Which iPhone Has 3 Cameras? Here’s The Complete List 
Apple’s iPhone now comes in a range of shapes and sizes, but only a select few iPhones have 3 cameras on their rear…
Key Takeaways 📱
All of Apple’s Pro Max and Pro model iPhones from the iPhone 11 series onwards feature 3 cameras. Non-Pro models run dual-lens camera modules. This is one of the main reasons why Apple’s Pro / Pro Max models cost more to buy.
The Pro / Pro Max Camera Advantage:
- 📸 Triple Camera Pioneers: iPhone 11 Pro / Pro Max were the first to feature 3 cameras.
- 🔒 Exclusive to Pro: Only the Pro and Pro Max models include the third sensor; standard iPhones, including the Mini and Plus, stick with dual-lens cameras.
- 🌐 LiDAR Advantage: Pro / Pro Max models exclusively equipped with the LiDAR sensor for advanced photography.
- 💸 Budget-Friendly Pros: Older Pro / Pro Max models, like the iPhone 12 and 13 series, now available at significantly reduced prices – save upwards of 40%.
Apple’s iPhone 15 series continues the trend of running 3 cameras on the Pro Max and Pro models and dual-lens cameras on the base model and the iPhone 15 Plus.
The First iPhone With Three Cameras
Not so long ago, Apple used single lens cameras on ALL of its iPhones. Then it switched to dual-lens cameras on the iPhone 7 Plus. The smaller, non-Plus models retained their single lens status, however (multiple camera lenses have always been reserved for Apple’s flagship models).
Apple’s first iPhone with 3 cameras was the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. The entry-level iPhone 11 shipped with a dual-lens camera on its rear and does not have an OLED display. This is why it was cheaper.
Apple’s iPhone 11 launched in 2019 and these were the first iPhones, although just the Pro models, to feature 3 cameras on their rear. In 2020, Apple stuck to the same deal with its iPhone 12 range.
Only this time, ALL of Apple’s iPhone 12 models shipped with OLED displays and 5G, a first for any iPhone.
Again, with the iPhone 12 lineup, the only models to feature 3 cameras on their rear is the iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro Max. These were Apple’s 2020 flagship models.
Apple followed the exact same pattern with the iPhone 13, iPhone 14 and its iPhone 15 series with the Pro and Pro Max models retaining the third-sensor and LiDAR.
iPhones With 3 Cameras
The following iPhone models all ship with three cameras in their main, rear-mounted camera module:
- iPhone 11 Pro
- iPhone 11 Pro Max
- iPhone 12 Pro
- iPhone 12 Pro Max
- iPhone 13 Pro
- iPhone 13 Pro Max
- iPhone 14 Pro
- iPhone 14 Pro Max
- iPhone 15 Pro
- iPhone 15 Pro Max
How The iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15’s Cameras Compare
When choosing between the iPhone 15 Pro Max and the iPhone 15, it’s essential to consider how their camera features cater to different user needs.
Let’s break down each feature, highlighting their benefits, and assess which model might be the better choice for you, considering both performance and cost.
Camera Features Compared
Key Takeaways: iPhone 15 Pro Max vs iPhone 15 📱
- 🎨 Advanced Photography: iPhone 15 Pro Max excels with a 48MP sensor for superior image quality.
- 🔍 Zoom Capabilities: Pro Max’s 5x optical zoom 🆚 Standard’s 2x zoom.
- 🎬 Video and Stability: Pro Max offers Sensor-Shift Stabilization and ProRes for professionals.
- 🌐 LiDAR Technology: Exclusive to Pro Max, enhancing AR and depth perception.
- 💰 Cost-Effective Choice: iPhone 15 provides quality at a more affordable price.
- 🤳 For Pros and Enthusiasts: Pro Max is ideal for high-end photography and videography.
- 📸 Everyday Use: iPhone 15 suits general users with its balanced features and value.
- 🤔 Deciding Factor: Choose Pro Max for cutting-edge features or iPhone 15 for cost-efficiency and everyday use.
That’s the sparknotes version of the differences. But if you need more detail, more nuance about the differences between Apple’s base models and its Pro / Pro Max models inside its iPhone 15 series, read on because we’re about to do a deep dive…
- iPhone 15 Pro Max: 48 Megapixels
- iPhone 15: 12 Megapixels
- Analysis: The Pro Max’s 48MP sensor promises higher resolution and detail, ideal for photography enthusiasts or professionals who need superior image quality for large prints or digital zoom. The standard iPhone 15’s 12MP camera, while lower in resolution, still offers excellent quality for everyday photography and is more cost-effective.
- Pro Max: 12 MP with 5x optical zoom
- Standard: 12 MP with 2x optical zoom
- Analysis: The Pro Max’s 5x optical zoom allows for clearer, closer shots without losing image quality, perfect for capturing distant subjects. The 2x zoom on the standard model is suitable for moderate zooming needs, making it a more budget-friendly option for casual photography.
Sensor-Shift Optical Image Stabilization
- Pro Max: Yes
- Standard: No
- Analysis: This feature in the Pro Max stabilizes images even in shaky conditions, leading to sharper photos and smoother videos. This is a significant advantage for users who record a lot of videos or take photos in motion. The absence of this feature in the standard model is a trade-off for a lower price point.
- Pro Max: Yes
- Standard: No
- Analysis: LiDAR enhances depth perception and AR experiences, making the Pro Max a better choice for AR applications and professional photography that requires precise depth mapping. The standard iPhone 15, lacking this feature, remains more affordable.
