One of the headline features of this year’s iPhone lineup will be the iPhone 15 Pro Max periscope lens, allowing much greater optical zoom for the telephoto lens. It’s likely to allow at least 10x zoom, compared to the maximum 3x available on the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max.
A new report from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says that Apple is paying supplier Largan just $4 for this lens, a sum which barely allows the supplier any profit margin at all …
iPhones offer a combination of optical zoom and digital zoom. The latter crops the photo, so reduces resolution, while optical zoom produces a full-resolution telephoto image.
The greater the optical zoom you want from a lens, the longer the lens has to be. This poses problems for smartphones, whose depth limits the maximum possible length of a lens.
A periscope lens solves this problem. After the light enters the front element of the lens, a prism bends the light 90 degrees so that the rest of the lens assembly can be horizontal within the camera body. You can read a more detailed explanation here.
Kuo has previously said that the periscope lens will be exclusive to the iPhone 15 Pro Max. There have been conflicting reports about whether or not the feature will make it into the smaller iPhone 16 Pro next year.
iPhone 15 Pro periscope lens costs
While it’s unlikely that Kuo’s text should be taken literally, to mean zero profit, it does suggest that Largan’s margins on the lens are wafer-thin.
Largan is expected to be the sole lens supplier for this year’s iPhone 15 Pro Max periscope camera. The market may have overestimated the contribution of the periscope lens to Genius’s revenue and profit for 2H23–1H24.
The ASP for Largan’s shipped periscope camera lenses is around USD 4 (including the prisms), notably lower than the market consensus of USD 4.5–5 or higher. It is worth noting that the price of USD 4 means that Largan cannot profit from the periscope camera lens.
Apple’s orders for iPhone camera lenses have often been split between Largan and Genius, allowing the Cupertino company to play one off against the other to achieve the most competitive pricing. This year it seems Largan got all the orders, but apparently had to shave its price substantially to do so.
Kuo goes on to say that Genius will receive periscope lens for next year’s iPhone 16, driving the component cost even lower.
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