I'm a camera expert and here's how the iPhone 16 could raise Apple's pro-photography game

an image of the iPhone 15 Pro Max
(Image credit: Future / Roland Moore-Colyer)

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is Apple’s most advanced phone to date and there are many reasons why it’s one of the best phones in the world at the moment. Unfortunately, I don't think the camera is one of those reasons. 

On paper, when compared to the Xiaomi 14 Ultra, Apple's flagship phone looks woefully inadequate. The primary cameras on both offer comparable resolutions but the 14 Ultra has a variable aperture. The resolution of the 14 Ultra’s three other rear cameras boast a 50-megapixel resolution, whereas the iPhone drops all the way down to 12MP. The iPhone also lacks a middle range telephoto.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max camera system is by no means poor when it comes to optics but it’s certainly in danger of slipping behind the technological advances that we’re seeing from Xiaomi or even the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra.

Are changes coming?

An image of the iPhone 15 Pro Max and Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

(Image credit: Future / Roland Moore-Colyer)

As a result, I’m waiting with baited breath to see what Apple does with its iPhone 16 series of phones that are likely to be launched and released in September 2024. Considering an increasing number of pro photographers and videographers are turning to their phones for their work, Apple won’t want anyone jumping ship in the search for better quality.

I don’t think it’s too late for Apple, though. The Cupertino company has a habit of keeping loyal customers for a long time after iPhone features have slipped behind the competition. There is something about Apple’s design and the ecosystem that keeps people coming back again and again. Despite that, I would like to see a number of improvements to the rumored iPhone 16 Pro's cameras.

The changes that Apple needs to make

One of the main improvements would be to increase the resolution across the iPhone cameras, both front and back. 12MP is fine for shooting snaps of your family but isn’t great for pro work. Increasing all the cameras to 48MP would communicate a real sense of commitment to Apple's serious phone photography users.

I’d also love to see the introduction of a true variable aperture. I love this feature on the Xiaomi 14 Ultra, as it gives me the ability to more accurately control the amount of light that hits the sensor and how that impacts the bokeh. I’m less concerned about Apple increasing the Pro iPhones' rear cameras from three to four but if it manages it, then I certainly wouldn’t object.

This is a pivotal time for Apple. If it doesn't improve in the iPhone 16 series, then Xiaomi will no doubt push further ahead of the pack, in my opinion at least. Only time will tell whether Apple sees the camera hardware as vital for development or whether other priorities like Apple Intelligence will take centre stage at when we see the next-generation iPhones, likely at an Apple event in September. 

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Freelance writer

Paul is a digital expert. In the 20 years since he graduated with a first-class honours degree in Computer Science, Paul has been actively involved in a variety of different tech and creative industries that make him the go-to guy for reviews, opinion pieces, and featured articles. With a particular love of all things visual, including photography, videography, and 3D visualisation Paul is never far from a camera or other piece of tech that gets his creative juices going. You'll also find his writing in other places, including Creative Bloq, Digital Camera World, and 3D World Magazine.