iPhone 15 Pro Max Camera Specs: 3.5x Periscope Zoom Instead of 5x?

When a company opts for a triple camera setup, choosing the focal length of the third camera is always tricky. Focal lengths for the main and ultra-wide are pretty easy to pick, typically between 23 and 28mm for the primary 1X camera and between 12 and 18mm for the ultra-wide. Apple probably doesn’t want to use four cameras yet to preserve the iconic rear design of the iPhone.

Companies like Oppo went down a different route. Oppo uses a ~3X (65mm) periscope telephoto and no unique lens for higher magnifications. They could fit in two 1/1.56″ IMX890 sensors- one for the ultra-wide and one for the periscope. The details you get with 3X portraits from this sensor are incredible, and the low-light performance is uncontested.

Google uses one 5X periscope camera, and you cannot even take portrait photos with it since the focusing distance is too far away. Portraits and the intermediate 2X to 5X zoom range remain the weakest part of Google’s camera system.

While the iPhone 14 Pro Max isn’t a perfect camera system, it nails portrait mode photos taken at 3X magnification. We were initially worried that if Apple moves to a fixed focus 5X or 10X periscope camera, that would leave the entire range between 1X and 5X/ 10X hanging.

Last year, we saw Apple announce the 2X sensor crop feature. With the 48MP IMX803 sensor, you could crop into the middle 12MP sensor for nearly lossless output. However, since you’re still cropping into the middle, there’s noise and digital sharpening. It’s simply not good enough to eliminate the 3X range and only rely on 2X portraits from the primary sensor.

A sketchy report from a Chinese product page mentions that the phone will get an 85mm periscope. 85mm is equivalent to 3.5X optical zoom, and that’s a pretty good range for Apple. 3.5X isn’t too far from 77mm, so they can still deliver good portrait photos at 85mm. They also have the sensor crop mechanism for those who want closer portraits at 2X.

15 Pro Max Camera

The report mentions that Apple didn’t change the aperture of the 3.5X zoom camera. It’s apparently sticking with 2.8 aperture, which is the same as last year. Reducing the aperture value of the lens lets in more light, but the focus plane becomes too narrow, and Apple doesn’t want that.

The sensor is supposedly a 1/1.9″ sensor, and we’ve seen Apple use a similar size before. The IMX 603 sensor was the primary sensor for the iPhone 12 Pro Max and the iPhone 13. It has a 12MP resolution and a 1/1.9″ size- which is an excellent size for a 3.5X sensor.

We don’t think the 2.8 Aperture is problematic for the iPhone 15 Pro Max. The Honor Magic 5 Pro has an aperture of 3.0 for its 3.5X periscope, and the photos still look good. Even the Oppo Find X6 Pro has a 2.6 Aperture for its 3X periscope, but 65mm isn’t as long as 85mm.

Earlier reports claimed that the maximum zoom supported for the 15 Pro Max would be 6X optical. We assume this is a sensor crop-in from the 3.5X camera or there’s continuous optical zoom technology. We can’t tell for sure, but we’ll assume it’s the former.

Finally, this report is rather sketchy since it’s translated from Chinese. Apple could still very much use a 5X or 6X sensor, and the information is currently lacking, with multiple conflicting reports. We don’t recommend taking this information, and we’re only a week away from the official announcement.

  • Read: iPhone 15 Price Prediction: How Much Will 2023’s Apple Flagship Cost?

He is the Founder & Technical Head of DealNTech. He loves technology and is always hooked on new gadgets. He researches everything from the latest mobile processor development to the most recent display technology on the market. Email: [email protected]. Follow him on X(Twitter)

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