Hands on with the new iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro designs
We got our hands on an exclusive set of mockup iPhone 15 units — complete with working buttons. Here's how the design changes and features compare to the iPhone 14 lineup.
In our hands, we have all of Apple's 2022 iPhones alongside models of the purported 2023 models, including the iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro, and iPhone 15 Pro Max. As demonstrated, screen sizes will likely remain the same with two measuring 6.1 inches and two measuring in at 6.7 inches.
Incredibly detailed mockups of the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro
These iPhone 15 units are individually machined mockups used by manufacturers to test their cases and accessories before the new iPhone's launch. They're very precisely crafted, down to the hundredth of a millimeter in each dimension.
Compared to the plastic dummies we usually see later in the year, these all-metal models are quicker to manufacture out of a single block of aluminum.
These units give us a good idea of what to expect in terms of overall size, changes to the camera module, updated buttons, and which port is being used.
Our models use the latest CAD images available, the one's accessories makers are already using to create iPhone 15 accessories and will likely be what the new lineup looks like when it unveils later this year.
Because these are non-working dummies, we can't glean any internal or software changes. We still expect to see the A17 Bionic processor on the Pro models, but we can't confirm that with these dummies.
Changes for the whole iPhone 15 lineup
Before we get to the model-on-model changes, let's explore changes coming to the entire iPhone 15 lineup.
The first thing that jumped out to us was the feel of the devices. The new iPhone 15 models all had more rounded edges.
They nestled more easily into your hand and lacked the sharp right angles of the iPhone 14 lineup. They aren't as beveled as the iPhone X and iPhone 11, but in the middle.
As has been rumored for some time, there is a USB-C port instead of Lightning on all iPhone 15 models.
The port is visibly bigger than the old Lightning port and when we tested it with a USB-C cable, it fit like a glove. A Lightning cable did not fit correctly.
iPhone 14 vs iPhone 15
If we start with Apple's entry-level devices. There appears to be no physical size difference from the iPhone 14 Plus to the iPhone 15 Plus.
When held face-to-face, they occupy the same footprint and are just thick. The same doesn't go for the iPhone 14, though, as the iPhone 15 is slightly taller by maybe a millimeter or less.
The camera bump on the iPhone 15 remains the same size though the lenses protrude slightly more, indicating some change to the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus cameras.
It's only a guess, but the iPhone 15 dummies show an outline of the screen and don't point to any notch. That could back up rumors that all iPhone 15 models will get the Dynamic Island this year, ditching the notch.
Otherwise, the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus look nearly identical to their 2022 counterparts. Yes, that includes the buttons down the side.
iPhone 14 Pro vs iPhone 15 Pro
Both iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max have more changes when compared to the 15 and 15 Plus. Notably, the side buttons have changed. The individual volume buttons are now a new long piece of metal that can rock up or down.
The mute toggle switch got swapped for a tiny new button. The button presses and isn't a solid-state button.
Apple could theoretically open this button up to users similarly to the Action Button on the Apple Watch Ultra to add more functionality.
For the cameras, there is a sizable change year-over-year. The camera lenses are the same overall height when measured from the front of the phone, but the whole camera module has expanded.
The base of the bump and the height of the bump is now larger. Because the base is bigger, it makes the lenses technically stick out less.
It isn't as ridiculous a change as some of the early rumors suggested though it did grow.
We also compared the iPhone 15 Pro and the iPhone 15 Pro Max cameras. They appear to be physically identical, though new rumors suggested that the periscope lens will be exclusive to the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
If this rumor is accurate, it isn't discernible from the physical camera dimensions.
When comparing the physical size of the iPhone 15 Pro to the 14 Pro, the new phone is thicker but narrower and shorter. This means that the iPhone 15 Pro fits in an iPhone 14 Pro case, but slides right out because of the smaller dimensions.
It isn't a lot thinner and shorter, less than a millimeter. When holding them both, the new phone feels smaller because of the size and the rounded bezels.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max had the same changes, a millimeter shorter and narrower, but half a millimeter thicker.
iPhone 15 — Available in September 2023
Aside from the thickness changes, the updated cameras, the port, and the new side buttons, these very much look like iPhones. They look and feel like nearly all iPhones that came before them.
Apple doesn't want to ditch its widely recognizable design. It may not be until the rumored iPhone Fold that we see any substgantial change in the iPhone design.
Other features we still expect to see for iPhone 15 include brighter OLED displays for the pro series, Wi-Fi 6E, the A17 Bionic processor, and a possible new titanium chassis.
If history holds, Apple will announce the new iPhone 15 lineup at a streamed media event in early September