Samsung Galaxy S21 and s21 Ultra from the back showing the cameras
Samsung Samsung Galaxy S21 and s21 Ultra S21

OPINION: Apple has taken the wraps off its latest round of iPhones, with the iPhone 13 Pro and its larger Pro Max sibling sitting atop the pile. There are numerous updates. But one feature remains absent from the camera.

After a rather gorgeous redesign in 2020, this year’s iPhone was always going to be more of a modest upgrade, one mostly aimed at people who didn’t upgrade last year.

The big upgrades include a ProMotion display that can refresh at 120Hz for smoother navigation, a slightly smaller notch and improved videography skills .

The iPhone 13 Pro retains the same triple camera array as the iPhone 12 Pro, with wide, ultra wide and tele cameras. While I haven’t gotten the chance to take the new iPhone 13 Pro out for testing yet, it stands to reason that this will be a strong contender for the best camera phone – especially as it builds on the already excellent 12 Pro with an improved ultra wide camera.

One feature that remains missing across the entire iPhone 13 range though is a zoom camera to rival the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Whereas the flagship Samsung device can use its clever periscope zoom system to get very impressive shots even at 10x, the iPhone 13 Pro is far more limited with its 3x optical zoom.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Having a top-tier zoom lens is far from the most important part of the phone’s camera, but in my experience it adds huge amounts of versatility. I’ve been using the S21 Ultra heavily over the past few months and the sort of shots I have managed to achieve with those cameras give it a notable advantage over Apple’s devices. Being able to get clear shots at zoom levels where results from the iPhone turn into a blurry mess is very much welcome.

And with no huge upgrades to the zoom camera this time around, it looks like this is set to continue.

There have been rumours about Apple eventually going down a similar route to Samsung and launching a phone with a periscope lens for improved zoom skills. however this isn’t expected until next year at the earliest.

While some exceptional zoom skills might be missing, the iPhone 13 Pro camera still seems like a welcome upgrade. There’s a focus on macro photography and a new Cinematic video mode that was demoed with a clever Knives Out parody.

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