There are iPhone models that have one, two, and even three rear cameras and Apple still sells all of these configurations. Since smartphones are the most commonly used devices for taking pictures and videos, this is an important detail to know before purchasing an iPhone. So far, none have four rear cameras but sometimes there’s another sensor that looks similar as well as the LED flash. It’s not always easy to tell which are the cameras, even when it’s possible to look at the back.

While every iPhone has the ability to zoom in, some have a camera dedicated to that purpose and include a telephoto lens. The iPhone 7+ released in 2016 was the first model to include a telephoto camera and the first to offer two rear cameras. The other end of the range is an ultra-wide lens and the iPhone 11 was the first to have this capability, which started a trend with competing smartphone manufacturers often including ultra-wide cameras on their new devices.

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Any iPhone that has three cameras would include the main camera, which is considered a wide lens, an ultra-wide, and a telephoto lens. Apple‘s very first models to have this large of a zoom range were the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max, allowing 0.5 times ultra-wide photos that capture one entire side of a room or 2 times zoom at the telephoto end for closeups and portrait photos. The iPhone 12 Pro offered the exact same range, while the iPhone Pro Max extended to a 2.5 times zoom. The latest Pro models, the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max reach even further with a 3 times optical zoom. The bottom line is that only iPhone models that include ‘Pro’ in their name have three cameras.

iPhone Zoom Details

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Camera Closeup Gold

For iPhone models that don’t have a telephoto lens, the only way to zoom is with digital zoom and while that is better than it once was, the photos are usually not the best quality. Rather than sharing a digital zoom picture, it’s better to simply move closer to the subject when that’s possible. Obviously, snapping a photo of a bird in a tree might benefit from some zoom, even if it has to be digital. Without an ultra-wide camera, the only way to capture a larger view is with a panorama. The iPhone has a nice panorama mode that works with a slow pan across the area and it takes only a brief time for converting this into a very wide view.

If an iPhone has multiple rear cameras, there’s also an option to have some control over the aperture since the iPhone’s telephoto and ultra-wide lenses have smaller apertures than the main cameras. Smaller apertures tend to increase the depth of field, while requiring a slower shutter speed, resulting in more of a scene being in focus at once but moving objects showing more motion blur. iPhone owners with multiple cameras have more control over not only zoom range but several other finer details as well.