Can Apple raise the iPhone 16 Pro price over expensive 5x optical zoom camera?

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Can Apple raise the iPhone 16 Pro price over expensive 5x optical zoom camera?
According to famed Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who correctly predicted that only the iPhone 15 Pro Max will have folded optics zoom and a price increase this year, said 5x optical zoom kit will trickle down to the iPhone 16 Pro in 2024.

This is pretty much in line with Apple's new tactic of fragmenting its lineup in terms of specs and features so as to push its customers towards the higher price tiers which now have all the exclusive goods. The strategy seems to be working, as the Pro line now sells way more than the cheaper iPhones in its series, with the 15 Pro Max, in particular, predicted to move 35 million units by year's end alone.

According to Kuo, "the iPhone 15 Pro Max order for this year has been revised upward to 35 million units (vs. 28 million shipments for the 14 Pro Max last year), serving as the primary growth driver for Apple’s iPhone business in 4Q23," indicating huge interest in Apple's first phone with folded optics zoom.

Both iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max will sport 5x optical zoom

That first phone won't be the last, though, as Apple reportedly plans to introduce its newfangled 5x "tetraprism" zoom camera to the smaller member of the iPhone 16 Pro line as well, tips Kuo:

Can Apple raise the iPhone 16 Pro price?

Apple's Tetraprism folded optics zoom solution is pretty ingenuous in that it doesn't require a periscope style kit that takes more space inside a phone, like on the Galaxy S23 Ultra with its monster 10x optical zoom kit. It rather bounces light back and forth between several prisms so that it can artificially increase the focal length and zoom range of the camera in the given thickness of the phone with the camera island. 

While this might be a cheaper solution to achieve 5x magnification, the kit still has to be very precisely made, and in big quantities if it will be introduced on the iPhone 16 Pro series. These challenges would apparently increase the component's price by 30%, unless Apple finds and approves alternative tetraprism lens suppliers by April, says Kuo.

The higher cost of Apple's new zoom camera components would most likely also raise the price of the iPhone 16 Pro, as ever since folded optics zoom was introduced on phones by the likes of Huawei, manufacturers have complained that the price of the periscope zoom solution is prohibitively expensive and lowering their profit margins. When we sat down with Huawei's CEO Richard Yu at a press event for the brand's P-series which was one of the first to introduce periscope zoom, he confirmed that the modules are very expensive at up to $100 per device at the time.

Apple may have found a way to introduce folded optics on the cheap, but that new component still adds to the production cost of an iPhone 15 Pro Max, so Apple raised its price by $200. We can reasonably expect that it will do the same with the iPhone 16 Pro which may very well start from $1,099 next year, instead of the current iPhone 15 Pro price of under a grand.

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