I didn't know I could zoom iPhone panoramas; now I'm glad I tried – I think!

iPhone Panoramas
(Image credit: Future)

It has taken many years software cleverness to achieve – or at least approximate – what physical size managed with sheer dumb luck when it comes to photography. As a result we as photographers rarely give iPhones the credit they deserve, and I'm just as guilty, even though, of course, those software developers went a lot further, adding features like panoramic mode which is so standard on phones we barely think of it but used to require special hardware.

The upshot is that, while I frequently dip into my pocket for my iPhone 15 Pro Max to serve as a camera, I barely use the Panorama option. It doesn't help that the experience does require a little bit of a steady hand and patience on my part – much less than setting up a tripod, but I fear phones have eaten away at my diligence.

The other day, though, I found myself walking along England's north downs way, confronted with a nice scene I wanted to at least attempt to record and only my phone, so I reached down and – strangely for the first time as I followed the horizon – found myself wondering about the device's choice of crop. Could I zoom in and capture a panorama?

When you've got a thought in your head it seems to take even longer to pan around in the steady, even, and level way that your phone needs, but now I was conducting an experiment, so it was OK that the ever-cooler wind was whipping down the hills. That first panorama, of course, was the standard 1×, in which, you'll note, my phone is happy for me to do a full 360; you can even see the Inglis Memorial in the far right of the shot van though it was just behind me as I started. 

iPhone Panoramas

(Image credit: Future)

Then I moved onto 2×, in which I found the camera didn't feel I should turn anything like as far – about 180 degrees – which suited the shot just fine. The sun and the position of the dog-walker capped it off nicely.

Finally I plumped for the 5× that persuaded me I needed an iPhone 15 against my better judgement in the first place (I probably should have read the iPhone 15 Pro Max review). I feel like the software can't smooth all my panning imperfections at this zoom level, and this is as wide as it was prepared to go, but, well, it's certainly a different look to the other tele settings. Experiment complete. Just one more thing to do.

(Image credit: Future)

I remembered that – even with a phone – there are other ways of showing depth and scale; I think perhaps the third of these is the best panorama of the bunch, looking down the hills but with a bit of foreground. Needs some editing, or better still to never be shown as it's still somewhat mediocre, but with some foreground it gives a better view of the environment.

Finally I could race the setting sun back to the car park, using the briskness of the walk to stay warm in the English winter!

Is the iPhone the best phone for photography? Would it be even better if I spent more time learning the esoteric tricks, like shooting spatial video for Vision Pro?

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Adam Juniper
Managing Editor

With over 20 years of expertise as a tech journalist, Adam brings a wealth of knowledge across a vast number of product categories, including timelapse cameras, home security cameras, NVR cameras, photography books, webcams, 3D printers and 3D scanners, borescopes, radar detectors… and, above all, drones. 

Adam is our resident expert on all aspects of camera drones and drone photography, from buying guides on the best choices for aerial photographers of all ability levels to the latest rules and regulations on piloting drones. 

He is the author of a number of books including The Complete Guide to Drones, The Smart Smart Home Handbook, 101 Tips for DSLR Video and The Drone Pilot's Handbook