In 2019, Apple distinguished its premium "Pro" iPhone with an additional telephoto camera feature. This third lens not only marked the Pro status but also significantly differentiated these high-end models from the regular variants. Over the years, the expectation for substantial camera upgrades in Pro models has become a standard, as these upgrades justify the steep price tag associated with the top-tier iPhones.
However, the recent Apple fall event has left many, including myself, somewhat underwhelmed. The new iPhone 15 Pro Max, the only model to feature a notable camera upgrade, now boasts a 5x telephoto camera as opposed to the iPhone 14 Pro’s 3x zoom camera. But this upgrade comes with a hefty price – a hundred dollars more than its predecessor, making the starting price of the latest iPhone Pro Max a whopping $1,200. This could make potential buyers question whether the camera upgrade justifies the price hike, especially when the base storage capacity remains unchanged at 256GB.
Disappointing Camera Upgrades in Apple’s Latest Pro iPhones
Apple’s "Pro" iPhones have always been distinguished by their superior camera capabilities. In 2019, the first "Pro" iPhone model was introduced, featuring an additional telephoto camera at the back. However, the recent Apple fall launch event did not bring the anticipated camera upgrades for the new Pro models.
The Telephoto Camera – Not Quite Pro
The only significant camera upgrade was exclusive to the iPhone 15 Pro Max, which now features a 5x telephoto camera instead of the 3x zoom camera found in the iPhone 14 Pro. While this is an appreciable upgrade, it comes with a hefty price tag. The iPhone 15 Pro Max now starts at $1,200 — a $100 increase from its predecessor, with a default storage capacity of 256GB.
However, the telephoto camera upgrade is not quite up to par with industry standards. Rumors had suggested a periscope-style telephoto camera with a dramatic zoom range, akin to the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. However, Apple did not deliver on this front, and instead, limited the camera upgrade to the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
Other Disappointing Camera Features
In addition to the telephoto camera, the situation with the other two camera sensors leaves much to be desired. A standard 12-megapixel ultrawide or telephoto camera pales in comparison to the Oppo Find X6 Pro’s 50MP ultrawide camera or the Google Pixel 7 Pro’s 48-megapixel telephoto camera. Despite the high price tag, the iPhone 15 Pro’s camera capabilities are not significantly superior to its competitors.
The Focus on Software Over Hardware
Interestingly, Apple seems to be prioritizing software-based camera enhancements over hardware upgrades. Features such as the ability to instantly move 48MP ProRAW images to a Mac or record 4K 60fps video directly on an external storage device are targeted at serious "mobi-graphers". However, these features may not appeal to the average smartphone shopper who is shelling out $1,000 for a "Pro" iPhone.
Lack of Practical Upgrades
The iPhone 15 Pro also fails to deliver on practical upgrades. The USB 3.0 port promises faster data transfer speeds, but this does not significantly enhance everyday smartphone usage. Moreover, the iPhone 15 Pro lacks faster wired charging, a feature that many users would appreciate.
In conclusion, the latest Pro iPhones do not deliver the kind of camera upgrades that justify their hefty price tags. While the A17 Pro, a 3nm silicon chip, is a notable upgrade, it does not compensate for the lack of meaningful camera improvements. The term "Pro" should denote superior features and capabilities, and unfortunately, the iPhone 15 Pro models do not live up to this expectation. It seems that the vanilla iPhone 15 offers the best value in terms of incremental improvements this year.