According to a rumor by the always well-informed analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple will in future place even more emphasis on the zoom function on its iPhones. If the iPhone 11 Pro used for the first time a triple camera system with a 2x zoom, which was extrapolated to a factor of 4 by combining the images of the different lenses via computational imaging (digitally a 10x zoom with a significant loss of image quality is possible), the optical zoom is to be increased even further from 2022 onwards by a special periscope lens.
Triple camera system of the iPhone 11 Pro Max
The periscope telephoto lens was introduced in 2019 in the Huaweis P30 Pro - currently, smartphones use a periscope lens to achieve an optical 5x zoom, but 10x models are already being developed - it is not yet clear which zoom level Apple will choose. Periscope lenses use a simple trick to circumvent the fact that a telephoto lens has to have a high focal length so that there is enough distance between the different lenses arranged one behind the other which is necessary for a high zoom, in order to enlarge the image more and more.
Normal beside periscope lens in a smartphone
The principle corresponds - following the name - to the periscopes used for example in submarines: With periscope lenses (also called periscope zoom), the focal length (i.e. the distance of the light) is divided by a mirror into two segments which are arranged at 90° to each other, i.e. the zoom lens can cover the longest part of this distance horizontally in the housing of the smartphone before it hits the image sensor mounted on the side, thus avoiding an unattractive lens protruding from the otherwise thin housing. The disadvantage is the space required for the periscope lens to be able to cover the beam path in the housing, for which other components sometimes have to be sacrificed in view of the thin housing and lack of space of modern highly integrated smartphones.
However, those who are looking forward to an iPhone with Super Zoom will have to be patient, because Apple will not introduce models with periscope zoom until the year after next at the earliest.