Since we’re getting closer and closer to Apple’s iPhone 16 series launch this fall, it’s not exactly surprising to see industry pundits and tipsters from all corners of the world talk about various features and characteristics of these devices as if they’re already etched in stone.

But Ming-Chi Kuo is one of the very few people that can grab our attention by convincingly predicting what four (!!!) different families of unannounced iPhones could bring to the table in terms of camera upgrades. While we’re obviously not saying all of Kuo’s latest Medium prophecies will come true precisely as they’re envisioned today, we’d also be wary of betting against a man who’s been right about so many things in the last decade or so.

The iPhone 16 Pro will Max out its camera and the 17 Pro Max should further step it up

If you like ultra-high-end camera specifications but you’re not a big fan of the biggest phones out there today, you’re probably going to love this year’s “compact” iPhone 16 Pro. That’s because Apple is expected to put the iPhone 15 Pro Max‘s state-of-the-art tetraprism lens on both the handset’s direct jumbo-sized sequel and its non-Max brother.

A tetraprism is not very different from a periscope camera, which has been a relatively widespread thing on super-premium Android devices for several years now. In the purest Apple fashion, the technology was introduced pretty late to the iPhone family compared with the competition, renamed to sound catchier and fancier, ultimately producing remarkable real-life results, as seen in our comprehensive iPhone 15 Pro Max review.

The tetraprism is the second of three similarly impressive cameras found on the back of the 15 Pro Max, and as explained on Apple’s official website, the “state-of-the-art design” comprised of a “folded glass structure below the lens” aims to “reflect light rays four times over”, thus allowing light to “travel for longer in the same space, giving you a new focal length that really goes the distance.”

Beyond all the technical talk, what the iPhone 15 Pro Max manages to do with this (late) innovation is take perfectly stable and crisp photos at up to 5x optical zoom. In contrast, the non-tetraprism-equipped iPhone 15 Pro only supports 3x optical zoom, but the 16 Pro should jump to 5x and share a 12MP periscope telephoto sensor with the iPhone 16 Pro Max.

Next year’s iPhone 17 Pro Max could then take a massive leap to a 48-megapixel secondary camera with (obviously) “enhanced photo quality and zoom functionality.” Some of that bad boy’s imaging details are unsurprisingly still unknown, and the same goes for the non-Max iPhone 17 Pro’s telephoto sensor, which could stay at the current 12 megapixel count or go up to 48MP as well.

Unfortunately, none of Kuo’s latest predictions concern the tertiary rear camera of any of Apple‘s next-gen iPhones, but previous rumors have called for the 17 Pro Max to adopt three different 48MP sensors, so that remains a very strong possibility.

Even bigger upgrades are tipped for the iPhone 19 series

If both the iPhone 17 Pro and 17 Pro Max end up featuring 48MP tetraprism cameras (which is naturally still a big “if”), the iPhone 18 Pro and 18 Pro Max are then expected to keep said vastly improved sensors largely unchanged in the fall of 2026.

That doesn’t sound particularly exciting (because not all new iPhones are), but the iPhone 19 family could enter the picture a year later with a “more substantial improvement” in the camera department. Yes, even “more substantial” than the iPhone 17 Pro Max’s predicted upgrade from a 12 to a 48MP telephoto sensor.

While it’s clearly far too early to know any specifics on the image-capturing abilities of a quartet of handsets likely to see daylight in the fall of 2027, “better optical zoom” is expected to be supported across the board. That should include the “vanilla” iPhone 19 and whatever model will follow the not-so-popular iPhone 15 Plus. With such big improvements tipped in just one key area, it might be a good idea to already start saving up for your 2027 iPhone purchase.

Adrian, a mobile technology enthusiast since the Nokia 3310 era, has been a dynamic presence in the tech journalism field, contributing to Android Authority, Digital Trends, and Pocketnow before joining PhoneArena in 2018. His expertise spans across various platforms, with a particular fondness for the diversity of the Android ecosystem. Despite the challenges of balancing full-time parenthood with his work, Adrian’s passion for tech trends, running, and movies keeps him energized. His commitment to mid-range smartphones has led to an eclectic collection of devices, saved from personal bankruptcy by his preference for ‘adequate’ over ‘overpriced’.

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