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iPhone 13 Pro cameras may take even sharper ultra-wide photos than iPhone 12 Pro

iPhone 12 Pro Max review
(Image credit: TechRadar)

The iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max may shoot sharper photos and videos with several camera upgrades, according to new rumors – but the improvements may not come to the lower-end iPhone 13 handsets.

The iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max cameras will reportedly improve their ultra-wide cameras by adding sensor-shift optical image stabilization (OIS) and autofocus, sources told Digitimes

The iPhone 12 Pro Max was the first iPhone to pair its main camera with sensor-shift OIS, which shifts the sensor instead of the lens, resulting in sharper photos, as MacRumors points out. It’s unclear if the same upgrade will be made to the main camera on the iPhone 13 Pro, but augmenting the 13 Pro and Pro Max’s ultra-wide cameras with sensor-shift OIS should result in sharper photos when using that lens.

Let’s review all the iPhone 13 camera rumors, shall we?

You’ve probably read several stories about better iPhone 13 cameras, but here’s a review in case they sounded so incremental and/or technical that you can’t remember.

There are rumors that apply to all iPhone 13 models, like the one suggesting the front-facing sensor suite will combine the infrared camera and dot projector into a single module, resulting in a smaller notch. Two different reports suggest the ultra-wide cameras will improve from the f/2.4 apertures in the iPhone 12 range to f/1.8 in the iPhone 13 handsets, allowing better low-light performance – though one rumor suggests it’s coming to all four 2021 phones, and the other says it’s just headed to the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max.

Some of the upgrades we’ve heard are only coming to the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max models. These include the ultra-wide rumor above, as well as those suggesting their main lenses will be increased in size. Another suggests the iPhone 13 Pro will get a better telephoto camera, improving its predecessor’s f/2.0, 52mm focal length equivalent shooter by swapping it for the f/2.2, 65mm focal length equivalent camera that came in the iPhone 12 Pro Max. In simpler terms: expanding the optical zoom from 2x to 2.5x.

Other rumors suggest perks presently in the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max are coming to the lower-end iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini. Two rumors suggest LiDar will be added to the more affordable phones, as well as expanding sensor-shift OIS to cameras (presumably just the main camera) in all four iPhone 13 models.

And there are the pie-in-the-sky rumors, like the one that came out in May 2020 (before the iPhone 12 came out) claiming the iPhone 13 will pack a 64MP main lens, 40MP telephoto with 3x-5x optical zoom and 15x-20x digital zoom, a 40MP ultra-wide lens, and even a 64MP anamorphic lens to shoot in 2.1:1 aspect ratio. Compare that to the iPhone 12, which packed a 12MP main and 12MP ultra-wide, no telephoto, and certainly no anamorphic lens. Yeah.

These are the biggest rumors, but as you can see, they’re suggesting very incremental improvements that could result in better photos. Even if they’re implemented, they would likely be tough for consumers to see the difference – but if we get enough upgrades in the iPhone 13, its photo capabilities might just be better all around.

David Lumb

David J Lumb is Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, covering phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made.