With the iPhone 15 and 15 Pro still four months from launch, the rumors are now coming in thick and fast for the following generation of Apple phones. The latest titbit is that while the iPhone 15 will retain the diagonal rear camera lens configuration used on the 13 and 14, the iPhone 16 will go back to the vertical arrangement from the 12. Clear?
Perhaps a picture will make things clearer.
When Apple first gave one of its smartphones dual rear camera lenses–this would be the iPhone 7 Plus in 2016–the company’s designers arranged these two lenses in a horizontal configuration, like a pair of eyes. But the very next year the company launched the iPhone X with the cameras arranged vertically, one above the other. It’s never been entirely clear why, but it evidently wasn’t a drastic necessity because the iPhone 8 Plus released only a month earlier had retained the horizontal configuration. Call me cynical but it’s possible that Apple simply wanted the iPhone X to look different from the back as well as the front, so that customers had a badge to show they had the latest model.
The vertical layout survived for several years. (On the standard models, at least. The new Pro line, beginning with the 11 Pro in 2019, had three rear cameras right from the start, and these have always been arranged in a triangle with two on the left and one on the right.) But in 2021 the iPhone 13 switched to a diagonal configuration. This has some advantages, most obviously that you can make the two circles tessellate more closely and thus fit in larger sensors without taking up too much space on the chassis, but again Apple didn’t reveal the specific rationale behind the change.
Whatever the rationale may have been, it appears to hold less significance now than it did in 2021, because a reputable leaker claims Apple is going to switch back to the vertical layout in 2024. The leaker is the Twitter user @URedditor, who also goes by Unknownz21. As AppleInsider notes, they have a fairly short but very solid track record, with at least one major coup in the past.
As the leaker points out, this would again serve to differentiate the 16 from its predecessor, although it’s unusual for Apple to do this by going back to an old design, in this case that of the iPhone 12. (The squared-off chassis design of the iPhone 12 did itself hark back to the look of the iPhone 4, but that was a positively vintage model that almost no one would be carrying around any longer. Plenty of people still have iPhone 12s.) However, in other respects the iPhone 16 will retain a more modern look, as the leaker clarifies in a follow-up tweet.
Of course, this being an iPhone 16 rumor in the year 2023, we cannot take anything for granted. We’ve yet to hear corroboration from another source, and the source concedes that Apple’s plans may change before the device comes out.