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Kuo: 2023 iPhones to debut Apple’s new periscope telephoto lens system

The iPhone models that Apple plans on releasing in 2023 may feature a new periscope-lens design for the telephoto camera to enable much deeper optical zoom, says a reliable analyst.


STORY HIGHLIGHTS:

  • A periscope camera design would enable much deeper optical zoom.
  • Several Android makers are already using this technology.
  • Kuo previously called for periscope-style iPhone cameras in 2022.

A periscope telephoto lens on 2023 iPhones

The prediction was made in a new research note by TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has the best track record predicting Apple’s future moves. In his note to clients, seen by MacRumors and 9to5Mac, the reliable analyst expresses his belief that some or all iPhones releasing in 2023 would use a periscope-style design for the telephoto camera.

This would help increase optical zoom without making the phone any thicker.

That’s a slight change from Kuo’s earlier note that called for an iPhone featuring a periscope-style telephoto lens in 2022, not 2023. Also worth noting, the revered analyst previously said that periscope-style lenses would be coming to certain iPad and MacBook models.

In addition to a new periscope telephoto lens, the 2023 iPhones could also drop the notch altogether by switching to a new under-display Face ID system, Kuo said in the note.

What’s a periscope lens?

Telephoto lenses on current iPhones are limited to front-to-back.

A periscope-style camera design enables smartphone vendors to increase optical zoom without making their devices thicker. The iPhone 12 Pro supports 2x optical zoom and 10x digital zoom. The iPhone 12 Pro Max, on the other hand, blends a 2.5x optical zoom of its telephoto lens (focal length: 65mm) with the wide-angle lens for a 5x optical zoom range.

In order to enable you to get even closer up to subjects, the iPhone switches to digital zoom on the fly but that inevitably introduces various artifacts and loss of detail.

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A periscope lens would solve that problem easily. Utilizing a system of prisms and mirrors, a foldable lens design directs light toward an imaging sensor deep inside the handset chassis. With a periscope-style telephoto lens, Apple engineers would theoretically be able to add a longer focal length along the long dimension of the phone.

Similar designs have been tried and tested in the wild by several Android makers—both Samsung’s Galaxy S20 Ultra and Oppo’s Find X2 Pro and Reno 10X Zoom Edition provide a 10x optical zoom. Meanwhile, Huawei’s P30 Pro and Vivo’s X3o Pro come with a 5x optical zoom.

Image credit: Oppo

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