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Can Apple raise the iPhone 16 Pro price over expensive 5x optical zoom camera?

by Maine Bacos

Apple Analyst Predicts 5x Optical Zoom for iPhone 16 Pro in 2024

Renowned Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has made another accurate prediction, this time regarding the iPhone lineup for the coming years. Kuo, who correctly anticipated that only the iPhone 15 Pro Max would feature folded optics zoom and a price increase this year, now suggests that the 5x optical zoom feature will trickle down to the iPhone 16 Pro in 2024. This prediction aligns with Apple’s recent strategy of fragmenting its lineup to incentivize customers to upgrade to higher-priced models.

The success of this strategy is evident in the current sales figures for Apple’s Pro line, which is outselling the cheaper iPhone options. The iPhone 15 Pro Max, in particular, is projected to sell 35 million units by the end of the year alone. Kuo’s revised estimate for the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s order quantity indicates significant interest in Apple’s first folded optics zoom phone.

Looking ahead to the iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max, both models are expected to feature 5x optical zoom. Kuo explains that Apple is rapidly improving lens specifications and expanding production to meet the demand for this feature. However, these improvements come at a cost, with the unit price of the iPhone 16 Pro Max telephoto lens increasing by approximately 30% to $6–6.5.

To ensure optimal camera performance and production yields, both the iPhone 16 Pro Max and iPhone 16 Pro are likely to maintain high specifications. Kuo predicts that the shipment of iPhones equipped with quad-reflective telephoto cameras will grow by around 110% year over year, reaching 70-80 million units in 2024.

Apple’s unique tetraprism folded optics zoom solution offers a compact alternative to traditional periscope-style kits used by competitors like the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. By bouncing light between several prisms, Apple can artificially increase the focal length and zoom range without requiring additional space within the phone.

While this solution may be more cost-effective than periscope zoom, it still requires precise manufacturing at scale. This increased production complexity could contribute to a 30% rise in the component’s price, unless Apple identifies alternative suppliers of the tetraprism lens by April.

As a result of the higher costs associated with the new zoom camera components, it is likely that the price of the iPhone 16 Pro will also increase. Manufacturers using periscope zoom systems have previously voiced concerns regarding the prohibitively high costs of these modules, which, at one point, reached up to $100 per device. Apple’s adoption of folded optics zoom on the iPhone 15 Pro Max led to a $200 price increase for that model. Thus, it is reasonable to expect that the iPhone 16 Pro could start at $1,099 in 2024, up from the current sub-$1,000 price of its predecessor.

In summary, Ming-Chi Kuo’s prediction of 5x optical zoom for the iPhone 16 Pro in 2024 aligns with Apple’s strategy of fragmenting its lineup and guiding consumers towards higher-priced models. Apple’s innovative folded optics zoom solution offers an alternative to bulkier periscope-style zoom mechanisms. However, the production complexities and higher costs associated with this technology could result in a price increase for the iPhone 16 Pro.

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