Apple's iPhone 16 and iPhone 17 camera upgrades roadmap revealed?

Apple iPhone 15 held up in hands
(Image credit: Future)

Speculation over future iPhone models has already begun, and it looks like Apple will aim to make up for any shortcomings of its recent iPhone 15

The iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Pro, and iPhone 15 Pro Max were greatly anticipated, and following its release in September 2023, they have received mixed reviews. Praise has been given for design choices such as the USB-C port and the titanium construction, however, many felt that the smartphone lacked in the camera department, more specifically in the image quality.

Photo of the Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max (Image credit: Basil Kronfli)

Thanks to renowned analyst and 'Apple observer' Ming-Chi Kuo, we now understand that Apple will be making some vast improvements in the camera department for the future iPhone 16 & 17 models. Through analysis of data produced by the lens manufacturer Kuo has provided some interesting insights.

With the continued trend of pushing the boundaries of mobile photography, the iPhone 16 Pro series is said to improve on Apple's tetraprism lens design introduced in the iPhone 15 Pro. The most significant upgrade will come from an improvement to the ultra-wide camera lens, upgrading from the 15 Pro's 12MP (1/3.6″) to 48MP (1/2.6″), meaning a significant enhancement in image quality.

The iPhone 16 Pro is also rumored to include molded glass lenses for a slimmer camera system and improved optical zoom.

iPhone 15 Pro (Image credit: Basil Kronfli)

Plans for the iPhone 17 Pro series have also been analyzed, with a major improvement to the front-facing camera expected. The front-facing camera in the iPhone 15 Pro, and soon the iPhone 16 Pro, is a 12MP/5P lens, this will be upgraded to a whopping 24MP/6P lens in the iPhone 17 Pro, vastly improving image quality.

As well as the camera upgrades, the iPhone 17 is rumored to use new technology for its mainboard, enhancing internal space.

This insight has come from the analysis of the data produced by the lens suppliers of the iPhone cameras – no official announcements have been made by Apple on the forthcoming iPhones, and nor – based on previous years – are they likely until shortly before the release which we don't expect to hear about until September.

The suggested camera upgrades make a lot of sense if Apple is to continue to compete with other smartphone rivals for the best camera phone for photography and video. Improvements to image recording and editing in phone, like that seen in the Google Pixel 8 Pro and expected in the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S24, will give Apple healthy competition and demand further developments in new models. AI has become a major element in the development of new phones, and although Apple does implement it, with the current trends, we may see it introduce more that enhances image creation.

You may be interested in our helpful guides to the best phone for video, the best iPhone 15 pro cases, and the best iPhone power bank

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Kalum Carter
Staff Writer

Kalum Carter is a UK-based photographer, writer, and photo editor. Kalum has been working as a freelance photographer for the best part of ten years, covering a wide range of assignments for well-known brands and publications in areas including portraiture, fashion, and documentary. 

Between commercial assignments, Kalum is currently working on a personal photography project exploring his connection to the Gower region of South Wales UK, as part of an MA in Photography from The University of West England.