The standard iPhone 15 lineup has upgraded 48MP Main Cameras, a USB 2.0 Type C port, and the Dynamic Island. The external design didn't change much, but there's a lot to love about these new models, and there's still a mute switch.
● A16 Bionic
● 48MP camera
● Dynamic Island
● Starts at $799
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Apple revealed the iPhone 15 lineup during the Wonderlust event on September 12, 2023. The two standard models received multiple updates that brought them closer to an iPhone 14 Pro, but still not quite "pro."
There have been two tiers of iPhone since the iPhone 11 lineup with a separation between standard and pro models. How these tiers are separated has changed over time, but Apple tends to reserve its latest and most premium features for the pros.
For the 2023 lineup, Apple released three different feature sets across iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Pro, and iPhone 15 Pro Max. The iPhone 15 Plus is virtually identical to the smaller standard model except for its size.
iPhone 15 design
The iPhone mini is truly gone in 2023. The standard-sized 6.1-inch iPhone is accompanied by the 6.7-inch iPhone 15 Plus with no feature differences between the two.
Apple introduced the Dynamic Island to the standard models, so now the notch is no longer an option. The Dynamic Island is a software element that masks the sensor housing for Face ID and the selfie camera, and it shows Live Activity animations for apps.
The overall design didn't change much. The rear casing is identical, but the aluminum frame has a slightly rounded corner which should improve gripability.
The device still has a center aluminum frame that houses all of the integral components and motherboard in a separate space from the front and back glass. This increases reparability and keeps costs low if a user needs to replace the entire panel on either side.
The mute switch remains for standard models, which is situated above clickable, physical volume buttons. Rumors never panned out about capacitive buttons, but the mute switch did become an Action button on pro models.
iPhone 15 cameras
The Main Camera on iPhone 15 has an updated 48MP sensor that takes 24MP pixel-binned photos. This large sensor also enables a 2x telephoto on standard iPhones for the first time.
Photos taken with the 48MP sensor are outputted as 24MP HEIF images, which ensures both high contrast and resolution. Subjects detected within the camera like people and pets will automatically enable depth data to be captured without switching to Portrait mode.
The Ultra Wide camera is still 12MP and didn't gain any new features. Macro mode and other pro features are still reserved for Apple's high-end devices.
Move to USB-C on iPhone 15
Perhaps the biggest story about this product is the USB-C port. Apple finally transitioned the iPhone away from Lightning, but the port is still limited to USB 2.0 speeds for standard iPhones.
There isn't any MFi program to speak of, so users can use any cable or peripheral without any need for official certification. Charging speeds haven't changed either, so iPhone will still fast charge with a USB PD adapter at 20W or better.
Since USB-C is universal, users can connect other accessories like Apple Watch and AirPods directly to the iPhone's port to charge them from the battery. This will deplete the iPhone battery at a fast rate, but can provide a small bit of charge in a pinch.
iPhone 15 Processor
These models inherited the A16 Bionic from the iPhone 14 Pro, which improves performance somewhat compared to the iPhone 14. There's also a second-generation Ultra Wideband chipset for more precise finding at a distance, plus a Thread radio for improved HomeKit communication.
Customers worried about device speeds likely won't purchase the standard models like iPhone 15 Plus. Modern apps won't feel any different on recent Apple chipsets, but certain tasks may improve, especially those relying on the Neural Engine.
iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus review: A bigger step up than the iPhone 14 was
Apple shifted its strategy with how it handled upgrades and chipsets with iPhone 14, so it led to a less-than-stellar upgrade. The iPhone 15 corrects course, bringing a range of updates that make it worthwhile.
Since the Dynamic Island, A16 Bionic, and 48MP camera are now included in standard iPhone 15 models, it's much closer to the iPhone 14 Pro from 2022. By bringing last year's pro features to the standard model, it gives customers an upgrade path to pro-like features at a significant discount.
Highlights from this review
- Minimal design changes with color-infused glass and curved back edge, pastel pallet
- USB-C is on iPhone 15, but limited to 2.0 speeds and 20W fast charging
- Dynamic Island makes the display more modern
- 48MP Main Camera adds 24MP HEIF, 2x Telephoto to standard iPhone 15
- A16 Bionic with bonus GPU core has last year's pro performance
- Battery life on iPhone 15 appears similar to 2022 models
Read the full iPhone 15 review for a detailed evaluation and photos, or keep reading ahead for the summary. AppleInsider scored the iPhone 15 4 out of 5
iPhone 15 Review: Design
The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus are nearly indistinguishable from the iPhone 14 models the replace, at least when the display is off. The Dynamic Island masking the selfie camera and sensor array brings their design in-line with the rest of the lineup.
