Kuo: 2023 iPhones to Feature 'Periscopic' Telephoto Lens

Apple's iPhones will adopt a "periscopic telephoto lens" in 2023, according to a research note shared this evening by well-respected TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

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Kuo did not elaborate, but we've heard several prior rumors about Apple's work on a periscope lens, which would allow for significant improvements in optical zoom capabilities. Kuo previously said that he expected Apple to adopt a periscope lens in 2022 iPhone models, but it appears he now believes that won't happen until 2023.

Existing smartphones have already adopted periscope lens technology. Huawei's P30 Pro allows for 5x optical zoom, and an ‌iPhone‌ with a periscope lens could have similar capabilities. Current iPhones max out at 2.5x optical zoom and 12x digital zoom, but better zoom capabilities could let Apple's iPhones compete with smartphones that have focused on zoom functionality. Samsung's latest smartphones, for example, have a 100x zoom feature that Apple 's current iPhones can't match.

In addition to the prediction about periscopic lens technology coming in 2023, Kuo shared details on both the 2021 and 2022 iPhones.

For the 2021 iPhones, Kuo believes that Apple will adopt a new Face ID transmitter that's made from a plastic material instead of glass, which is now possible thanks to improved coating technologies. It's not clear if this will have end-user benefits for ‌iPhone‌ owners or if it will simply mean a reduction in production cost for Apple.

In the past, it was widely believed that the reason the Tx lens had to adopt glass material was to avoid distortion due to the heat generated by VCSEL operation. Our latest survey indicates that the Face ID TX lens for the new 2H21 iPhone will be made of plastic instead of glass, thanks to improved coating technologies and that the Tx plastic lens suppliers are Largan and Genius, with Largan being the primary beneficiary of this material change due to its higher supply share.

High-end iPhones releasing in 2021 will also feature an upgraded ultra wide lens, with Apple upgrading from a 5-element lens to a 6-element lens, which Kuo says is made possible through "design and production advantages."

Kuo said that rear-facing camera improvements coming to high-end iPhones in 2022 will focus on the telephoto lens, with Apple upgrading from a 6-element lens to a 7-element lens for the iPhone 14.

‌iPhone‌ models coming in 2022 are also expected to adopt a new "unibody lens design," which Kuo says Apple will use to reduce the size of the front camera module.

To reduce the front camera module's size, we predict that the new iPhone will adopt a unibody lens design in 2H22 at the earliest. This design requires the lens and VCM [voice coil motor] to be assembled before shipping to CCM. Since Largan will start shipping iPhone VCM for new iPhones in 2H21, we believe that if Apple adopts the unibody lens design in the future, Largan, a new VCM supplier, can integrate lens design production advantages and benefit from this new trend.

Kuo previously said that he believes 2022 ‌iPhone‌ models will transition from a notch to a hole punch-style display that some Android smartphones have previously adopted. Apple is expected to use this design for high-end iPhones coming in 2022, but if production yields are high enough, all 2022 iPhones could use the same hole punch design.

Related Roundup: iPhone 13
Related Forum: iPhone

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Top Rated Comments

kitt9000 Avatar
42 months ago
I was on the fence on whether to upgrade to the 2023 iPhone from my yet to be purchased 2022 iphone, but this feature would seal the deal! ???
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
goobot Avatar
42 months ago

I am one of those 90% plus people who either use the camera for snaps or zoom with my feet. In the past 20 years I have never been in a situation where mobile phone zoom would be able to solve a distance problem. There is a reason good zoom lenses for real digital camera's are big, it's not to show of, it's basic physics. So giving up space for a feature that will be getting okay results at best is a loss in my opinion. I would rather have a higher quality wide angle camera if you ask me.
I actually feel the opposite, I could care less about the ultrawide but love the zoom. Looking forward to improved zoom.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheYayAreaLiving ?️ Avatar
42 months ago
This is great stuff!!! Cannot wait!!!

Keep the reports coming Mr. Kuo. Also, waiting for the notch-less iPhone.



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Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
X5-599 Avatar
42 months ago
Come on Apple, just develop a DSLR that runs on iOS already, It's pretty obvious you don't want to build phones anymore.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Burebista Avatar
42 months ago

I am one of those 90% plus people who either use the camera for snaps or zoom with my feet. In the past 20 years I have never been in a situation where mobile phone zoom would be able to solve a distance problem. There is a reason good zoom lenses for real digital camera's are big, it's not to show of, it's basic physics. So giving up space for a feature that will be getting okay results at best is a loss in my opinion. I would rather have a higher quality wide angle camera if you ask me.
I don't know what are you talking about, and especially how you determined being in the "90% plus". There's a great number of scenarios where a good optical zoom comes in handy because you simply physically can't zoom in with your feet. Be it landscape photography, street scenes, architectural details, wildlife - you name it. And yes, modern smartphone cameras are capable enough for all of those scenarios. Computational photography made it possible.

Periscope telephoto lens allows for 5-10x optical zoom that is always in your pocket, that is awesome tech. And personally, it's upsetting Apple is like 4 years behind with adopting it
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JPack Avatar
42 months ago
Apple's delay of periscope seems to be related to cost rather than technical barriers. The P30 and P40 Pro show night mode and periscope lenses already work well.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)