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iPhone 16 Pro zoom camera upgrade means I might not need a Pro Max

Published Dec 21st, 2023 12:38PM EST
iPhone 15 Pro Max cameras
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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The iPhone 16 launch is about nine months away, but Apple’s biggest secrets might have leaked already. A rumor says that all iPhone 16 models will feature new A18 chips, though the Pro versions will likely get a better “A18 Pro” version. Moreover, the iPhone 16 Pro screens should be larger than their predecessors.

Apple isn’t increasing the iPhone size just to have larger screens. Reports have long tied the larger iPhone 16 Pro and 16 Pro Max to Apple’s need to expand the internal space, especially on the smaller model. Apple wants to equip the smaller iPhone 16 Pro with the same tetraprism telephoto lens found inside the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

A new report claims that this is indeed still the plan, with purported internal documentation confirming the iPhone 16 Pro’s advanced zoom camera. And I hope this rumor is real — not because I necessarily need a tetraprism zoom camera, but because of the size increase I mentioned above.

I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a Plus or Pro Max-sized iPhone next year. But I might not need to if the regular Pro gets the 6.3-inch screen upgrade that we’re all expecting.

According to documents seen by MacRumors, the iPhone 16 Pro will feature a camera module similar to the iPhone 15 Pro Max. “At a glance, the area containing the tetraprism components can be easily identified,” the blog wrote. The same design will be used inside the iPhone 16 Pro Max, of course.

With several months to go before Apple starts assembling the iPhone 16 models, there’s plenty of time for things to change. The leaked documentation might not show the final internal design of the upcoming iPhones.

However, MacRumors isn’t the first to report on Apple’s plans for the iPhone 16 Pro camera. And history tells us that Apple is looking to offer uniform camera experiences across the board. The iPhone 12 Pro Max was the only iPhone with sensor-shift optical image stabilization. But that camera upgrade reached all iPhone 13 models a year later.

The zoom camera is restricted to the iPhone Pros, as the non-Pro variants only feature two lenses. However, bringing the tetraprism tech to the smaller iPhone 16 Pro makes sense.

The 2024 Pro models will increase in size to accommodate the zoom camera. The iPhone 16 Pro will feature a 6.3-inch display instead of a 6.1-inch screen. The iPhone 16 Pro Max will move from 6.7-inch to 6.9-inch.

iPhone 15 Pro Max Screen
iPhone 15 Pro Max’s screen. Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

The current 6.1-inch iPhone 15 Pro can’t fit the tetraprism lens. Or, better said, Apple would have to sacrifice internal space reserved for the battery to add a periscope lens. A slightly wider and taller iPhone would help Apple deploy the camera without compromising battery life.

But the iPhone 15 Pro can fit a tetraprism camera. So why the size change? Well, only increasing the size of the smaller Pro could hurt the Pro Max. At 6.3-inch, the iPhone 16 Pro would be almost as big as the 6.7-inch Pro Max. Moving to a 6.9-inch panel lets Apple maintain a clear size difference between the Pros.

Moreover, this could help improve the iPhone 16 Pro Max’s battery life, as Apple would have more internal space available for the battery. Or maybe Apple will add components to improve cooling, though I’m just speculating here.

I’ve resisted the Pro Max size for years, finding it too large for my needs. But then something happened in the past year. I found myself wanting a larger screen. I’m currently using the iPhone 14 Pro, and the display sometimes feels small. The Pro Max’s bulk and weight stopped me from ever getting one so far.

A few months ago, the iPhone 15 series delivered the titanium frames. And I have to say the Pro and Pro Max feel a lot lighter. I could see myself getting the larger model in the future.

Luckily, I don’t plan to upgrade until at least next fall. And I won’t get a new iPhone before I get a chance to try them all. As of right now, I plan to see how the 6.3-inch iPhone 16 Pro feels and maybe postpone getting the Pro Max for at least another couple of years.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.