The rear glass has a textured matte finish with a contoured edge on the aluminum enclosure. It provides a good grip and nice feel, even though most people will cover these features with cases.
The reduced color saturation is noticeable and difficult to show in photos. It is a stark contrast to previous generations, which were much more vibrant by comparison.
Apple managed to shave off a little weight despite the device area being slightly larger. One of the biggest external design change, however, is USB-C.
iPhone 15 Review: USB-C
USB-C is finally on iPhone, but Apple's implementation for standard iPhones make it a one-to-one port swap rather than an improvement. The good news is, the same cable that charges your iPad or Mac now charges your iPhone.
Since USB-C is the shape of the cable, not the spec, it can contain a multitude of specs. Standard iPhones get USB 2.0 while pro models got USB 3.2 gen 2.
The time it takes to charge an iPhone didn't change either. The same 20W or greater adapter will charge an iPhone to 80% in half an hour.
Some would argue that the shift to USB-C is purely a move to satisfy the European Union, which isn't the case. It takes 20 to 30 months for Apple to plan such a significant design change for iPhone, placing this update planning well before the EU mandated it.
We're not sure how much difference the USB-C port will make for most users. It will require a cable swap, which is an irritant, but otherwise nothing changes for users. And the lack of USB 3 on standard models likely doesn't matter in a world where data syncs in the cloud.
iPhone 15 Review: Screens
Apple removed the notch in favor of hiding the sensor housing behind software called the Dynamic Island. This whimsical feature debuted on iPhone 14 Pro and is now part of every device in the lineup.
Another pro feature added to iPhone 15 is the bright OLED display. It can now operate at 1,000 nits maximum, 1,600 nits for HDR content, and 2,000 nits when outdoors.
One missing feature is a higher refresh rate. Apple didn't budge on its 60Hz display for standard iPhones, reserving 120Hz ProMotion for the pro models.
Though, arguably, anyone upgrading from standard iPhones won't miss a feature they never had. Not to mention that some people can't even reliably see the difference 120Hz makes.
iPhone 15 Review: Cameras
Apple's iPhone is one of the most popular cameras in the world, so it's no surprise that the company would bring its 48MP sensor to every model, eventually. By default, images captured at 1x are saved as 24MP HEIF with extended contrast, thanks to some machine learning wizardry.
The 48MP sensor also provides users with a new 2x option for capturing zoomed in 12MP images. It achieves this with a crop of the main sensor, but recreates the optical focal length with more ML.
The Ultra Wide camera and selfie camera remain unchanged. Customers buying the iPhone 15 over the pro models will likely get more than enough camera performance from this advanced camera system.
iPhone 15 Review: Performance
Apple's standard iPhones are on a year-ago chipset compared to the pro models going forward. However, when viewing chipsets purely from the standard iPhone user, each year is still a performance boost.
The A16 Bionic used in iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus is the same one found in iPhone 14 Pro. That's a six-core CPU with two performance and four efficiency cores that are more energy efficient.
The five-core GPU has 50% more memory bandwidth, which should translate to improved gaming experiences. Also, the 16-core Neural Engine is upgraded too at 17 trillion operations per second.
Average users won't care about benchmark scores, but our testing shows they are in line with iPhone 14 Pro and an improvement over A15 Bionic. Users upgrading every two to three years will see a significant performance boost.
Review: A neutered iPhone 14 Pro
Apple's new strategy of moving pro features down to the standard models each year is a solid one. While the iPhone 15 is closer to a lesser iPhone 14 Pro than a lesser iPhone 15 Pro, there's nothing wrong with that.
The target market for the iPhone 15 will get a decent upgrade from whatever aging model these customers are coming from. This is a solid mid-range iPhone that will be an incredible upgrade for iPhone 12 owners.
iPhone 15 price and release date
Pre-orders began on Friday, September 15 and the online inventory quickly ran out. Initial deliveries and in-store availability begin on September 22.
Apple didn't increase the price of the iPhone 15 and it still has the same storage tiers starting at 128GB. Customers can choose from blue, green, yellow, pink, or black color options.
The iPhone 15 rumor cycle
Everything below this point was written before Apple announced the iPhone 15 lineup. This information will remain as a record of what was rumored so it can be compared to what has been released.
Even though the iPhone 15 won't launch until September 2023, several hints about this device are already surfacing. Publicly filed patent applications, supply chain rumors, and features inferred from Apple's general product strategy paint a somewhat clear picture of the future product.