ProRes Video Recording
- Pro Max: Yes
- Standard: No
- Analysis: ProRes provides high-quality video recording with better color fidelity and less compression, ideal for professionals or video enthusiasts. The absence of ProRes in the standard model doesn’t affect casual video users much, but it significantly reduces the cost.
Cost vs. Benefit Analysis
- iPhone 15 Pro Max: This model is tailored for professionals and photography enthusiasts who need top-of-the-line camera features. The added benefits of a larger sensor, advanced zoom, stabilization, LiDAR, and ProRes support justify its higher price for users who demand the best photographic capabilities.
- iPhone 15: Aimed at the general consumer, this model balances quality and affordability. It offers a competent camera system that meets the needs of most users for daily photography and videography without the premium cost associated with advanced features.
Which Should You Get?
- For Professional Use or Advanced Photography: Choose the iPhone 15 Pro Max. Its superior camera features justify the higher cost for users who prioritize photography and videography quality.
- For Everyday Use and Budget-Friendly Option: The iPhone 15 is more than sufficient. It offers a robust camera system at a more accessible price point, suitable for casual photography and standard video recording needs.
Ultimately, the decision comes down to how much you value advanced camera features against the cost. The iPhone 15 Pro Max stands out for its superior capabilities, but the iPhone 15 offers excellent value for most users.
What Does The Third Camera Do?
In order to understand what the third camera on Apple’s iPhone Pro models does, we first need to understand how the camera module on its non-Pro models works.
On the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini, for instance, you have two lenses on the rear of the phone:
- 12 MP, f/1.6, 26mm (wide), 1.4µm, dual pixel PDAF, OIS
- 12 MP, f/2.4, 120˚, 13mm (ultrawide), 1/3.6″
And this setup is very good, it’s more than enough for most users. Apple also improved and iterated on this camera module with the iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 series. Images and video look great, you have a wide-angle lens for capturing landscapes and group shots, and the UX and usability is off the charts.
iPhone 14 Pro Camera vs iPhone 14 Pro Max
With the Pro and Pro Max models, you have a similar setup, just with the addition of an extra, third lens. The Pro Max, as you’ll see below, also has some exclusive upgrades that you cannot get on any other model.
iPhone 14 Pro Camera Specs
- Main Sensor: 48 MP (OIS, PDAF)
- Telephoto: 12 MP (Optical zoom: 3.0x; Aperture size: F2.8; Focal Length: 77 mm)
- Ultrawide: 12MP (Aperture size: F2.2; Focal Length: 13 mm)
- LiDAR: ToF 3D depth sensing
iPhone 14 Pro Max Camera Specs
- 48MP Main: 24 mm, ƒ/1.78 aperture, second-generation sensor-shift optical image stabilization, seven‑element lens, 100% Focus Pixels
- 12MP Ultra Wide: 13 mm, ƒ/2.2 aperture and 120° field of view, six‑element lens, 100% Focus Pixels
- 12MP 2x Telephoto (enabled by quad-pixel sensor): 48 mm, ƒ/1.78 aperture, second-generation sensor-shift optical image stabilization, seven‑element lens, 100% Focus Pixels
How Does LiDAR Work & What Does It Do?
Apple’s LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) sensor is a technology that works by emitting laser light and then measuring the time it takes for that light to bounce back after hitting an object. This allows the sensor to create a 3D map of the surrounding environment.
The LiDAR sensor on Apple devices, such as the iPhone 14 Pro, emits short pulses of laser light that are directed at the surrounding environment. These pulses of light bounce back after hitting objects and are picked up by the LiDAR sensor, which measures the time it takes for the light to return. Based on the time-of-flight measurement, the device can calculate the distance to the object.
By scanning the environment with thousands of laser pulses per second, the LiDAR sensor can create a 3D map of the surrounding space. This map is then used to improve augmented reality (AR) experiences, enhance low-light photography, and assist with object recognition and tracking.
As you can see, the camera tech on the Pro and Pro Max look kind of similar. But on closer inspection, you will see that the Pro Max variant has a more capable camera system than one used in the Pro model.
Why The Pro Max Costs More Than The Pro
It has larger sensors, bigger apertures, and far more advanced zoom capabilities. And these are all things that experienced, more professional camera users will notice. Here’s what Apple said about the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s camera at launch:
For the first time ever, the Pro lineup features a new 48MP Main camera with a quad-pixel sensor that adapts to the photo being captured, and features second-generation sensor-shift optical image stabilization. For most photos, the quad-pixel sensor combines every four pixels into one large quad pixel equivalent to 2.44 µm, resulting in amazing low-light capture and keeping photo size at a practical 12MP.
The quad-pixel sensor also enables a 2x Telephoto option that uses the middle 12 megapixels of the sensor for full-resolution photos and 4K videos with no digital zoom. This delivers optical quality at a familiar focal length, which is great for features like Portrait mode. The quad-pixel sensor also brings benefits to pro workflows, optimizing for detail in ProRAW. And with a new machine learning model designed specifically for the quad-pixel sensor, iPhone now shoots ProRAW at 48MP with an unprecedented level of detail, enabling new creative workflows for pro users.Apple
And the same rules apply to the iPhone 15 series and its Pro and Pro Max models.
Everything else is the same, however, save for the display size and the battery. Again, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is bigger in both contexts. If you can handle the price, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is the one to go for: it delivers the best of everything and has the best camera by a considerable margin.
You can pick one up from £60 a month on contract right now.