iPhone 15 Ultra could get a huge camera upgrade to take on the Galaxy S24 Ultra

A closeup on the iPhone 14 Pro series' triple camera system, the device depicted is the Deep Purple colorways
The iPhone 14 Pro already has an impressive triple-camera setup (Image credit: Apple)

Only last week, we published a story explaining how the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra's zoom capabilities could leave Apple’s iPhones in the dust – but a new rumor suggests the iPhone 15 Ultra will come with the camera tech to rival Samsung’s next Galaxy flagship, after all. 

According to serial Apple tipster Revengus (opens in new tab), the iPhone 15 Ultra will arrive packing a telephoto camera with a variable zoom lens; the same setup rumored to feature on the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra. 

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra – our current pick for the best phone currently on the market – already features two telephoto cameras, but its successor is expected to replace the former’s 3x and 10x lenses with a single telephoto sensor with a variable system that allows it to move optically between these degrees of magnification. The iPhone 14 Pro Max, in contrast, can only optically zoom up to 3x; so the rumored addition of any variable zoom lens to the iPhone 15 Ultra is particularly significant for Apple.

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Variable optical zoom cameras are exceptionally rare among today’s smartphones. As noted in our aforementioned article, the Sony Xperia 1 IV uses one, but it’s only capable of zooming between 3.5x and 5.2x. So, if both Samsung and Apple can add variable zoom lenses (with superior ranges) to their respective upcoming flagships, our ranking of the best camera phones is in for a serious shake-up. 

As with all rumors, though, some caveats must be added. For starters, we’ve heard more iPhone 15 rumors in recent weeks than we can shake a stick at, with some – like the news that the iPhone 15 Pro could get solid-state volume and power buttons – being both corroborated and denied in the space of a few days. 

We wouldn’t be surprised, then, if a new rumor emerges tomorrow that contradicts today’s reports of an iPhone 15 Ultra with a variable zoom lens. In any case, it’s exciting to think that the possibility even exists.

iPhone 15 Ultra: what else to expect

The iPhone 14 Pro Max (front) and iPhone 14 Pro (back) in black on a blue background

The iPhone 15 Ultra is expected to arrive in place of an iPhone 15 Pro Max (Image credit: Apple)

As for what other features are expected to arrive with the iPhone 15 Ultra, we’ve heard that the device will – at the very least – be getting more advanced image processing capabilities than its Pro-level counterpart, the iPhone 15 Pro.

On the design front, unofficial iPhone 15 Ultra renders have hinted at a USB-C port, a slightly shallower camera bump and a curvier chassis than the iPhone 14 Pro Max, while the phone could be clad in titanium, too (which is typically stronger and lighter than the stainless steel used by current iPhones).

Despite using the same processor, the iPhone 15 Ultra is rumored to be even more powerful than the iPhone 15 Pro, with one source claiming that the former’s software won't limit the phone as much as it will on the Pro model. The only real reason the software would limit it in the first place is to stop the phone overheating, so that also suggests the iPhone 15 Ultra might have a better cooling system.

We’re keeping tabs on all the latest iPhone 15 Ultra rumors as and when they appear, so stay tuned to TechRadar in the run-up to this year’s potentially-seismic iPhone reveal event.

Axel Metz
Staff Writer

Axel is a London-based staff writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from the newest movies to latest Apple developments as part of the site's daily news output. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion. 

Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned an NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme.