope zoom lens (Image credit: Samsung)

Of course, the iPhone 16 Pro (and its inevitable Pro Max sibling) will almost certainly still sit at the high-end of Apple's smartphone range – the iPhone 14 Pro, for instance, retails for the not-so-small price of $999 / £1,099 / AU$1,749 – but the rumored existence of an iPhone 15 Ultra suggests Apple will also be releasing an iPhone 16 Ultra, which would relegate the iPhone 16 Pro to mid-tier status (as Apple devices go, at least).

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News of the iPhone 16 Pro’s periscope lens comes just days after other rumors hinted that Apple’s Dynamic Island – the virtual notch replacement that debuted as a Pro-exclusive feature on last year’s iPhone 14 lineup – will find its way onto every iPhone 15 model in 2023

It’s clear, then, that Apple is keen to make its newer, high-end features available to as many users as possible – but only after those features have enjoyed a year of top-level iPhone exclusivity. 

Other features touted as being exclusive to the rumored iPhone 15 Ultra include Apple’s next chip upgrade – likely to be the A17 Bionic – and a titanium frame. If we were a betting publication, we’d wager that both features will be appearing on the iPhone 16 Pro, too. 

Axel Metz
Phones Editor

Axel is TechRadar's UK-based Phones Editor, reporting on everything from the latest Apple developments to newest AI breakthroughs as part of the site's Mobile Computing vertical. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion.  Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned an NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme.