Tetraprism camera coming to iPhone 16 Pro, claims supply chain report

in iPhone

The tetraprism camera lens that gives the iPhone 15 Pro Max greater zoom, will be added to the smaller iPhone 16 Pro in 2024, according to reports from Apple's supply chain.

iPhone 15 Pro Max
iPhone 15 Pro Max

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in September 2023 that the two Pro models in 2024 would get this. Then he doubled down on the claim in November 2023.

Kuo's information was based on reports from component supplier Largan, which was expecting to increase its sales to Apple in the coming year. Now The Elec reports the same for LG Innotek -- increased Apple orders in 2024, and specifically for the folded zoom actuators used in the tetraprism.

"Apple is planning to increase the number of models with folded zoom to two in the iPhone 16 series next year, so LG Innotek is expected to benefit," says the report, in translation. "Jahwa Electronics, which is in a competitive relationship with LG Innotek in this sector, may not be able to meet next year's benefits."

The folded zoom within the iPhone 15 Pro Max was reportedly exclusively provided by LG Innotek.

The Elec reports that multiple companies including LG Innotek, Jahwa, and Sony, and difficulties with production yields. The publication surmises that Apple has concluded LG Innotek is the best able to meet demand.

However, the publication also claims that Apple must increase the number of suppliers for tetraprism components, if it is not to face the same "production lags" as were reported with the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

The Elec has decent sources within Apple's supply chain, and has produced accurate reporting on their comings and goings. It is less accurate on deciphering the timetable of what Apple does with those parts and orders.

Read on AppleInsider


  • Reply 1 of 2
    One could hope that it resolves the "problem" that has been noted with the current 15 versus 15 Max models where the 3X zoom on the cheaper models is better quality than the 3X zoom on the more expensive ones.  And resolved without bringing the cheaper models down to the quality of the more expensive ones.  Alas, I think that will probably end up being the case.
    edited December 2023
  • Reply 2 of 2
    This isn't going to get resolved. Here's why:

    First, Apple talks about "zoom" lenses, but none of the lenses on an iPhone actually zooms. Meaning: there are no optical elements that move within the lenses to change their focal lengths. Each lens is a single fixed focal length that does not change. The ultrawide is 13mm. The wide or main lens is 24mm. And the telephoto lens is 77mm on the 15 Pro and 120mm on 15 Pro Max. 

    Second, the iPhone telephoto lenses aren't used or "activated" until you're at their native focal length or above: 77mm for the 15 Pro or 120mm for the 15 Pro Max. 

    So: how are "zooms" between the 24mm of the main lens and the focal lengths of the telphoto lens accomplished if the lenses themselves don't zoom? It's done via sensor cropping (good ole digital zoom) and computational photography. Put more bluntly: it's fake zoom. To be fair, this isn't the horror show it used to be. But it's still not the quality of true optical zoom. And the further you have to push fake zoom across a wider range, the more the quality of the image gets degraded. Here's how this plays out on the 15 Pro and the 15 Pro Max...

     On the 15 Pro Max the 24mm wide/main lens handles everything from 25mm to 119mm via sensor cropping and computational photography. So "fake zoom" is handling a big 5x range which inevitably degrades quality before the 120mm telephoto kicks in. 

     On the 15 Pro, the exact same 24mm wide/main lens only has to handle 25mm to 76mm via sensor cropping and computational photography, and then the 77mm telephoto kicks in. That's only a 3x range that doesn't push too hard on fake zoom. Plus, the 77mm lens then handles 78mm to 119mm (and up), which is only a 1.5x range for fake zoom to handle. 

     So, when you consider that 90% of all photos are shot in the 24-90mm range, It's clear that the 15 Pro will have a quality advantage with 2 fixed focal length lenses covering that range while the Pro Max only has one lens. However, if you happen to shoot a lot of sports or nature/wildlife, the longer reach of that 120mm telephoto of the Pro Max will probably serve your needs better, but that's a specific use case. 

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