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The smaller iPhone 16 Pro might get Apple’s new ‘tetraprism’ zoom lens

The smaller iPhone 16 Pro might get Apple’s new ‘tetraprism’ zoom lens


The improved zoom lens is currently a Pro Max-exclusive feature, but it might come down to the iPhone 16 Pro next year.

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Apple iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max in white titanium.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max and iPhone 15 Pro.
Image: The Verge

Next year’s Pro iPhones are both “expected” to have the “tetraprism” zoom lens Apple is using for the 5x telephoto camera in the iPhone 15 Pro Max, according to a new post from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. That tetraprism optical system, which is intended to replicate a 120mm lens of a full-frame camera, is exclusive to the iPhone 15 Pro Max, so if it comes to the smaller iPhone Pro next year (which I’m guessing will be called the iPhone 16 Pro), both the Pro and Pro Max might be on closer footing.

Here’s how the tetraprism system works, as described by Apple’s Misha Scepanovic during Tuesday’s “Wonderlust” event:

120-millimeter lenses are typically long, so instead we created an innovative tetraprism design, built right into iPhone. The light rays are reflected four times through the glass structure, allowing the light to travel for longer in a much smaller design. This creates enough separation between the lens and the sensor to enable the longer focal length.

An image from Apple’s “Wonderlust” event showing off the tetraprism zoom lens.
Image: Apple

The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro had the same camera systems, so it’s a little disappointing that Apple put a better zoom lens on the iPhone 15 Pro Max this year. I’m hoping that with the iPhone 16 Pro, Apple returns to feature parity with its Pro iPhone cameras — but given that the iPhone 15 Pro Max now starts at a higher price, I have a hunch Apple might continue to find ways to separate the Pro from the Pro Max. (That might give it all the more reason to call the Pro Max an “Ultra” phone, as it’s rumored to do.)