iPhone 16 camera: All the upgrades we expect

iPhone 16 camera: All the upgrades we expect
Besides all of the AI software stuff, this year we also expect some big camera upgrades with the iPhone 16 series. Well, the truth is 95% of those upgrades seem to be reserved only for the Pro models so far, further separating them from the iPhone 16 and 16 Plus.

A new main image sensor and, lo and behold, a new ultra-wide camera are reported to be introduced with the iPhone 16 Pro and 16 Pro Max. Both upgrades sound excitingly impactful given how much they could improve the iPhone's camera system.

As for the non-Pro iPhone 16 models, we expect a small visual change this year that might stir up some memes throughout the interwebs this year.

iPhone 16 Pro and 16 Pro Max camera upgrades

New 48MP main sensor

The iPhone 16 Pro models are said to receive two new camera upgrades, and one of them will be for the 48MP main camera. While it will keep its 48MP, the report says it will be powered by a new custom-made Sony IMX903 image sensor.

The Sony IMX903 sensor will measure at 1/1.14", which is significantly larger than the 1/1.28" Sony IMX803 on the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max from last year. The bigger sensor size several benefits, one of which is increased light sensitivity for better low-light performance. Another advantage is the more natural bokeh (blurred foreground and background), which is great for stunning portraits.

Its larger size is not the only upgrade though! Reports also say that the custom Sony IMX903 will come with three other advantages:

  • A stacked design: This boosts the speed at which the camera takes photos and helps collect light more efficiently, resulting in clearer images.
  • A 14-bit Analog-to-Digital Converter (ADC): This improves image quality even further by "widening" the camera's dynamic range, helping it simultaneously capture more detail across shadows and highlights.
  • Digital Gain Control (DCG): A tool that helps the camera capture a more well-exposed image with less graininess (less noise). In other words, helps with low-light/night photos and video.

We are catching some hints based on this new sensor for the iPhone 16 Pro and Pro Max main camera. It is highly geared to handle low light photography and video recording, which leads us to think Apple might introduce a new feature that makes use of these improvements. Something to battle Samsung's "Nightography" maybe?

A new ultra-wide camera

Finally! Apple is said to get rid of the 12MP ultra-wide camera it has stuck to for so long and replace it with a high resolution one, rocking 48MP just like the main sensor. This should mean you can take photos in Apple's ProRAW format that preserves significantly more information. It shoulda also mean the default photos taken with the ultra-wide camera will be 24MP, offering a much higher level of detail.

New lens material and coating

Rumors suggest Apple is adding a special coating to the lenses called ALD (Atomic Layer Deposition). This fancy coating should help reduce those annoying streaks of light (lens flare) that can sometimes ruin your photos, especially at night.

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Another bonus? The lenses themselves might be lighter and thinner thanks to a new type of molded glass. This could mean a smaller camera bump on the back of the phone, making it sleeker and easier to handle.

iPhone 16 and 16 Plus camera upgrades

New camera layout

Unfortunately, the iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Plus might not get the same upgrade treatment as the Pro models. Instead, the only change that's been circulating online is a new look for the camera island. Actually, scratch that, it is not even new, as it will resemble the one we saw on the iPhone 12.

The reason Apple is going back to the vertical orientation of the dual cameras for its less pricey models is to enable spatial video, intended to be viewed on the Apple Vision Pro headset. Diagonally positioned cameras like the ones on previous iPhone cameras can't record spatial video.

How many cameras will the iPhone 16 have?

The number of cameras on the iPhone 16 series will be the same as with the iPhone 15 lineup. That means we can expect a triple camera system on the Pro models including the main, ultra-wide, and telephoto cameras. The iPhone 16 and 16 Plus will come with one camera less, rocking just the main and an ultra-wide snappers.

Of course, all four iPhone 16 models will also come with front-facing cameras embedded in the display.

How many megapixels will the iPhone 16 cameras have?

iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max camera megapixels:
  • Main (wide-angle): 48 MP
  • Ultrawide: 48 MP
  • Telephoto: 12MP
  • Front: 12 MP

iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Plus camera megapixels:
  • Main (wide-angle): 48 MP
  • Ultrawide: 12 MP
  • Front: 12 MP

iPhone 16 expected camera specs

Here's an overview of the expected camera specs for the iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max:

  • Main (wide) camera—48 MP Sony IMX903 sensor, 1/1.14" sensor size, f/1.78 aperture, 24mm lens equivalent, optical image stabilization (OIS)
  • Ultrawide camera—48 MP, 1/2.6" sensor size, 0.7um pixel size, f/2.2 aperture, 13mm lens equivalent
  • iPhone 16 Pro: Telephoto camera—3X optical zoom, 12 MP, 1/3.5" sensor size, 1.0um pixel size, f/2.2 aperture, 77mm lens equivalent, OIS
  • iPhone 16 Pro Max: Telephoto camera—5X optical zoom, 12 MP, 1/3.06" sensor size, 1.12um pixel size, f/2.2 aperture, 120mm lens equivalent, OIS
  • Front camera—12MP, 1/3.6" sensor size, f/1.9 aperture, 23mm lens equivalent, OIS

Most notable from the specs above is the new 48MP ultra-wide camera on the Pro models. A bit less noticeable is the new main 48 MP Sony IMX903 image sensor, which has the same resolution as last year's main camera but is larger in comparison. The bigger size should allow for better low-light performance and more natural portraits with blurred background and foreground.

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