Apple's naming conventions aren't easy to predict because the infamous "s" could pop up for any annual iPhone release. Apple called the 2022 device iPhone 14, so we've chosen to refer to the 2023 model as "iPhone 15."
Alternatively, Apple could eschew numbers entirely in the coming years. The company's other product lines often go through name changes to address specific design alterations or other changes, so the iPhone could see that occur eventually. Suggestions for alternate names include "iPhone Pro" or "iPhone (2023)" to simplify naming.
One rumor suggests Apple will dump the "iPhone 15 Pro Max" name from its convention and switch to "iPhone 15 Ultra" for its biggest, most premium model. This change wouldn't be unheard of, especially now that the non-pro 6.7-inch iPhone is referred to as "Plus."
A more recent rumor suggests the Ultra name wouldn't replace a model, but be a whole new one in 2024. It would be the biggest and most premium iPhone, and may even lack a port of any kind.
iPhone 15 rumors
With the iPhone 15 launch drawing ever closer, more information is coming to light about this device lineup. Apple is expected to diversify its lineup further with differentiated features across the iPhone 15 Pro models, while the standard models will remain a bit more simple.
There have been multiple rumors surrounding color. Pro models could gain a dark red option and a blue hue with gray undertones.
New color options (Likely)
Near the end of the rumor cycle, rumors began pouring in about color options for both iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro. Both model sets may have more muted colors overall.
The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus could have blue, green, pink, silver, and black options. These colors appear to be very muted, as if the saturation was turned down from previous generations.
The iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max colors are also losing some saturation. Rumors show gold will be missing in favor of a natural titanium option. The other colors include space black, silver, and blue.
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End of the Lightning Port (Likely)
The iPhone 15 could finally be moving to USB-C after a decade of using the Lightning port. This aging port replaced the 30-pin connector and offered novelty features like a reversible port and a more water-tight enclosure.
Some customers have urged Apple to move to USB-C in the iPhone since the connector has become more ubiquitous. On the other hand, the prevalence of Lightning connectors across Apple's product line makes such a shift difficult. The number of iPhone users with Lightning ports in their iPhones, iPads, and AirPods far outnumber Mac users with USB-C ports.
Apple may be caught in another lose-lose situation for its PR team if the iPhone 15 shifts to USB-C. Like when it transferred from the 30-pin connector, it will face heavy scrutiny from customers and regulators alike.
Some locations haven't finished transitioning from the original iPhone connector, with gyms and other businesses still using equipment with 30-pin connectors. The same will be true for a transition from Lightning.
Supply chain analyst and sometimes leaker Ming-Chi Kuo shared that Apple may introduce USB-C to the iPhone 15 in 2023. It isn't clear if this is based on supply chain data or a leak, but he did say he took a survey. Presumably, the survey would have been taken from his supply chain consultants, but that isn't known.
The European Union has passed legislation that requires smartphone manufacturers to adopt the USB-C port as a uniform connector by 2024. However, the two-year deadline for the requirement gives Apple enough time to perfect another option entirely — going portless.
Rumors had previously indicated that Apple will remove all ports from its iPhone lineup in the near future, and USB-C will never make it onto iPhone. Those rumors haven't panned out, and it seems USB-C is going to happen in 2023 in at least the iPhone 15 Pro.
In late 2022, Apple is still releasing products with a Lightning port. The latest AirPods Pro 2 still use the connector despite rumors of Apple moving away from it in less than a year. The updated Siri Remote did shift to USB-C, a sign of the upcoming transition.
Rumors suggest that Apple could include Thunderbolt capabilities in the iPhone 15 Pro. That would enable the fast transfer of large files like ProRes video.
Even as the company moves to USB-C, it is expected to maintain the Made for iPhone (MFi) program. This would likely limit what third-party accessories and cables can do without Apple's MFi certification.
Return of Touch ID (Unlikely)
Touch ID was replaced by Face ID when Apple introduced the iPhone X. The reason for the move was to enable all-screen displays with no Home Button taking up prime real estate. Apple also said Face ID was much more secure than Touch ID, with a one million to one chance of a false positive unlock.
However, it wasn't a solution without its problems, as Face ID needed to see a user's eyes, nose, and mouth to unlock the device. This solved the problem of trying to unlock an iPhone with soiled fingers, but now users couldn't easily unlock their phones when covering their face for any reason.
When the pandemic struck, this created an unprecedented issue with Face ID as iPhone users around the globe donned masks. Users complained of the now-impeded unlocking process and demanded Apple bring back Touch ID as a solution.
