Experiment: Apple iPhone 15 Pro’s 28mm and 35mm modes are just digital crops


Apple dedicated a few moments from its nearly 1-hour iPhone 15 presentation to the new Pro models’ custom 28mm and 35mm shooting modes. Technically, you get a cropped 28mm or 35mm portion from the native 24mm primary lens and you get it in the same 24MP resolution as the default 24mm images. Apple says that with the iPhone 15 Pro, « it’s like having seven pro lenses in your pocket ».

It’s a convenient feature for those who prefer a focal length narrower than 24mm. You tap the 1x mode in the camera to go to 28mm (1.2x) and once again to 35mm (1.5x). You can even make either the default camera focal length, which is extra convenient.

Are the new 28mm and 35mm modes on the iPhone 15 Pro better than digitally cropping?

But is Apple doing more than just cropping the image and upscaling it back to its original size? We made a little experiment to find out.

Before we set off, here are the default 24mm shots of both scenes from the iPhone 15 Pro Max.


The default 24mm focal length - f/1.8, ISO 80, 1/10417s - Apple iPhone 15 Pro cameras
The default 24mm focal length - f/1.8, ISO 80, 1/5814s - Apple iPhone 15 Pro cameras

The default 24mm focal length

The images on the left are the 28mm captured by the iPhone’s native camera app and outputted in the default 24MP. We manually cropped the shots on the right and upscaled them up to 24MP using Photoshop’s Preserve Details 2.0 resampling method. Looking at the results side-by-side, we’d say there isn’t a discernible difference between Apple’s 28mm shot and our simple crop-and-upscale.


Default 28mm - f/1.8, ISO 80, 1/10417s - Apple iPhone 15 Pro cameras
Cropped and upscaled 28mm - f/1.8, ISO 80, 1/10417s - Apple iPhone 15 Pro cameras
Default 28mm - f/1.8, ISO 80, 1/5814s - Apple iPhone 15 Pro cameras
Cropped and upscaled 28mm - f/1.8, ISO 80, 1/5814s - Apple iPhone 15 Pro cameras

Native camera 28mm • Cropped and upscaled 28mm

Don’t forget to tap the compare button below the samples to get a 100% zoomed-in look for yourselves.

It’s the same story with the 35mm images. Seemingly all Apple does here is crop the 24mm shot and bump the resolution back up to 24MP, applying some sharpening along the way. There is no fancy computational photography going on here.


Default 35mm - f/1.8, ISO 80, 1/10417s - Apple iPhone 15 Pro cameras
Cropped and upscaled 35mm - f/1.8, ISO 80, 1/10417s - Apple iPhone 15 Pro cameras
Default 35mm - f/1.8, ISO 80, 1/5814s - Apple iPhone 15 Pro cameras
Cropped and upscaled 35mm - f/1.8, ISO 80, 1/5814s - Apple iPhone 15 Pro cameras

Native camera 35mm • Cropped and upscaled 35mm

So there you go – it’s like having three actual lenses and four crop modes for a total of seven focal lengths. There’s no denying the convenience that Apple provides. We’re sure many (including some here at team GSMArena) will happily use a narrower default focal length for the native camera. But it’s not magic and comes at the expense of image quality. It’s also something others have done for years – Samsung’s default zoomed-in selfie, which expands when it sees more people in the frame.

This is just one observation we’ve made as we work on our review of the iPhone 15 Pro Max. Stay tuned for a deeper dive into Apple’s best phone ever!

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