iPhone periscope cameras could be years away

iPhone 12 Pro Max review
The iPhone 12 Pro Max (Image credit: TechRadar)

While most iPhone rumors are focused on the iPhone 13 arriving later this year, we’re also hearing about changes that could be further out, and one of those is a periscope camera, which according to a new report we won’t see on an iPhone until 2023.

That’s according to Ming-Chi Kuo (an analyst with a superb track record for Apple information). He made the claim in a research note seen by MacRumors, and we can’t help but be slightly disappointed by this, given that Samsung and Huawei already sell phones with periscope cameras.

These are a type of zoom lens that allow for a far greater optical zoom range in a small form factor than a conventional telephoto camera. As such, they’ve allowed the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra to offer 10x optical zoom (and 100x digital), while the iPhone 12 Pro for example only has 2x optical zoom.

It’s a believable claim though, given that Apple is rarely in any hurry to jump on tech bandwagons. It’s worth noting that 2023 would be a year later than Kuo previously claimed we’d see this, but sooner or later Apple will almost certainly stick a periscope camera on an iPhone, as other sources have also claimed the company is working on it.

Other upgrades

And the iPhone 13 range might still get some upgrades to their telephoto cameras, with Kuo claiming that the “high-end” models (presumably meaning the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max) will have six-element telephoto lenses, up from five-element ones on current models.

This should lead to improved photos, and the telephoto camera will apparently be further upgraded to a seven-element lens for the iPhone 14 next year.

Other claims made by Kuo include the use of a plastic rather than glass Face ID transmitter for the iPhone 13, though it’s not clear whether this has any advantages beyond saving Apple money.

Finally, 2022’s iPhone 14 range may apparently have a new “unibody lens design”, which will allow Apple to reduce the size of the front camera. By extension it would presumably also allow Apple to reduce the notch (or maybe even get rid of the notch altogether) but this research note doesn’t specify.

This change will apparently be coming in 2022 “at the earliest” though, so it’s another feature that we might be waiting until 2023 for.

As ever we’d take all of this with a pinch of salt, especially for iPhones that are more than a year away, but as sources go, Kuo is a good one.

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.