Will the iPhone 16 Pro have a 48 MP ultra-wide camera?
Image courtesy: Apple

It’s only been a few months since the iPhone 15 hit the shelves, but rumors are already starting to circulate about its successor. The latest news stories suggest that the smartphone’s wide-angle camera might be getting an upgrade.

What’s the rumor?

A news story about a camera upgrade for the iPhone 16 Pro was posted by the Apple Insider website. The iPhone 15 Pro has a 48-megapixel main camera, however, its ultra-wide and telephoto cameras only have 12-megapixel sensors. Apple Insider reported that a post on the website social media site Weibo from an account called Setsuna Digital suggested that this may be going to change with next year’s new model. The post said that it is “time for the 48-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens.”

Why the wide-angle camera?

Higher-resolution sensors give more effective focal lengths for smartphone cameras. This is because the additional resolution allows for cropping without affecting image quality to any great extent. Some online discussions have therefore questioned why the telephoto camera isn’t getting the 48 MP sensor where higher detail would be more useful. However, the ultra-wide angle camera could be preferred by Apple because of the new spatial video feature.

What are spatial videos?

Apple released iOS 17.2 for its iPhone range last week and this update added spatial video recording to the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. Spatial videos are much more advanced than simple 3D videos, as the perspective changes when you change your view. To record spatial videos, the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max use both their main and ultra-wide cameras simultaneously. Depth information about the image is also captured by the smartphone’s LiDAR function.

What we think about the iPhone 16 rumor

Apple is hoping that spatial videos captured on the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max will help drive sales of its Apple Vision Pro mixed-reality headset which is launching early next year. However, the current flagship smartphones have lower 12-megapixel resolution ultra-wide cameras. Upgrading these sensors to 48-megapixels would mean that both cameras used to capture spatial video in the iPhone 16 Pro and Pro Max would be very high resolution. It’s important to remember that this is just a rumor, but it’s one that makes sense.

Featured image courtesy: Apple

Pete Tomkies is a freelance cinematographer and camera operator from Manchester, UK. He also produces and directs short films as Duck66 Films. Pete's latest short Once Bitten... won 15 awards and was selected for 105 film festivals around the world.