The iPhone 16 Pro Max could boast a big camera sensor upgrade with nighttime photography improvements and more

An iPhone 15 Pro Max against an abstract multi-colored retro background.
(Image credit: Gerald Lynch / Future / Apple)

Apple might have only made the iPhone 15 Pro Max available a few months ago, but attention has already very much turned towards what will come next — the iPhone 16 Pro Max. We've been hearing tidbits about Apple's plans here and there for the last little while but a new report has added additional information, specifically about where Apple could go in terms of camera upgrades.

According to that report Apple intends to turn the iPhone 16 Pro Max into an "image flagship" and it'll do that by giving it an upgraded camera sensor. A version of the tetraprism lens used in the iPhone 15 Pro Max will remain, while there is also a hint of a tweak to the new phone's display, too.

Apple isn't expected to unveil the new iPhone lineup until September of this year, with the iPhone 16 Pro Max likely to be joined by the iPhone 16 Pro, iPhone 16, and iPhone 16 Plus. We'll likely see more and more leaks and rumors as we get closer to the fall, but this latest camera leak suggests that the biggest and best iPhone is the one that people will want if photography is a focus for them,

A flagship camera for a flagship phone

The report comes via the normally well-connected Digital Chat Station, an account that posts to the Weibo Chinese social network. Picked up by WCCFTech, the report says (via machine translation) that the new iPhone 16 Pro Max will use a modified version of Sony's IMX903 sensor. That sensor will be 1/1.14 inches in size compared to the previous model's 1/1.28-inch sensor. If that proves to be the case buyers of the new iPhone can expect to benefit from brighter images which in turn should also ensure better performance in low-light situations. Digital Chat Station goes on to say that the new sensor will be a multi-layer one and benefit from a 14-bit ADC (analog-to-digital converter) and DCG (digital gain control.) Both of those features should ensure a better overall image including a reduction in the noise created when taking photos in more challenging conditions.

It's important to note that Digital Chat Station did not mention the iPhone 16 in this report which suggests that the new sensor may be exclusive to the bigger model.

The report also mentioned that the iPhone 16 Pro Max will have a slight curve to it, although it's difficult to know what that will mean in practice or whether that will apply to other models in the iPhone 16 lineup. 

However, as reliable as Digital Chat Station has proven in the past it's important to remember that we are still a long way out from any of the new iPhones being made official and plans can and do often change. Even if the information that this leaker has is accurate right now, there is no guarantee that it will still be accurate by the time Apple unveils the new iPhones in early September. However, it would make plenty of sense for Apple to focus on camera upgrades this year, especially at the very top end of its lineup.

The iPhone 16 Pro Max has previously been tipped to get a new 48-megapixel ultrawide camera while a telephoto lens upgrade has also been claimed.

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Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.