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iPhone 13 could have a periscope camera for better zoom than the iPhone 12

iPhone 12 Pro Max
The iPhone 12 Pro Max (above) has a great camera with limited zoom (Image credit: TechRadar)

The iPhone 12 range has excellent cameras, but one area where they lag behind some of the competition is in their zoom capabilities, with even the iPhone 12 Pro Max only offering 2.5x optical zoom. However, this looks to be something Apple plans to address with a future iPhone.

That’s according to ETNews (a South Korean tech news site), which claims that “industry officials who are familiar with a situation related to development of iPhone cameras” have said Apple is trying to find folded camera suppliers for a future iPhone.

A folded camera is more commonly known as a periscope camera, as it refracts light in a similar way to a periscope, and allows for a greater optical zoom range than a conventional telephoto camera, without taking up more space. That means Apple could increase the zoom range of a future iPhone camera without making the phone or camera bump any thicker.

Zooming in on Samsung

It’s a feature we’ve already seen in a number of phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, which offers 5x optical zoom and 50x digital zoom.

Indeed, Samsung is apparently one of only a small number of companies capable of building these cameras for phones, and the ETNews report claims that Samsung also has key patents, which Apple needs access to in order to easily design a folded camera for an iPhone.

As such, Apple may partner with Samsung for these cameras, but the report goes on to say that “some believe” Samsung won’t cooperate with Apple, in order to ensure its phones – such as the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S21 – remain differentiated from the iPhone range.

We’d take all of this with a pinch of salt of course, but it makes sense that Apple would want to improve the cameras on its phones – and also that it might struggle to do so if it needs access to a key Samsung technology.

As for when we might see a periscope camera on an iPhone, the report doesn’t say. It’s certainly possible that the iPhone 13 could have one, but previously Ming-Chi Kuo (an analyst with a good track record for Apple leaks and predictions) said - via MacRumors - that Apple had begun lining up periscope lens suppliers for a 2022 iPhone.

So we might be waiting for the iPhone 14 before there’s periscope zoom on an iPhone.

Via Phone Arena

James Rogerson
James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps.