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'iPhone 13 Pro Max' to feature f/1.5 wide angle camera, Kuo says

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While Apple is not expected to significantly upgrade the rear-facing cameras in its next-generation iPhone series, the largest-screened model will get a slight performance bump thanks in part to a larger effective aperture, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Kuo dropped the tidbit in a note on Wednesday that details Apple's lens supply pipeline. According to the analyst's latest checks, an f/1.5 equivalent lens will cover the wide angle imaging module on a so-called "iPhone 13 Pro Max," potentially opening the door to better nighttime photography and increased bokeh.

Apple's other "iPhone 13" models, which are rumored to include an "iPhone 13 mini," "iPhone 13" and "iPhone 13 Pro" are expected to share an f/1.6 wide angle lens similar or identical in design to the setup introduced with iPhone 12 in 2020.

Like current iPhones, each "iPhone 13" wide angle camera will boast a 7P lens stack to optimize light gathering capabilities and cut down on chromatic aberrations. Apple is expected to transition all rear-facing lenses to 7P in the coming years.

Kuo believes Chinese lens supplier Sunny Optical is primed to pass quality verification testing for its 7P components and should soon enter Apple's supply chain. If all goes well, the company will start shipping 7P wide angle lenses for "iPhone 13" in the second quarter of 2021.

Though this year's iPhone update is not anticipated to bring big changes to the table in terms of imaging hardware, Apple is reportedly planning major upgrades for 2022 and 2023. In March, Kuo said next year's iPhone is likely to adopt a "unibody" design that integrates a camera's voice coil motor with its lens array, saving internal space while increasing device robustness. The following year could mark the introduction of compact and efficient periscope lens technology, which is supposedly slated for use in a telephoto camera configuration.

Beyond iPhone, Apple's need for optical lenses is expected to greatly increase in the next few years as the tech giant moves into new markets with products like "Apple Glass" and "Apple Car," Kuo says.