Apple might be the king of camera zoom in 2024, because while Samsung is rumored to be dropping from 10x optical zoom to 5x with the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, Apple will quite possibly move beyond 5x or even 10x with the iPhone 16 Pro Max.
The latest evidence for this comes from a report in the Economic Daily News (via MacRumors), which states that Apple plans to use advanced molded glass lenses in the iPhone 16 Pro Max. This type of lens is reportedly slimmer than what Apple is currently using, meaning the camera bump could be smaller, and the phone as a whole could be thinner and lighter.
However, the really big improvement these lenses allow for is increased optical zoom distance. As for exactly how much further the phone might be able to zoom, this report doesn’t say. But an earlier leak suggested the iPhone 16 Pro Max would have a ‘super telephoto’ lens, which is a term usually applied to focal lengths of over 300mm. For reference, the 5x zoom on the iPhone 15 Pro Max is 120mm, so that could mean a zoom of greater than 10x.
Potentially benefiting the iPhone 16 Pro too
It's not clear from this report whether the iPhone 16 Pro would also benefit from this glass, but we’ve previously heard that the iPhone 16 Pro might get the 5x zoom of the iPhone 15 Pro Max (up from just 3x zoom on the iPhone 15 Pro).
That doesn’t rule out the use of such glass, indeed, the smaller size of the iPhone 15 Pro is reportedly one reason why it didn’t have the increased zoom distance offered by the 15 Pro Max, as there wasn’t space for the hardware. So using this thinner molded glass could be a solution.
There’s also some bad news in this report though, as these molded glass lenses apparently cost more to produce than the current cameras, which in turn might lead to the iPhone 16 Pro Max (and the iPhone 16 Pro if it also uses this glass) being more expensive.
Still, it’s very early for iPhone 16 line leaks, so take all of this with a pinch of salt. We probably won’t see these phones officially until September of 2024, but in the meantime, there are lots of other excellent options among the best iPhones.
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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.