iPhone 15 camera gets auto portrait mode, better low-light performance, and more

Apple is promising major upgrades to the camera's hardware and software this time around.

Apple spent a lot of time at its recent Wonderlust event touting the features of the upgraded cameras on its new iPhone 15 series, and for good reason, they're a major step up from what the company is offering on the iPhone 14.

First, the iPhone 15 sports a new 48-megapixel sensor, replacing its predecessor's old 12-megapixel sensor. The main camera will output 24-megapixel photos by default, which Apple says will deliver "incredible" image quality without taking up too much space. Additionally, the sensor can also crop its middle 12-megapixels for a 2x telephoto option. All told, the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus offer three levels of zoom (0.5x, 1x, and 2x), a first for the company's more affordable phone lineup. As before, there's a separate wide-angle camera for when you want to capture as much of the scene as possible.

The new hardware is supported by enhancements to Apple's computational photography software. For example, you don't need to switch to the camera app's dedicated portrait mode to take bokeh photos. When you tap on a subject, iPhone 15 will automatically capture depth information, which can then be used to add background blur to the image. You can even adjust the focus of your photo after taking it. Apple has also made improvements to Night Mode, promising sharper details and more vivid colors. Additionally, the company's Smart HDR feature can now handle uneven lighting better.

Of course, iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max offer all the photography enhancements of iPhone 15 and more. Apple says it offers the equivalent of seven professional lenses in its new flagship. The 48-megapixel main camera on the iPhone 15 and 15 Pro Max allows users to switch between 24mm, 28mm, and 35mm focal lengths. Additionally, both phones feature a new telephoto camera that offers 5x optical zoom at 120mm. That's less zoom than some other phones, but it's the most zoom Apple has ever offered on one of its devices. The company says the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max also feature state-of-the-art optical image stabilization thanks to a new prism design.

Later this year, Apple will update both phones to add support for spatial video capture, a feature that will come in handy once the company's upcoming Vision Pro headphones become available. The entire iPhone 15 range will be available for pre-order on Friday, September 15, and will be available in stores on September 22.