The "iPhone 15" won't launch until the fall of 2023, but rumors are already circulating about the future product. It could introduce the Dynamic Island to every iPhone model rather than just pro devices. Also, Apple is expected to use USB-C instead of Lightning.
● 2023 iPhone
● A17 chip
● Wi-Fi 6E
● Dynamic Island with two selfie cameras
● Periscoping camera system
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Even though the supposed "iPhone 15" won't launch until late 2023, several hints about this device are already surfacing. Publicly filed patent applications, early supply chain rumors, and features inferred from Apple's general product strategy can 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 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 "Pro Max" name from its convention and switch to "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."
Known "iPhone 15" Rumors
Apple may have just announced the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro lineups, but that doesn't stop the rumor mill. New information about upcoming devices is always pouring in from supply chain sources and industry analysts.
Titanium curved edges
The rim around iPhone 15 Pro models could be made from titanium and feature a rounded edge design similar to the MacBook Pro lineup. The back edge would curve slightly as it meets the back glass panel.
This material change from stainless steel could decrease the weight of the phone significantly. Apple could choose to polish the titanium and have a similar finish to the existing stainless steel rim.
End of the Lightning Port
The iPhone 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 is caught in another lose-lose situation for its PR team. 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 previous 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 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 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.
Since their inception, having a physical connector for transferring power and data has been a staple of portable electronics. Despite that, Apple may ditch the physical connector entirely in favor of alternatives like MagSafe charging, Qi charging, wireless data transfer, and smart connectors.
There aren't many apparent reasons why Apple would want to ditch a physical connector, but like the headphone jack before it, the company may be seeking more internal space for components. In addition, while a USB-C port can be waterproofed, having no connector at all would ensure improved water integrity.
For Apple to achieve a portless iPhone, it must first offer users suitable alternatives. The port is currently used for many accessories, from SD card dongles to musical recording equipment. Apple isn't likely to entirely remove such vital functionality from iPhone, though customers may have to pay for a new adapter.
Even Apple's own CarPlay uses the physical port to connect. Unfortunately, most modern vehicles don't come standard with wireless CarPlay, so again, Apple will have to address those customers. An obvious half-step solution would be to include a magnetic Smart Connector like on some iPad models.
Rumors of a Smart Connector coming to iPhone have circulated since the connector's inception on the first iPad Pro in 2015. Although the three-prong connection supports some data transfer, it isn't suitable for large files or streams of information.
Apple's MagSafe accessory system for iPhone is another possible solution. Though the current iteration only supports power transfer on the iPhone 13, a future version could include some data transfer elements.
Of course, Apple could decide to leave behind legacy use cases and tout its multiple iPhone models that still sport the Lightning connector for legacy customers. Alternatively, by 2023, Bluetooth accessories, AirPlay, wireless data transfer, and other tools could be advanced enough to remove a physical connector. Although, there will always be a group adversely affected by such a move, like developers.
Return of Touch ID
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 believes that Apple will implement Touch ID under the display by 2023. The technology was originally targeted for iPhone 14 but has been delayed to the "iPhone 15."
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 Apple is to bring back Touch ID to its premium iPhone lineup, the earliest it could arrive is 2022, though Kuo says it is expected in 2023.
A new camera system could be used on the "iPhone 15" to enable more optical zoom. The iPhone could have a much longer zoom by utilizing a folding camera system within the device to put more space between the lens and the sensor. It isn't clear if this would replace Apple's existing Telephoto lens or add a fourth lens with this capability.
While the iPhone 14 Pro can zoom to 3x, a 77mm equivalent, that isn't too distant a zoom. The 77mm focal length is great for portraits or getting closer to a relatively close subject, but it still isn't enough for wildlife photography or sporting events. Those situations require much longer lenses to capture the subject.
Samsung utilizes periscoping and algorithms to enable clear capture of subjects at 100x magnification. Thanks to the long lens hidden away within the phone's body, this is possible. Apple has been testing such a lens for future iPhones, but it isn't clear if or when it will be implemented.
Like in-display Touch ID, Ming-Chi Kuo predicted this technology would emerge in the "iPhone 14" but pushed that prediction back to the 2023 iPhone. Such technology needs space within a device to operate, so other space-saving features like removing the Lightning port could coincide with its release.
Kuo released another report in December 2021, restating that the "iPhone 15" may have a periscope lens system. It is still unclear if this is an upgrade to the existing telephoto lens or if it will be included as a new fourth lens.
According to supply chain reports released in April 2022, multiple manufacturers have been tapped to produce components needed for a periscope camera system. The components are allegedly on order for use in the "iPhone 15."
Apple 5G Modem
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.
"iPhone 15 Fold"
The foldable market is new and still fighting many problems associated with the technology. From creased displays to poorly optimized software, it is still early days. Apple doesn't enter a market until it can ensure the usual quality the company proudly promotes.
An "iPhone Fold" could arrive in 2024 as an ultra-premium in the "iPhone 15" lineup. It would be Apple's most expensive iPhone to date, likely sitting around $1,500 for the base model.
Patents show Apple has worked hard to develop technology specific to folding devices. They range from new hinge technology to folding batteries and bendable displays.
Little is known about Apple's plans for the foldable iPhone or if it will ever see the light of day. Ming-Chi Kuo believes Apple will release the device in 2024 or later.
Dynamic Island for all
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 would get the Dynamic Island in 2023.
There may be more for the Dynamic Island to cover on the updated iPhone. Rumors suggest one model may have two selfie cameras, though the use case is unknown.
Two selfie cameras may create an issue for the Dynamic Island software, as smaller devices will quickly run out of space to show app information on either side of the hardware. Apple could move more sensors under the glass and shrink the size of the housing to allow two cameras to fit neatly, but it isn't yet clear if that is its approach.
"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 as long as the economy doesn't drastically change, it could do the same in 2023.
Apple could introduce a new storage tier at 2TB for the iPhone to make space for its increasingly demanding features like ProRes video. That could bring an iPhone's price dangerously close to $2,000. Also, "iPhone 15 Fold" would be sold as an ultra-premium model and likely start at around $1,499.
Apple is expected to announce its "iPhone 15" lineup in September 2023.