iPhone 15

iPhone 15
 
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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
● USB-C
● 2,500 nit OLED display
● MagSafe
● Wi-Fi 6E
● Programmable button replaces mute switch
● Periscoping camera system

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Even though the supposed "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 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."

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 pro models, while the standard models will remain a bit more simple.

Titanium curved edges and thin bezels (Likely)

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.

Curved titanium edges for the pro models Curved titanium edges for the pro models

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.

Rumors also suggest that the display bezel will be thinner than ever, though it will remain symmetrical thanks to the Dynamic Island. There isn't a lot of space to shrink the bezels further, but it could happen.

End of the Lightning Port (Likely)

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.

AirPods Pro 2 still use Lightning AirPods Pro 2 still use Lightning

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.

USB-C is coming to iPhone USB-C is coming to iPhone

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.

Portless (Unlikely)

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.

Apple could remove the Lightning port in the 'iPhone 15' Apple could remove the Lightning port in the 'iPhone 15'

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.

MagSafe could provide a data connection in the future MagSafe could provide a data connection in the future

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.

As we get closer to September 2023, it is becoming more clear that USB-C is coming to iPhone. The idea of a portless model isn't gone, but it will take a large leap in wireless technology to come to fruition.

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.

An in-screen fingerprint sensor has been rumored for the 2023 iPhone An in-screen fingerprint sensor has been rumored for the 2023 iPhone

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.

Periscoping Cameras (Likely)

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.

The periscope lens found within the Samsung S21 Ultra The periscope lens found within the Samsung S21 Ultra

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.

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. Rumors suggest the former.

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 (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.

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.

Dynamic Island makes the Face ID sensor housing into an interactive UI element Dynamic Island makes the Face ID sensor housing into an interactive UI element

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.

Two selfie cameras (Unlikely)

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 could mean improved portrait mode shots Two selfie cameras could mean improved portrait mode shots

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.

This rumor was shared early by a somewhat reliable source. It hasn't been repeated since, and more reliable leakers haven't mentioned it.

Capacitive buttons (unlikely)

Several rumors have suggested Apple wants to get rid of physical, pressable buttons. That includes the mute switch that's been on every iPhone so far.

The volume buttons would join into one large capacitive surface, and the power button would also become capacitive. In place of the mute switch would be a small capacitive button.

Physical buttons and a programmable 'Action' button are expected Physical buttons and a programmable 'Action' button are expected

These buttons would operate similarly to the capacitive Home Button that used a haptic engine to simulate a button press. Some expect the volume button to be controllable via sliding gestures as well.

The mute button could have a single function, but some hope Apple would open up its functionality to act similar to the Apple Watch Ultra's Action Button — programmable based on certain apps or conditions.

Multiple reliable sources have reported that Apple has backed away from capacitive buttons. It seems the iPhone 15 Pro models will instead have the standard buttons found on older models, but the mute switch may still be replaced with a programmable "Action" button.

Super bright OLED (Possible)

One rumor suggests that Samsung is working on releasing a new OLED display type that can support up to 2,500 nits. The current iPhone 14 Pro can output up to 2,000 nits in direct sunlight.

The basis of this rumor is loose at best. Samsung is allegedly working on this display type for use in its own smartphone lineup, and it isn't clear if it would be used in Apple's.

"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.

iPhone 15 Pro in red, gold, black, and silver iPhone 15 Pro in red, gold, black, and silver

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.

 

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