Apple Explains Why iPhone 15 Pro Max is Limited to 5x Optical Zoom

In an interview with Numerama's Nicolas Lellouche, Apple's VP of camera software engineering Jon McCormack explained why the iPhone 15 Pro Max's tetraprism lens system is limited to 5x optical zoom, instead of 10x like on Samsung's Galaxy S23 Ultra. The interview is in French, so quotes below are computer translated.

iPhone 15 Pro Max 5x Optical Zoom Limit Feature 1
Apple says the Telephoto lens on the iPhone 15 Pro Max features the company's most advanced camera stabilization system yet, with a combination of optical image stabilization and an autofocus 3D sensor-shift module. McCormack said the iPhone's 5x zoom lens can be stabilized "incredibly well" compared to a 10x lens.

"The 5x zoom is something that we can stabilize incredibly well," McCormack said in the interview. "If you look at the 10x zoom, unless you have the steadiest hands in the world or a tripod, it's really difficult to use."

Apple's senior director of iPhone product marketing Maxime Veron, who was also interviewed, added that the iPhone 15 Pro Max's 5x lens opens at ƒ/2.8, allowing for "excellent light management." By comparison, the Galaxy S23 Ultra's 10x lens has a ƒ/4.9 aperture. A lower aperture allows for more light to be captured by the camera's sensor, which can be especially beneficial for Night mode photos.

5x optical zoom is exclusive to the iPhone 15 Pro Max, with the iPhone 15 Pro remaining limited to 3x optical zoom. It has been rumored that Apple plans to expand the tetraprism lens system to both iPhone 16 Pro models next year.

McCormack and Veron discuss the latest camera innovations on all iPhone 15 models in more detail in the Numerama interview. The devices launch Friday.

Related Roundup: iPhone 15 Pro

Popular Stories

iOS 18 Siri Integrated Feature

Report: These 10 New AI Features Are Coming in iOS 18

Sunday May 26, 2024 12:57 pm PDT by
iOS 18 and macOS 15 will offer an array of new AI features such as auto-generated emojis, suggested replies to emails and messages, and more, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reports. A significant portion of Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is expected to focus on AI features. Writing his latest "Power On" newsletter, Gurman explained that Apple's AI strategy emphasizes providing...
airpods pro 2 pink

Apple Releases New AirPods Pro 2 Firmware

Tuesday May 28, 2024 11:46 am PDT by
Apple today released new firmware update for both the Lightning and USB-C versions of the AirPods Pro 2. The new firmware is version 6F7, up from the 6B34 firmware released in November. Apple does not provide details on what features might be included in the refreshed firmware beyond "bug fixes and other improvements," so it is unclear what's new in the update. Apple does not give...
new best buy blue

Best Buy's Memorial Day Sale Has Record Low Prices on iPads, MacBooks, and Much More

Friday May 24, 2024 7:12 am PDT by
Best Buy today kicked off its Memorial Day weekend sale, and it has some of the best prices we've tracked in weeks on iPads and MacBooks. Specifically, you'll find record low prices on the 5th generation iPad Air, iPad mini 6, M2 MacBook Air, and M3 MacBook Pro. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Best Buy. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment,...
iOS 18 WWDC 24 Feature 2

Gurman: iOS 18 Will Allow Users to Recolor App Icons and Place Them Anywhere

Sunday May 26, 2024 12:22 pm PDT by
Apple's iOS 18 update will introduce new features for further customizing the iPhone's home screen, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. In the latest edition of his "Power On" newsletter, Gurman claimed that Apple will allow users to change the color of app icons in iOS 18. For example, "you can make all your social icons blue or finance-related ones green." This kind of home screen...
iPad Pro Landscape Apple Logo Feature

Apple Says Future iPads Could Feature Landscape Apple Logo

Monday May 27, 2024 6:31 am PDT by
French website Numerama interviewed three senior Apple employees about the new iPad Pro models that launched earlier this month. While the discussion did not reveal many new details, it did mention one potential change for future iPads. While the Apple logo on the back of iPads is positioned so that it appears upright in vertical orientation, the devices are often used in landscape...

Top Rated Comments

alexandr Avatar
9 months ago
I would be more curious to find out why 5x zoom is limited to the iPhone 15 Pro Max :D
Score: 79 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Bigkool2inSC Avatar
9 months ago
he left out......."and.. we have to save something for the 16 Pro Max.. so there's that.."
Score: 47 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Dulcimer Avatar
9 months ago
Reminder that the term “optical zoom” is incorrect as the iPhone does not actually zoom in.

It has a 5x prime lens that it switches to when necessary. All the “zoom” levels between the 3 prime lenses are just cropping of the sensor area from one of the cameras. This means that trying to take, for instance, a 3x photo on an iPhone 15 Pro Max will result in worse image quality than on an iPhone 15 Pro since it has to use smaller sensor area of main 1x camera to take the picture.
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MathersMahmood Avatar
9 months ago
Don’t find it difficult on my S23 Ultra at all. That’s weird.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Two Appleseeds Avatar
9 months ago
Proceeds to implement 10x zoom on the 17 Ultra
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Dave245 Avatar
9 months ago
Sorry but even as an Apple fan, I have to call BS on that. The 10x optical zoom is perfectly usable on the S23 Ultra I have used it myself. It’s only when going to the 100X that it can be very unstable and you simply tap the stabilisation window.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)