A Close-Up Look at the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s ‘Tetraprism’ Camera

Apple’s new iPhone 15 Pro Max is an awesome smartphone for photographers and videographers. One of the device’s big new features is its 120mm f/2.8 lens, delivering five times the reach of the phone’s main camera. Alongside new features, the phone’s design is quite different from the iPhone 14 Pro Max. iFixit has performed its annual iPhone teardown to see what’s new.

The iPhone 15 Pro family boasts some significant design changes. Apple has moved away from stainless steel, switching to a titanium frame that is the subject of much of Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro marketing campaign. Alongside the aesthetic difference, the titanium chassis has reduced the iPhone 15 Pro’s weight by about 20%.

On the performance side, Apple has finally moved away from its proprietary Lightning port and embraced USB-C. While the impetus for this change may have been out of Apple’s hands, the move to USB-C has unlocked major speed for pro users.

Once opened, the iPhone 15 Pro Max reveals a similar battery to last year’s model, albeit with a 2.5% higher capacity. In typical Apple fashion, many device parts are pretty tricky to remove. However, the camera assembly is relatively straightforward to pull from the smartphone once its cables are disconnected.

Although the standard iPhone 15 Pro is nothing to scoff at, the new 5x optical zoom camera is exclusive to the larger Max handheld. Of the 5x zoom camera, iFixit says, “It’s not as much as the S23 Ultra’s 10x, but the way Apple’s engineers achieved it is particularly interesting.”

“Instead of opting for a series of lens elements controlled by electromagnets, they designed a single element ‘tetraprism’ periscope that reflects light multiple times to simulate the 120mm focal length,” iFixit continues.

iPhone 15 Pro teardown
Credit: Apple

Aside from the new 5x lens, the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s main and ultra-wide cameras appear to be the same as last year’s modules. However, that is not to say that there aren’t improvements to image quality — there are — but the better performance is due to sophisticated software advancements rather than purely hardware-based tweaks.

iFixit’s written teardown report includes many more details and images are showing the inside of Apple’s iPhone 15 family of smartphones, including a closer look at the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s impressive camera module.