Probe Lens - Press Release Reading How has the iPhone Camera Evolved? 1 minute

How has the iPhone Camera Evolved?

Let's look at the last three models to find out.
Since the first iPhone came out in 2007, Apple users have seen a massive upgrade in the iPhone. In the last 16 years, technology has improved, and the iPhone has followed suit. From a 2 MP camera in 2007 to a 48 MP camera in 2023, the technical specifications are here to prove the steady improvements. But, suspicions have risen with the release of the last couple of iPhones. Have we truly seen an improvement in the last three series? Let’s look at the facts.

But before we dive in, let's give tribute to the very first iPhone model with a 2023 unboxing of the 2007 iPhone.

What are the Last Three Series?

The last three series that we are referring to in this article are, the iPhone 13 (mini not included), iPhone 14, and iPhone 15 Pro/Pro Max models. The iPhone SE 3 was introduced on March 18th, 2022 which would technically be considered the last three series, but we won't include it in this breakdown.
  • iPhone 13 - Release Date: September 24, 2021
  • iPhone SE 3 - Release Date: March 18, 2022
  • iPhone 14 - Release Date: September 16, 2022
  • iPhone 15 - Release Date: September 22, 2023

A Look at the Finer Details, Through Telephoto

The iPhone 13, 14, and 15 models slightly differ when it comes to their resolution, focal length, and aperture. The 14/14 Plus and 15/15 Plus have two cameras, while the Pro/Pro Max models have three. All of the models listed do not have a unique telephoto lens like the Pro and Pro Max models.

The Pro and Pro Max models have three cameras, which include a unique telephoto lens. To be clear, the one camera to two, then three-camera leap did not make its first appearance within this series. The iPhone 7 Plus in 2016 was the first model to have a dual rear camera, and the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max in 2019 was the first model to introduce three rear cameras.

The graph below shows a comparison of each iPhone model:
As the graph shows, the telephoto camera is only available in the Pro and Pro Max iPhone models. This is the camera we want to focus on. The iPhone 15 Pro Max Telephoto 120 mm camera is the best upgrade we have seen in the telephoto camera. Photos taken by the iPhone 15 Pro Max have better highlights. There is an improved image processing that creates proper image exposure and natural color rendering. These features allow photos to look more true to life as shown in the Telephoto shootout below.
It is also key to note that the iPhone 14 Pro/Pro Max was the first to introduce a 48 Mpix camera. As any photographer, filmmaker or creator knows, the megapixels make a huge difference when it comes to creating more vivid and detailed shots. This was very apparent in the iPhone 13 to 14 upgrade.

A Cinematic Experience

The last three iPhone series have made a dramatic shift towards video improvements. The iPhone 13 was the first to introduce Cinematic Mode to Apple users. It allowed for a high-quality depth effect when shooting videos.

Then came action mode on the iPhone 14...

This allowed for better video stabilization when shooting action scenes.

Now we have the iPhone 15 series...

This allowed for ProRes video recording up to 4K at 60 fps with external recording, log video recording, and an academy color encoding system.
Watching each video produced by the different iPhone series makes it apparent just how much the iPhone camera has evolved.

A Portrait Mode Upgrade

Portrait mode was introduced in 2007 with the iPhone 7. The iPhone 7 was the first to recognize nine levels of depth and then apply blur to create bokeh.

Fast forward to 2023 and now the iPhone 15 is able to recognize when a person or pet is in the frame and automatically switch to portrait mode. Once the photo is taken you are able to change where the camera's focus is. The iPhone 15 Pro now offers a 120mm Telephoto compared to the previous 48mm Telephoto in the iPhone 14 Pro. This makes for a 5x optical zoom of sharper images.

A Final Answer...

Taking all the facts into consideration we can say that there has been an improvement. The camera on the iPhone 15 Pro Max has the best quality. As technology advances, some improvements may only be obvious in the finer details. But over time the finer details make all the difference.

What would your ideal camera upgrade in the next iPhone be?

"Additional Software and Hardware Used"

Ever see this note at the end of a "Shot on iPhone" video? No matter the type of camera you use, there is always a need for editing or additional gear to get high quality videos or images. In need of more gear to elevate your iPhone shots? Look no further then SANDMARC.
Learn More

Editing Apps Recommendation:

Watch as we list our top Camera editing Apps on the iPhone.

Gear Recommendation:

Our top three to take quality shots.
Film Rig
A mounting system ergonomically designed to hold comfortably and providing a stabilized footage when shooting action.


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Prolight Bi-Color Edition
Our most powerful light with a brightness power of 800 Lux. It provides a warm and cool temperature tones and anything in between perfect as a key light or fill light.
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Scape ND Filter
Scape ND Filters reduce the intensity of light coming to a camera allowing you to take control of your iPhone’s exposure & shutter speed


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