Apple is planning something big for the iPhone 16 Pro Max camera

The Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max's camera module.
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The iPhone 16 is still several months away from its anticipated fall launch, but we’ve already gotten plenty of leaks about what to expect from the lineup, including design changes, color options, battery size upgrades for the Pro Max, and more.

The latest leak comes from a leaker on Weibo, essentially confirming Ming-Chi Kuo’s analysis at the beginning of the year about a camera upgrade for the iPhone 16 Pro and Pro Max models. According to the tipster, the main camera sensor of the iPhone 16 Pro will be a Sony IMX803 sensor — the same one on the iPhone 15 Pro models — while the iPhone 16 Pro Max will get a more advanced IMX903.

In addition to the iPhone 16 Pro Max getting an improved main camera, both the iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max are expected to get 48-megapixel ultrawide cameras, up from the 12MP camera on the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max models.

We’re looking at a higher megapixel count, along with a bigger sensor size, though this may come at the cost of pixel size, which may shrink from 1 micron on the iPhone 15 Pro’s 12MP sensor to 0.7 microns on the iPhone 16 Pro’s 48MP ultrawide sensor.

The good news is that despite the paring down of sensor size on paper, it’s unlikely to affect the performance very much due to “pixel binning.” Almost all phones with high-resolution camera sensors use pixel binning to combine adjacent pixels to create one artificial “superpixel,” which can produce more-detailed images. We’d be genuinely shocked if this technology weren’t present on the iPhone 16.

iPhone 16 Pro Max mockups next to a iPhone 15 Pro Max.
iPhone 16 Pro Max dummy model next to an iPhone 15 Pro Max ZONEofTECH

As for the telephoto cameras, the Phone 16 Pro Max should have a 5x telephoto camera, unchanged from the previous generation. That said, the layout of the rear camera array may change rather dramatically, moving to a vertical pill-like camera island, reminiscent of the iPhone X. Again, this all lines up with previous news we’ve heard about the iPhone 16 Pro and Pro Max camera upgrades.

Kuo previously suggested that the selfie camera may also be upgraded, though this may only come for the iPhone 17, a phone lineup that won’t appear until 2025. We may potentially see a 24MP front sensor, up from the current 12MP camera. To date, Kuo has been proven correct more often than he’s been wrong, so there’s good reason to believe this analysis is accurate.

In other recent leaks, we’ve heard about a new battery cell with improved energy density and a new protective battery shell. This also comes with news about a huge iPhone 16 redesign, a size upgrade for the iPhone 16 Pro Max, and features like a larger Action Button and a new Capture Button. With summer approaching, we expect another flurry of iPhone 16 leaks and news before Apple’s likely and still unnamed event in the fall.