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iPhone 16 with a slim camera similar to the iPhone X? Color me interested

Published Feb 7th, 2024 6:50AM EST
iPhone 15 Pro Max In Hand
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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Apple is still toying with the iPhone 16 design, according to a new report that focuses on the handset’s rear camera design. I often said that I don’t care what the camera bump looks, as I’ll hardly pay attention to it when using the iPhone. I don’t care about the size of the camera bump and how the iPhone doesn’t sit flat on a desk because of it. 

Yes, the camera modules are ugly and bumpy. They also produce terrific results, so we’ll keep getting them. But the iPhone 16 might bring a change to the rear camera design, at least on the regular and 16 Plus models. 

Apple is leaning towards a vertical camera setup like the iPhone X, for obvious reasons: Vision Pro spatial videos. But, in the process, Apple might deliver a smaller camera module. And I happen to like it.

The newest iPhone 16 camera leak comes from MacRumors, who brought us plenty of details about the iPhone 16 and 16 Pro designs. Back in December, the blog gave us the following iPhone 16 mockups, all highlighting Apple’s ideas for the iPhone 16 rear camera. 

iPhone 16 early prototypes: Mid-December leak.
iPhone 16 early prototypes: Mid-December leak. Image source: MacRumors

As you can see, the main theme concerns the camera placement. The wide and ultrawide lenses get a vertical arrangement, a first since the iPhone 12. Apple used a diagonal position for the two cameras, starting with the iPhone 13. It did it for practical reasons, to make room in that camera module for the sensor-shift optical image stabilization system.

Now that the Vision Pro spatial computer exists, Apple wants iPhone owners to capture spatial videos similar to the ones you can record with the headset itself. Currently, only the iPhone 15 Pro models support spatial videos. The camera arrangement on the back is probably a reason why. 

Apple will correct that with the iPhone 16 series, as all four handsets should handle spatial videos. That’s where the iPhone X-like camera design comes into play. Back to the MacRumors report, we have new schematics showing Apple’s design ideas. The iPhone 16 camera module looks different and much better than in previous schematics. 

iPhone 16 prototype leak: Early February.
iPhone 16 prototype leak: Early February. Image source: MacRumors

Apple is still going for the vertical camera setup, but the camera module is much slimmer and restricted to the cameras. The flash wouldn’t be part of the camera module under this design idea. 

As a former iPhone X user and a potential iPhone 16/Plus buyer, I prefer these early February design leak to the iPhone 16 design leak from mid-December. Ultimately, I won’t care about the rear camera design, no matter how ugly or beautiful it might be. 

MacRumors also notes that the iPhone 16 models should feature Action and Capture buttons like the iPhone 16 Pro versions. The newest prototypes pack a smaller non-capacitive Action button similar to the iPhone 15 Pro. Apple wanted a capacitive button on the iPhone 16, the report notes. But it abandoned the idea. 

The Capture button s pressure-sensitive, however, sitting flush with the frame of the device. A different report this week claimed that the iPhone 16’s Capture button will behave like DSLR cameras. Press halfway, and the button locks focus or exposure. Press it in full, and you’ll capture the photo. 

iPhone 16 prototype leak: Early February.
iPhone 16 prototype leak: Early February. Image source: MacRumors

That said, nothing can be confirmed at this time. Apple has plenty of time until it needs to start manufacturing the iPhone 16 models. Therefore, it can still make changes to current prototypes. Manufacturing typically begins in the months preceding the iPhone’s usual mid-September launch event. 

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.

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