Instead, Apple offered a compromise for Apple Watch owners. If Face ID detected the user was wearing a mask, it would verify if the Apple Watch was authenticated then unlock the iPhone. Of course, this solution applied only to Apple Watch wearers — a much smaller population than iPhone users.
Apple announced a new version of Touch ID for the iPad Air 4, and later the iPad mini 6, which moved Touch ID to the power button. This ramped up speculation that Apple would surely include Touch ID in the iPhone 13's power button, but to no avail.
Rumors and patents show that Apple has been working on a Touch ID solution for iPhone, but not in the power button. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo had believed that Apple would implement Touch ID under the display by 2023, but has since changed his prediciton. With advances in how Face ID detects faces with masks, Apple may not need to bring back Touch ID at all.
Android devices have used under-display fingerprint readers since at least 2018 to some success. But as with 120Hz display refresh, Apple likely wants the technology to be perfected before implementing it in their smartphone — if at all.
48MP cameras for all iPhone 15 models (Likely)
Ming-Chi Kuo shared a report on camera component orders in July 2023 that states all iPhone 15 models will get 48MP wide cameras. That means all users will benefit from pixel binning when capturing 12MP images — leading to a sharper, more detailed image.
Apple 5G Modem (Possible)
Apple's troubled history with modems has led the company to build its own. When Intel exited the modem business, Apple purchased it from under them.
In the interim, Apple has used Qualcomm to provide 5G modems to the iPhone. This renewed partnership may extend much longer than initially expected, as Apple has allegedly stopped development of in-house Wi-Fi and cellular chips.
Apple likes to control its device experience top to bottom, and including the modem in that stack may benefit the user. Not only will it be cheaper to use in-house modems, but Apple will also be better able to integrate modem technology into its custom Apple Silicon.
It is expected that Apple will resume development of its in-house wireless chipsets after the move to 3nm is completed for A17 and M3.
Apple A17 Bionic processor
The iPhone 15 lineup will get a new processor — at least the pro models will. The standard models will get the A16 Bionic used in the iPhone 14 Pro.
The A17 Bionic is expected to make a leap to the next processor manufacturing process from 5 nanometer to 3 nanometer. This will increase the power and efficiency of the processor.
A rumor suggests that the A17 will have 6 CPU and 6 GPU cores and will run at 3.70 GHz. This is an increase over the A16's 6-core CPU and a 5-core GPU.
Standard iPhone users will have to make do with the previous generation chipset.
Dynamic Island for all (Likely)
With the iPhone 14 release, it is easier to predict the trajectory of the 2023 iPhone lineup. Apple didn't opt for a redesign in its most recent models, instead, the display technology was upgraded, and cameras got bigger.
One major difference in the iPhone 14 Pro models is the Dynamic Island. The notch was replaced by a pill and hole punch sensor housing in the display. Rather than showing these separated elements, Apple connected them with a software element called Dynamic Island.
The feature is exclusive to pro models for now, but rumors suggest Apple will do away with the notch entirely in the "iPhone 15" lineup. This would mean every iPhone 15 would get the Dynamic Island in 2023.
Stacked batteries (Possible)
Apple could utilize stacked batteries in the iPhone 15 lineup, which would improve charging speeds and battery life. The overall capacity would increase thanks to less wasted space while simultaneously enabling less heat generation.
The technology is relatively new, but the rumor stems from an accurate source known for Android product leaks named @RgcloudS on Twitter. The leak was about Samsung products, but the leaker also referenced the upcoming iPhone lineup.
Sometimes Apple can announce new products, features, and operating system updates that can hint at what the next iPhone could do. Since a lot of iOS 17 features focus on improving existing system functions, it doesn't seem like there is much to infer.
Apple revealed the Apple Vision Pro, a mixed-reality headset that has a lot of unique functionality. Some rumors suggest Apple could tie new features to the headset through new iPhone 15 hardware improvements.
One example that has been shared is a new Ultra Wideband chip that would improve device location services for Apple Vision Pro. It would enable better tracking of the iPhone for displaying content in the space.
Another example is 3D image and video capture. One awkward moment of the headset reveal showed how people can capture photos and videos with the headset — which isn't ideal.
"iPhone 15" Price and Release Date
Predicting the price of a device that will be released so far in the future isn't exactly a science, but looking at Apple's pricing trends can give a hint. Apple didn't deviate from its usual pricing structure for iPhone 14, and it could do the same in 2023.
Apple is expected to announce its "iPhone 15" lineup in September 2023.