List the iPhone’s strengths that place it among the best phones, and you’ll likely place cameras at the top of that list. So of course there’s a lot of focus on what Apple plans to do with the iPhone 14 cameras when its new phones launch in the fall.
Not that Apple told us anything — the company is notoriously tight-lipped about unannounced products. But leakers, analysts, and other Apple watchers aren’t so cautious. Ahead of the expected fall launch date, a whole host of rumors about the iPhone 14’s camera have surfaced, giving us a pretty good idea of what to expect from the new models.
As with many iPhone 14 rumors, it sounds like the iPhone 14 Pro models will see more significant changes, highlighted by a big upgrade to the main camera on Apple’s high-end phones. But you can also expect some improvements for the standard iPhone 14 that should make these phones once again contenders for the title of best camera phone.
Note that the rumors at this point are mostly focused on camera hardware, as that’s the kind of information Apple analysts can glean from the company’s supply chain. Software improvements, like the Cinematic mode Apple added as part of last year’s iPhone 13 release, should leak closer to the iPhone 14’s release date if past iPhone rumors are anything to go by.
With that in mind, here we take a closer look at the biggest rumored changes to the iPhone 14 cameras, and what those changes could mean for your mobile photos and videos.
1. A larger main camera for iPhone 14 Pro
By far the biggest camera change in the iPhone 14 lineup concerns the main camera on the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. The Pro phones are both expected to use 48-megapixel sensors for their main wide camera. That would be a big improvement over the 12-megapixel cameras on the current iPhone 13 Pro models. And really, it would mark a significant change for Apple overall, since the company has been using a 12-megapixel camera as the main lens on the iPhone since 2015.
Most Apple watchers expect this change to be limited to the Pro models, with the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Max (or iPhone 14 Plus, if you follow the rumored different name for Apple’s more affordable 6.7-inch – handset believe) turn to the same 12MP sensors as before. In fact, looking at the iPhone 14 vs. iPhone 14 Pro rumors suggests that most of the big changes are headed for Apple’s Pro phones.
Increasing the megapixel count of the iPhone 14 Pro’s main cameras would allow the phone to capture higher-resolution shots with more detail. It would also give photo professionals more work and manipulation options when editing photos, potentially signaling a more feature-rich Pro mode for the iPhone 14 Pro’s camera app.
However, a 48-megapixel main camera has other implications besides resolution. For example, Apple could turn to pixel binning, which combines pixels together. At darker settings, the combined pixel can capture more light and reduce noise. The end result would be better low-light photography, albeit at the expense of resolution.
Another important aspect of a 48-megapixel sensor as the iPhone 14 Pro’s main camera – it would pave the way for Apple’s Pro phones to record 8K video. At the moment, the iPhone 13 Pro outperforms 4K video recording at 60 fps. A higher resolution sensor removes the hardware limitations of recording 8K video and would allow the upcoming iPhone to match the video recording capabilities of some Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy S22.
There’s another implication for Apple moving towards a 48-megapixel main sensor that goes beyond photo capabilities. Apple would have to increase the size of the camera lens to accommodate the larger sensor. That means a wider, thicker camera hump on the iPhone 14 Pro models – a change that seems to have secured schemes for the upcoming phone.
2. Improved front cameras for all iPhone 14 models
The iPhone 14 won’t freeze when it comes to camera switching, but the main rumor concerns the upcoming phone’s front camera. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claims that all four iPhone 14 models will get an upgraded selfie camera, improving on the 12-megapixel TrueDepth camera that made its debut with the iPhone 11 lineup.
Specifically, Kuo predicts that the iPhone 14’s front camera aperture will increase, going from f/2.2 to f/1.9. That should let in more light and create cleaner images when taking selfies or starting FaceTime calls. Speaking of FaceTime improvements, Kuo also believes the front-facing camera will get built-in autofocus, which should result in sharper video on calls.
In addition, the new front camera features a 6-element lens, an improvement over the 5-element lens used by current iPhones. As we learned when the iPhone 12 went from a 6-element lens to a 7-element lens, the more elements there are, the better the image quality. In particular, the additional element can correct distortions and aberrations in the image for a better overall shot.
3. No periscope style zoom lens
We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but a big rumor about the iPhone 14’s camera addresses a feature that it is Not come to the Pro models. Early rumors suggested that Apple might opt for a periscope-style telephoto lens on the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. This design would pave the way for Apple to increase the optical zoom of its phones and position the iPhone to better compete with Samsung’s flagships on that front.
At the moment, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is the undisputed king of zooming, thanks to two telephoto lenses that offer 3x and 10x optical zoom respectively. With the help of software, these lenses can also support 100x space zoom for incredible close-up shots. (You’ll need to put the S22 Ultra on a tripod to reduce blur from handling the phone.) The iPhone 13 Pro, with its 3x zoom, has a hard time keeping up. Just check out these zoom shots of the Galaxy S22 Ultra in action.
A periscope-style lens is still on the way for future iPhones — just not the iPhone 14 Pro. Kuo expects it to arrive next year, and other iPhone leaks are now backing that claim, particularly with the news that the iPhone 14 Pro’s final design will not feature a periscope lens.
4. Auto focus for iPhone 14 ultrawide camera
Here’s an older rumor that doesn’t get much attention these days, but as far as we know it’s still on the table for a possible iPhone 14 camera improvement. The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Max’s ultrawide camera could add autofocus.
If true, it would reflect a feature Apple added to the ultrawide lenses on the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max. It could also pave the way for the standard iPhone 14 to adopt the macro mode that Apple’s Pro models’ ultrawide lenses currently support.
This rumor actually dates back to before the iPhone 13 was released, when Ming-Chi Kuo – yes, him again – alerted the world to the autofocus feature that was headed for the iPhone 13 Pro’s ultrawide camera. At the time, Kuo said the feature would then be added to Apple’s other phones with the iPhone 14. The first part of that prediction came true last fall; Let’s see if the second part lasts this year.