Will this $4 part help the iPhone 15 Pro Max catch up to the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra?

iPhone 14 Pro and Galaxy S23 Ultra screen side down on a slatted wooden side table
(Image credit: Laptop Mag/Sean Riley)

The iPhone 15 rumor season is in full swing and today another leak surfaced surrounding one of the cameras in the iPhone 15 Pro Max, sorry iPhone 15 Pro hopefuls, this is a Pro Max exclusive.

The oft-reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is the source for today's Medium note, which centers around the periscope zoom lens that Kuo indicates will only be coming to the iPhone 15 Pro Max, Pro buyers will have to wait until the iPhone 16 Pro in 2024 (via MacRumors).

We've heard much of this before, rumors of a periscope zoom lens in the iPhone date back to 2019, but it seems like we are finally getting it this year. What is new is the revelation from Kuo that the periscope camera lens for the 15 Pro Max will all come from Largan Precision and that the per unit cost to Apple is around $4, which is below the $4.50-$5+ that these cameras command in the market.

This is likely a question of Apple's outstanding bargaining when it comes to components and production costs and not any sort of comment on the quality of the part, Largan is one of the largest suppliers of smartphone camera components globally.

iPhone 14 Pro Max

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Is the iPhone 15 Pro Max periscope zoom lens going to be worth it?

Worth the wait or worth the price? Take your pick. Assuming Kuo is correct and the iPhone 15 Pro Max features the periscope zoom lens it will arrive roughly 3.5 years after Samsung debuted its Space Zoom lens in the Galaxy S20 Ultra. 

While Samsung has come under fire again recently over questions of whether the Galaxy S23 Ultra moonshot photos are real, something which it officially refuted, there's no denying that the Galaxy S23 Ultra offers a vastly superior zoom lens to that of the iPhone. 

Not everyone thinks that's important, but I've covered why you need a telephoto lens on a phone previously and if you are interested you should take a look at the samples in that article to see the difference a true telephoto lens makes. Here's one example below just to give you a general idea. 

When I switch to the iPhone full-time I do find myself missing the reach I have with flagship phones from Samsung or Google, whether that's getting a shot of wildlife or a photo or video of my kids playing sports and zooming in close for a clear shot of them rather than just a blurry mess or a shot of half the court or field they are playing on.

Now the price is harder to unpack as we've seen rumors that the iPhone 15 Pro models are getting a price bump, but nothing firm on how much more expensive they might be. Naturally those could also prove to be nothing more than rumors as there were plenty of leaks suggesting a price hike for the iPhone 14 last year as well.

For the time being my only real frustration with this rumor on that front is that it means that you'll once again need to buy the Pro Max to have the best camera experience and I prefer the pocketability of the standard Pro. So people like me will be facing both the Pro to Pro Max tax on top of a potential price hike for both models.

I'm excited to see what Apple can do with a periscope zoom lens, but I'm hoping this $4 camera doesn't cost me hundreds more.

Sean Riley

Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more.  Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.