Last July, Apple supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported that he expected Apple to use a periscope-style camera module in its 2022 iPhones. While we’re yet to see if that prediction comes to fruition, Kuo is back with a new research note that once again claims Apple will put a periscope-style camera module in it’s iPhone devices. But this time he suggests we won’t see the folded optic design until the 2023 iPhone launch.

There are already a number of smartphones on the market with periscope-style zoom camera modules inside, including Huawei’s P30 Pro, Samsung’s Galaxy S20 Ultra, OPPO’s Find X2 Pro and others. The exact implementation of the ‘zoom’ mechanism varies slightly between devices, but the basic principle is a folded optic design that enables better telephoto capabilities by redirecting the light path off a mirror and onto the sensor after passing through the optical elements of the internal lens.

Oppo periscope tele lens design

So far, Apple has only used static camera modules inside its mobile devices, with the latest iPhone 12 Pro Max devices maxing out at 2.5x optical zoom and 12x digital zoom. For comparison, Huawei’s P30 Pro offers 5x optical zoom with its periscope camera module, while Samsung’s Galaxy S20 Ultra offers up to a 100x ‘Space Zoom’ feature that combines optical zoom, digital zoom and AI-powered processing to achieve incredible zoom range in a smartphone.

Apple design for a 'folded' lens with mirror

Kuo isn’t always right with the timing of new features and devices mentioned in his reports, but given time, most details end up coming to fruition in some form. Back in 2016, Apple filed a patent for its own periscope lens design, showing Apple has been considering putting true optical zoom inside its devices for at least five years.