Stacked sensors will give iPhone 16 a big camera boost

The most powerful sensor in the iPhone line will make it to the most affordable iPhone 16 models

iPhone 14 Pro camera close
(Image credit: Apple)

The iPhone 15 is expected to get a brand new stacked sensor design for better photography, but it won't be in every model: according to respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, manufacturing issues means that Sony hasn't been able to make enough sensors for Apple to use them across the iPhone 15 range. However, those issues should be solved in plenty of time for the new sensor to make it into every single iPhone 16.

The new stacked CMOS image sensor is believed to be coming to the standard iPhone 15 and the iPhone 15 Plus in 2023. By stacking multiple layers of circuitry together the new design reportedly captures much more light, which should make a big difference to both camera speed and low light performance: reported benefits include lower noise, brighter images and better detail.

The supply issues aren't just affecting Apple. Sony's a key sensor supplier for the best android phones too, and while Sony has improved production capacity to meet Apple's needs for the entry-level iPhone 15 models Kuo says that that appears to be at the expense of Android firms, who'll struggle to get the new sensor design in significant quantities. They may turn to Sony's rival, Will Semi.

What cameras are in the iPhone 15 and 16?

The entry-level iPhone 15 models are expected to get a 48MP rear camera with the new sensor. The Pro and Pro Max already use a stacked sensor, although it's unclear whether that's the same one we'll see in the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus, and multiple rumours predict that the iPhone 15 Pro Max will get a periscope lens for better optical zoom.

That periscope lens is expected to stay in the Pro Max for the following year's model, as well as moving into the iPhone 16 Pro. The lack of periscope in the standard iPhone 15 Pro is reportedly due to space constraints: a periscope lens needs more internal space and currently only the very biggest iPhone has room for it. Apple apparently reckons that's a problem it will have solved by the time the iPhone 16 is ready to roll.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (