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Why the iPhone 16 Pro’s periscope camera rumor makes me worry

Published May 16th, 2023 6:50AM EDT
iPhone 14 Pro in front of a Mac Studio
Image: Jonathan Geller, BGR

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The iPhone 15 isn’t even out, and we already have various iPhone 16 rumors. The latest leak comes from well-known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who usually provides accurate details about Apple’s unreleased devices. According to him, the iPhone 16 Pro will get a periscope zoom camera, a feature exclusive to the iPhone 15 Pro Max this year.

The telephoto upgrade seems like terrific news, especially if you use zoom on the iPhone and could benefit from improved optical zoom that a periscope lens could offer. But there’s also a huge drawback to this, at least for me. Apple might increase the size of the iPhone 16 Pro to make room for that telephoto lens.

Kuo dropped the news on Medium in a post assessing the impact of Apple’s camera orders on the supply change. That’s where he noted that the iPhone 16 Pro will be slightly larger than the iPhone 15 Pro:

The display size of the iPhone 16 Pro will be slightly larger than the iPhone 14/15 Pro’s 6.1 “, allowing the 16 Pro to equip with a periscope camera thanks to larger internal space. It’s expected that iPhone 16 Pro Max and Pro will have periscopes (vs. only Pro Max among the 15 series). Cowell will likely be the [Compact Camera Module (CCM)] supplier for the iPhone 16 periscope in 2024.

Recent rumors said the iPhone 16 Pro and 16 Pro Max will have 6.3-inch and 6.9-inch screens, respectively. At the time, I thought the 0.2-inch increase would result from Apple’s further shrinking the bezels.

But Kuo’s update above implies the whole iPhone 16 Pro is getting slightly larger. And Apple isn’t doing it for the sake of enlarging the screen. But to increase internal space for the periscope camera.

We already know from a more distant report that LG developed smaller periscope lenses for mobile phones. I speculated that Apple would use these components in iPhones because they’re compact. That’s because Apple wants to optimize internal space use to offer the best possible battery capacity.

There’s another reason to increase the overall size of iPhone 16 Pro and 16 Pro Max phones. Apple will eventually drop the physical buttons, and the solid-state replacements will need new Taptic Engines. These will take up space inside the phone. And, again, Apple needs the iPhone to offer great battery life.

That said, I’m not a big fan of the iPhone increasing in size. The iPhone 14 Pro is already too big and heavy for my taste. You get used to it, sure. But I was close to getting an iPhone 13 mini before the iPhone 14 launch because of its size.

I’m not inclined to upgrade to iPhone 15 this year. And I’ve already said that iPhone has reached a point where I don’t necessarily feel the need to go Pro. Therefore, I could always opt for the iPhone 16 should I want a new iPhone in 2024. The handset would still feature a 6.1-inch screen.

Watching Apple all those years, I learned that Apple tries to bring as many Pro features to regular models in the years after those features are introduced. I’d expect the entire iPhone lineup to come in 6.3-inch and 6.9-inch sizes, starting with iPhone 17 or later.

This is all speculation, based on a rumor detailing unconfirmed Apple plans for a distant iPhone. Apple has plenty of time to figure out ways to make any iPhone size increases less noticeable.

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.