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What to expect from the iPhone 15 and more on September 12 – Ars Technica

This is the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, where the iPhone event will likely be hosted on September 12th.  It will most likely be a pre-recorded video.
Zoom in / This is the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, where the iPhone event will likely be hosted on September 12th. It will most likely be a pre-recorded video.

iPhone and Apple Watch together account for more than half of Apple’s business, and these two product lines are refreshed like clockwork each year around September.

The cat is already out of the bag for this year; Apple is expected to hold a live event on September 12 to announce the new iPhone and Watch lineup. And with the event just a few weeks away, we already know what to expect.

The iPhone’s long-rumored transition to USB-C tops the changes to come, but there’s more going on.

iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro

iPhone updates have been nothing if not frequent since the iPhone X shook things up in 2017. And that will remain very much the case with the iPhone 15 lineup.

And based on numerous reports and reports from journalists, analysts, and leakers, Apple plans to stick with the same core lineup. The company will announce the iPhone 15 with a 6.1-inch screen, the iPhone 15 Plus with a 6.7-inch screen, in addition to the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max of the same sizes.


The big news will be the switch from Apple’s own Lightning charging and data port (which iPhones have used since 2012) to the industry-standard USB-C. The EU and elsewhere seem to have forced Apple into it, but the company is likely to end up here eventually anyway.

The move to USB-C won’t add any major new features or anything, although some analysts have speculated that the Pro phones will support faster transfer speeds than before.

However, USB-C will make the iPhone and its accessories perform better in the larger consumer technology landscape, and eventually, it may mean that you need fewer types of cables in your drawer. I write “eventually” because people upgrading from older iPhones will likely need to purchase new cables, or at least some adapters, to make the transition.

New design (slightly).

And since the screen dimensions will remain the same, don’t expect anything too radical about the new iPhone 15 and 15 Pro designs.

The new iPhones will reportedly return to somewhat curved edges, moving away from the flat edges in the iPhone 4-inspired design we’ve had for a while.

Last year, Apple replaced the camera notch at the top of the screen with a “Dynamic Island” on the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max. The dynamic island makes the most of the space that needs to be reserved for front-facing cameras and sensors by placing a revolving door of dynamic widgets there. This year, leakers said, this feature will be found across the entire lineup, not just the Pro models.

Pictured below: Different behaviors of the dynamic island in last year’s iPhone 14 Pro.

However, there will still be some design features of the Pro in the iPhone lineup. The Pro phones are said to have slimmer bezels with a sleeker curve in the corners. They will still be distinguished from their non-Professional siblings with different case materials, but that material is changing.

Recent iPhone Pro models feature stainless steel edges, while the standard iPhones are made of aluminum. The iPhone 15 and 15 Plus will stick to aluminum, but the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max will switch to titanium. Titanium is lighter than stainless steel, which may address some consumer complaints that high-end iPhones tend to be heavier than alternatives.

Processor and cameras

You can bet that the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max will introduce a new iteration in Apple’s A-series CPU, GPU, and Neural Processing Unit. Typically, we expect 10 to 30 percent faster performance with each iteration, and we sometimes see energy efficiency improvements that allow for somewhat better battery life as well.

Not much is known about changes to the iPhone cameras, but there is a rumor that the iPhone 15 Pro Max (and only that) will get a new lens capable of zooming up to 5x or 6x, compared to 3x for the current model.

The wonder of USB-C: AirPods, cables, and more

The iPhone’s transition to USB-C will have far-reaching effects across accessories offered by Apple and third parties. It seems like the old cases just won’t work with the new design, so expect a slew of new ones.

Apple will likely introduce new cables and adapters to make the change easier, including new EarPods, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see the AirPods or AirPods Pro replace Lightning with a USB-C port.

Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra

First, here’s what you can’t expect from the Apple Watch Series 9: a new design. It will likely look exactly like its predecessor, with a more substantial rework scheduled for 2024 instead, according to a recent Bloomberg report. As such, it will still be available in 41mm and 45mm sizes, and will still work with existing bands.

The only change we think you can bet on is the inclusion of a new chip called the S9, which should bring some improvements in performance and power efficiency. Of course, you can count on Apple selling some new colors or bands as well.

We don’t know anything about the new health tracking features in the series, and there probably won’t be any.

The same applies to the Apple Watch Ultra; We haven’t heard anything substantive from any reliable sources in the rumor mill. This will be the device’s first update since its launch last year, assuming it gets an update. In the case of Ultra, it’s more a case of “we don’t know anything either way” than “we think there won’t be anything”.

Below: Glimpses of the Oceanic+’s diving features, one of the selling points Apple highlighted when it introduced the Apple Watch Ultra last year.

We will not rely on any updates whatsoever for the Apple Watch SE; Apple seems to update this low-end option less frequently than the flagship series, and it just got an update last year.

iOS 17 and other OS updates

Apple will almost certainly announce public release dates for its operating systems for both the newer and older iPhone and Watch devices. These release dates will likely be in mid-September, just days after the event itself.

Most of the details about Apple’s OS updates were already revealed at the company’s developer conference in June, and you can read our coverage of the iOS 17 and watchOS 10 announcements for details.

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