iPhone 15 Pro Max teardown shows periscope camera and more

iFixit has shared a video of its iPhone 15 Pro Max teardown, with the periscope camera and its 5x telephoto lens the key new thing to see.

The company also found the new titanium casing is vulnerable to scratches, and that Apple has further extended the parts pairing that makes DIY repairs more difficult …

No surprise that it’s no easier to get into than its predecessor.

As always, our teardown adventures start with a couple of proprietary Pentalobe screws designed to keep you out. The usual process of heating the screen and using suction to separate the glass from the adhesive still applies.

In theory, it’s now easier to replace the battery, but attempting this new approach proved unsuccessful.

With the screen off, we can move on to the next most common repair: the battery. The battery has three hard-to-reach pull tabs tucked away inside the well. My first attempt to get to one of the bottom pull tabs, the Apple way no less, ends in failure.

We’re going to need to remove the lower assembly to get to these. It’s not a huge lift to remove the speaker and Taptic Engine but it would have been nice if we could reach those pull tabs without removing another 10 screws.

The camera module is, however, easier to remove.

There are a lot of cables to disconnect but the camera assembly itself is easy to remove. Just three Phillips screws to remove, and they’re much less flimsy and delicate than I’ve seen before. In fact, most of the screws are on the beefier side, which makes them easier to handle.

This reveals the new periscope camera.

The big upgrade for the cameras this year is undoubtedly the tetraprism periscope lens, finally upping the iPhone’s optical zoom from 2x to 5x.

It’s not as much as the S23 Ultra’s 10x, but the way Apple’s engineers achieved it is particularly interesting. Instead of opting for a series of lens elements controlled by electro-magnets, they designed a single element tetraprism periscope which reflects light multiple times in order to simulate a 120mm equivalent focal length.

Aside from the new periscope lens, the sensors on the 15 Pro Max main and wide cameras seem to be the same size as last year’s 14 Pro Max—suggesting any improvement in image quality has more to do with the new A17 SoC than the camera hardware itself.

The company says that the logic board appears “nearly” identical to that of the smaller iPhone 15 Pro.

Early drop and durability tests seem to indicate that the titanium frame makes the iPhone 15 more fragile than its predecessors, and iFixit also found it to be easily scratched.

They’re using titanium because it makes the phone 18 grams lighter and titanium sounds cool. Unfortunately for the cool factor, we found that the color on the titanium shell scratches easily, a process that is only satisfying under the magnificent magnification of the microscope kindly loaned to us by Evident Scientific. I could scratch this thing up all day.

iFixit also noted that the highly controversial practice of parts pairing has now been extended to the LiDAR scanner. We previously explained how this works.

As of the iPhone 12, Apple introduced a practice known as parts pairing, or serialization. This is where the serial number of a component (like a screen) is digitally paired to the serial number of the iPhone itself. Even if you swap one genuine Apple component for another, the repair won’t fully work because the pairing won’t match. With the iPhone 13, for example, a screen-swap would cause Face ID to stop working.

iFixit dramatically reduced its repairability rating of the iPhone 14 after considering the impact of this practice.

Check out the full iPhone 15 Pro Max teardown video below.

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