iPhone 15 Pro Max: Will the new camera put an end to unrealistic photos on the iPhone, leaving Samsung in the dust?

iPhone 15 Pro Max: Will the new camera put an end to unrealistic photos on the iPhone, leaving Samsung in the dust?

By now, you’ve probably come across at least one piece of news about the rumored periscope zoom camera that Apple is (supposedly) preparing for the new iPhone. After debuting on Android in 2019 via the Huawei P30 Pro, the modern version of the periscope zoom lens is expected to finally make its way to the iPhone 15 Pro Max and possibly the smaller iPhone 15 Pro. While we don’t know exactly how much more capable the new periscope shooter will be than the 3x zoom lens on the iPhone 14 Pro, there seems to be a surprising or even “shocking” (by Apple standards) development related to the main, more important camera on the iPhone 15 Pro Max (and the iPhone 15 Pro, we hope).

Believe it or not (and I certainly find it hard to believe), an authoritative Ice Universe tipster is now telling us that The iPhone 15 Pro Max will use a sensor with “characteristics…close to 1 inch – that’s for sure!”. Ice is a smartphone camera fanatic who does his own research, which may lend some extra credence to this surprising leak.

Still, there are a few rocks surrounding the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s “close to 1-inch” camera that I can (at least) try to shuffle, if not turn. Apparently, we’re talking about an unreleased Sony sensor that was once supposed to bless Sony’s own Xperia Pro-II – a phone that was never released.

And apparently this sensor is about 2x the price of the 50MP IMX989 in Xiaomi 13 Ultra, which is a “full” 1-inch sensor. And apparently (according to an old report) Apple may finally be addressing some of the iPhone’s biggest issues with questionable image processing.

And apparently, I’ll try to sort through all the random information to give you an idea of ​​what could be on the iPhone 15 Pro Max and/or iPhone 16 Ultra. If the rumors are true.

Close to 1-inch primary camera (maybe) in iPhone 15 Pro Max: Is Apple finally ready to take on Android on a hardware level?

So where did this thing come from “close to 1 inch vs 1 inch”? This is probably due to Sony being the first company to develop a 1-inch sensor for a modern phone, and the second (after Sharp) to use it in a phone you can buy – the Sony Xperia Pro -I. The thing is that this very phone made the news because of a modified version of the 20MP 1-inch sensor in the Sony RX100 VII compact camera, which only uses about 90% of the actual sensor area. This may explain why Ice Universe claims the iPhone 15 Pro Max has “close to” a 1-inch main camera sensor, or 1/1.14 to be specific. If this is true (note the “if”), it means that Apple will use (you guessed it…) around 90% of the sensor area, identical to what Sony did with the Xperia Pro-I. Of course, not using full power doesn’t sound like Apple, so I remain cautiously optimistic.

At this point, there are a few possible outcomes to the whole iPhone 15 Pro Max primary camera situation:

  • Apple will indeed use about 90% of the 1-inch sensor, namely the IMX 903, which would make the main camera on the iPhone 15 Pro Max 1/1.14-inch, meaning a “full 1-inch sensor” could be used. in the rumored iPhone 16 Ultra next year, which will give Apple time to optimize the sensor for maximum performance, but also differentiate the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro Max (the former is now expected to get the same 48MP camera as the iPhone 14 Pro)

  • The rumors are false and Apple will be conservative by giving the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max the same 1/1.28 48MP sensor as the iPhone 14 Pro

  • The “almost 1-inch” IMX 903 camera is indeed coming to the iPhone, but next year’s iPhone 16 (Ultra) – very good for the first “Ultra” iPhone (if this one is anything)

1-inch camera sensors are now the norm for premium Android flagships, but that’s not (the only) thing Apple needs to fix the iPhone camera

Obviously, the large image sensors and especially the 1-inch IMX 989 (co-developed Sony and Xiaomi) is all the rage in the Android world right now. Recent premium flagships from Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo use the same 1-inch camera, while others like the Honor Magic 5 Pro are pretty close at 1/1.12 inches.

Actually even Google is now expected to join the big club of image sensors with the 1/1.12-inch Samsung GN2 – although quite large in area, it’s the same camera used in the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra from 2021. If everything works out, The Pixel 8 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max could end up using nearly identically sized main camera sensors — one made Samsung and the other is Sony.

The size of Apple’s main camera sensors is steadily increasing; A 1-inch sensor is a logical step for 2023/2024

  • iPhone 15 Pro: 48MP, IMX903, 1/1.14-inch (exclusive to iPhone 15 Pro Max?)
  • iPhone 14 Pro: 48 MP, IMX803, 1/1.28 inch
  • iPhone 13 Pro: 12 MP, IMX703, 1/1.63 inch
  • iPhone 12 Pro: 12 MP, IMX603, 1/1.78 inch
  • iPhone 11 Pro: 12 MP, IMX503, 1/2.55 inch

As you can see, contrary to conventional wisdom and Cupertino’s “slow innovation” strategy, Apple also frequently updates the main image sensors on the iPhone Pro. Compared to the iPhone 11 Pro, the main camera used in the iPhone 14 Pro has a much larger sensor.

But will this “almost 1-inch camera sensor” allegedly coming to the iPhone 15 Pro Max change Apple’s ever-changing approach to photography, or will it be a regular hardware upgrade?

Fortunately, there were rumors/leaks a few months ago that Sony’s new sensor(s) on the iPhone 15 Pro should help Apple’s flagship achieve better image processing and HDR, which (to me) is a much-needed upgrade .

As someone who looks at countless camera samples and compares them (all the time), I can confidently say that the current state of iPhone imaging (photos and videos) is in dire need of improvement to bring it up to par with the likes of the Xiaomi 13 Ultra, who now takes pictures and videos like “real camera”.

With or without a 1-inch sensor, the iPhone 15 Pro Max will need a major overhaul to compete with the best of the best (Xiaomi 13 Ultra)

Again, Apple’s next primary camera will be specially designed by Sony (for Apple) and will remain exclusive to the new iPhone. Interestingly, if the rumors are true, the iPhone 15 Pro Max will be released with The Galaxy S23 Ultra (1/1.3) lags far behind when it comes to the size of the main camera’s sensor, which is unusual. Even more unusual is that the alleged 1/1.14 main camera sensor that is expected to appear in the new iPhone will only be around 10% smaller than the IMX 989 used in the Xiaomi 13 Ultra (probably best camera phone at the moment).

Naturally, we shouldn’t forget that the other major camera upgrade that the iPhone 15 Pro/Max is expected to feature is a zoom camera with a larger optical range. Current rumors point to a 5-6x optical zoom lens, and if that and the whole “almost 1-inch camera sensor” thing pans out, the iPhone 15 Pro/Max will be one of Apple’s biggest camera upgrades in recent history .

Of course, I won’t tire of repeating (although I kind of do) that the shortcomings of Apple’s cameras are not down to “bad hardware” but rather outdated image processing that delivers photos and videos that only look good on your Instagram feed, but quickly falls apart compared to a real camera phone.

So, whether or not we get a 1-inch “close to 1-inch” camera and improved optical zoom on the iPhone 15 Pro/Max, Apple needs to put more effort into challenging the Galaxy S23 Ultra and Xiaomi 13 Pro. Not to mention winning.

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