Here’s What to Expect from the iPhone 15 Camera Lineup

person holding iPhone 14 Pro Credit: Quinn Battick
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With Apple’s iPhone 15 unveiling only days away, we’re starting to see some of the usual eleventh-hour leaks on what we can expect from this year’s iPhone lineup. After all, at this point, the design of the iPhone is finalized, mass production is already well underway, and there’s a good chance the first shipments are on their way to Apple Stores.

As with prior years, new camera improvements are likely to be the most significant part of the iPhone 15 lineup across the board, and we’ve been hearing bits and pieces about these for weeks, including a 48-megapixel (MP) sensor coming to the standard iPhone 15, plus of course the vaunted periscope camera system for the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

Now, the folks over at MacRumors have managed to get their hands on detailed information on the camera specs across the entire iPhone 15 lineup. There aren’t too many surprises here, but it does confirm everything we’ve been hearing so far in one fell swoop while adding a few other tidbits.

The iPhone 15 Cameras

Firstly, the info confirms that the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus will indeed be getting a 48MP shooter for the main wide lens. It’s the Sony sensor that we’ve been hearing about for a while, and it will apparently feature an f/1.6 aperture. While that puts it slightly behind the f/1.5 of the iPhone 14’s 12MP sensor, the quadrupled resolution will easily compensate for that by capturing more light, much like the 48MP did for the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max last year.

Notably, the f/1.6 aperture also puts the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus slightly ahead of the iPhone 14 Pro’s 48MP camera, which came in at f/1.78. This means that all other things being equal, the iPhone 15 could actually provide better low-light photography than its higher-end predecessor. MacRumors adds that It’s also not simply getting the 48MP sensor from last year’s Pro models, which was a Sony IMX-803, but rather “a different Sony sensor with improved capabilities.”

The 48MP camera claim is nothing new, as rumors have been swirling about it for a few months now, but this is the first we’ve seen solid confirmation on the aperture and sensor configuration.

While that’s a significant bump for the main camera, the second Ultra Wide will remain a 12MP sensor with an f/2.4 aperture, likely the same as what’s found in the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus.

The iPhone 15 Pro Cameras

Interestingly, the information obtained by MacRumors suggests that the iPhone 15 Pro models won’t get the same 48MP sensor upgrade as the lower-end iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus. Instead, it’s expected to continue using the same 48MP sensor from the iPhone 14 Pro, with the same f/1.78 aperture as its predecessor.

That’s an unusual move since it means Apple would be giving a more capable sensor to the standard iPhone 15 lineup, and it also flies in the face of previous rumors that suggested the Pro lineup would get the newer and better Sony IMX-903 image sensor.

Apple will apparently make up for this by boosting the sensors in the telephoto and ultra-wide cameras, which will reportedly be 12.7MP and 13.4MP, respectively. However, that’s not a significant bump over the 12MP sensors on the iPhone 14 Pro, and the iPhone 15 Pro is also expected to feature the same f/2.8 and f/2.2 apertures.

While the telephoto lens on the iPhone 15 Pro will also likely remain at a 3X optical zoom, the iPhone 15 Pro Max will be equipped with the much-rumored periscope lens system, providing significant improvements to the optical zoom capabilities. MacRumors wasn’t able to get any specific numbers for what to expect here beyond the same 5x to 10x range that we’ve been hearing about for a while.

As we’ve suspected for a while, the periscope lens system will only arrive on the iPhone 15 Pro Max, marking the first time since 2020 that the larger model has offered better camera capabilities. Apple’s reasons for this are pragmatic — it has much more to do with design constraints than a desire to set the iPhone 15 Pro Max apart as a more premium model.

To achieve a higher optical zoom level, it’s necessary to place lenses farther apart. That’s why zoom lenses on traditional DSLR and film cameras get longer as the zoom factor increases. However, there’s only so much room inside a smartphone, so a periscope lens system uses angled mirrors to separate the lenses along the length of the device rather than the depth. In other words, the light that comes in the outward-facing lens is reflected at a 90-degree angle into a perpendicular sensor.

As you might expect, this means that periscope lens systems require more space inside the phone, and analysts have already been suggesting for a while that Apple simply doesn’t have the room to fit the new lens system inside the 6.1-inch iPhone 15 Pro.

This has been confirmed by sources speaking with MacRumors this week, adding that the camera module used in the iPhone 15 Pro Max may already be slightly larger than the iPhone 14 Pro Max and iPhone 15 Pro, as Apple has needed to shift things around to accommodate the new periscope lens. We’ve previously heard that Apple may also need to rearrange the camera layout on the iPhone 15 Pro Max for the same reason, swapping the positions of the telephoto and ultra-wide lenses to provide room for the periscope system to either extend sideways, toward the location of the volume buttons, or downwards beneath the LiDAR sensor. While the iPhone 15 Pro won’t have the periscope lens system, it’s likely Apple will swap the cameras on that model as well for the sake of consistency.

The periscope lens isn’t expected to remain exclusive to the Max-sized iPhone beyond this year. Apple is already said to be planning to increase the size of the iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max, with the smaller model growing to a 6.3-inch screen that will presumably give Apple the space it needs for the new camera system.

Either way, we’ll know soon enough if all these camera rumors are accurate. Apple will be holding its Wonderlust event this coming Tuesday, September 12, at 10:00 a.m. PT (1:00 p.m. ET), where it’s expected to unveil the entire iPhone 15 lineup along with two new Apple Watch models and maybe even some new AirPods.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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