The new iPhone 15 series smartphones go up for pre-order September 15 for $799 and up, and the phones will be available starting a week later on September 22.
Apple says the new phones bring big improvements to the cameras, processors, and, in the case of the iPhone 15 Pro, a new Titanium frame that results in sturdier phones that weigh less than their predecessors. But one of the biggest changes? Goodbye Lighting port, hello USB-C.
Apple is spinning the move to USB-C as a good thing for customers, because not only has USB-C become a widely adopted standard, but it’s one that even Apple has already adopted for recent iPad and MacBook products. That means you’ll be able to charge an iPhone, MacBook, or iPhone 15 using the same cable and power adapter.
But it also means that folks who’ve been using Lightning chargers and other accessories will need to buy new gear. And it also means there’s one less thing differentiating iPhones from other smartphones, which could theoretically make it a little easier for iPhone users to jump ship to Android.
And really? It’s likely that the only reason Apple is putting USB-C ports on its iPhones is that the European Union will require all new phones sold in that region to have USB-C ports by the end of next year (if they have charging ports at all). So either Apple was going to have to go all-in on wireless charging or the company had to put USB-C ports on some of its iPhones. And rather than maintain different products for Europe and for the rest of the world, the company went all-in on USB-C.
All told, there are six new phones in the iPhone 15 series:
- iPhone 15: 6.1 inch phone with Apple A16 processor for $799 and up
- iPhone 15 Plus: 6.7 inch phone with Apple A16 for $899 and up
- iPhone 15 Pro: 6.1 inch Titanium phone with A17 Pro for $999 and up
- iPhone 15 Pro Max: 6.7 inch Titanium phone with A17 Pro and 5X telephoto zoom for $1,199 and up
Apple says all of the new phones feature new 48MP primary cameras, which can snap detailed 48MP pictures in brightly lit settings, but which will default to 24MP images under normal circumstances by using a mix of quad-pixel tech and computational photography to capture more light while still getting 2X the resolution you’d normally get from a quad-pixel camera like this.
You can also snap 12MP images that are effectively 2X optical zoom pictures due to cropping. And this feature also enables support for smooth zooming between 1X and 2X in video recordings.
All of the phones also have 12MP ultra-wide cameras, and the iPhone 15 Pro has a 3X telephoto zoom camera while the iPhone 15 Pro Max has a 5X telephoto camera. The iPhone 15 Pro series cameras also support spatial video recording.
Apple equips the phones with AMOLED displays featuring up to 2000 nits peak brightness outdoors or up to 1600 nits peak HDR brightness, plus a ceramic shield that protects the screen.
There’s also a new Action button that can be customized to trigger different functions (this is basically the old mute button that’s been configured with more options).
The iPhone 15 and 15 Plus are powered by the same Apple A16 processor used in last year’s iPhone 14 Pro series phones, while the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max get a new Apple A17 Pro chip that the company says brings:
- 10% faster CPU performance
- 2X faster AI performance
- 20% faster GPU performance, hardware-accelerated ray tracing, AV1 decoding, and efficiency improvements
The iPhone 15 Pro phones also have a new USB3 controller that offers data transfer speeds up to 10 Gbps for the first time in an iPhone. Apple says the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus still top out at Lightning/USB2 speeds (up to 480MB/s).
Apple still isn’t including a power adapter in the box with its phones, but if you pick up the company’s 20W USB-C charger for $19, it should be able to give any of the new smartphones a 50% charge in 30 minutes. The phones actually support up to 27W charging, but you may need a third-party power adapter for that, since Apple doesn’t offer its own yet.
The phones also support Qi wireless charging and Apple’s MagSafe wireless charging system, but it looks like Apple figures the world’s not ready to go all-in on wireless charging yet, thus the USB-C ports.