Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max adds periscope cameras to compete with Android.

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max adds periscope cameras to compete with Android.

The Rise of Periscope Cameras in Flagship Phones

iphone 15 pro max

Cameras have become the crowning jewel of smartphones in recent years. Manufacturers are constantly pushing the boundaries of what these tiny lenses can do, and Apple is no exception. At their recent iPhone 15 launch event, Apple introduced their latest innovation – the tetraprism-based periscope camera.

If you’re not familiar with periscope cameras, let us enlighten you. These cleverly engineered lenses allow smartphone users to capture high-quality photos of distant subjects, such as landscapes or performers on stage. By utilizing a bulky telephoto lens and packing it into a compact smartphone body, periscope cameras aim to replicate the framing flexibility of traditional cameras’ zoom lenses.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is the latest device to feature this cutting-edge camera technology. With a 5x telephoto camera, it promises to enhance photography for those willing to shell out $1,199 for this flagship smartphone. Apple’s use of the tetraprism reflects light four times inside the camera, allowing for a longer light path necessary for telephoto lenses without adding bulk.

Apple’s decision to introduce periscope cameras in their iPhones stems from two primary reasons. Firstly, they want to provide customers with better photography options. Secondly, they aim to catch up with the competition. While the iPhone 14 Pro already featured a 3x telephoto lens, it fell short of the 5x camera found in Google’s Pixel 7 Pro and the 10x camera in Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Ultra. Apple recognized that telephoto photography was a competitive weak point for them and took action to address it.

So, how does a periscope camera work exactly? The challenge with telephoto cameras lies in their physically longer lens assemblies. Periscope cameras, also known as folded cameras, overcome this obstacle by building much of the length horizontally inside the phone body. Behind the lens, a prism or mirror redirects light at a 90-degree angle. This innovative design allows for a more compact form factor while maintaining the desired zoom capabilities. Apple’s tetraprism approach takes it a step further by reflecting light four times, enabling it to align the image sensor with the other camera sensors.

It’s important to note that periscope cameras do have their limitations. While they offer improved zoom capabilities, they cannot match the versatility and image quality of traditional cameras with dedicated telephoto lenses. Additionally, periscope cameras often feature relatively small image sensors, which can affect low-light performance and image stabilization. Nevertheless, advancements are being made, and it will be interesting to see how the new 5x camera on the iPhone 15 Pro Max compares to its rivals in terms of image quality.

To address the limitations of periscope cameras, smartphone manufacturers are adopting different approaches. Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Ultra combines a periscope lens with a conventional 3x camera, offering users additional flexibility. Google’s higher-end Pixel phones utilize high-resolution image sensors to achieve 2x modes without any digital manipulation. Sony’s Xperia 1 V takes an unconventional approach, offering continuous zoom from 3.5x to 5.2x.

With each new flagship smartphone release, the gap between traditional cameras and smartphone cameras narrows. Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro models, with their combination of periscope cameras and larger main camera sensors, allow users to shoot in various modes and bring smartphones closer to the zoom flexibility of traditional cameras.

In the ever-evolving world of smartphone photography, periscope cameras are at the forefront of innovation. As technology continues to advance, we can only imagine the incredible possibilities that lie ahead for capturing breathtaking moments with our smartphones.