The iPhone 15: The real reason you should be excited for

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This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.

We are fast approaching some of the most important flagship smartphone launches of 2023. While I am personally much more excited for the Google Pixel Fold, the real showstopper will almost invariably be the iPhone 15 lineup in September.

Love it or hate it, Apple has the sort of clout that makes any announcement from the Cupertino company headline-worthy. Hence, even now, almost half a year before the actual launch, the news cycle is flooded with leaks concerning the iPhone 15 and, in particular, the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max.



For the sake of consistency, I will be referring to the 6.7” high-end iPhone as the iPhone 15 Pro Max, because recent rumors indicate that the Ultra rebranding will be happening at a later stage, possibly in 2024 with the iPhone 16.

The thing is, I cannot help but feel as if the next iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max will be marketed as groundbreaking, as is the norm when it comes to new Apple products, but for all the wrong reasons. In fact, the one thing that will make the iPhone 15 a big deal is likely going to be the feature Apple is least keen on implementing.

In the following paragraphs, I will give my take on why all of the flashy new additions to the high-end iPhones this year are not the real thing Apple users should be excited about. I will focus on the Pro versions, because the vanilla iPhones tend to receive much more incremental updates year-on-year.

How will the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max be different?


That being said, I should mention that the standard iPhones will be dropping the “notch” in favor of the Dynamic Island. Nevertheless, this transition pales in comparison to all the updates Apple reportedly has in store for its Pro iPhones. Now would be the time to mention that this article is mostly based on preliminary information which, despite being reliable, is still subject to change. The same disclaimer applies to the renders which I have used for illustrative purposes, courtesy of 9to5Mac.  

New design, New materials and… a red iPhone Pro


The first thing that I want to bring up is that the high-end iPhone 15 models will be adopting a new design that draws heavy inspiration from Apple’s new 14” and 16” MacBook Pros. The curved edges coupled with the new brushed finish will set the next iteration apart from its predecessors.

A new aesthetic is one of the things that never fails to draw the attention not only of the tech community, but of the everyday consumer as well. Hence, the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max are already off to a good start - they will surely be talked about purely because of the fact that they look different. This will make the devices appear as big upgrades regardless of whether that is actually the case.

Granted, the new design has a number of benefits that make it all the more meaningful. The titanium frame will likely be sturdier than the stainless steel one found on the current Pro iPhones, and the rounded corners will help with ergonomics. The slimmer bezels will actually contribute to a more compact footprint. Lastly, on a more shallow note, the new exclusive red color that will be replacing Deep Purple looks stunning.


Not as new buttons as Apple would like


Most rumors pointed to the possible implementation of solid-state buttons on the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. Essentially, instead of the typical mechanical ones, the buttons on the two Pro iPhones were supposed to function similarly to the MacBook’s trackpad (i.e. the pressing sensation would have been created through haptic feedback even though the hardware does not move).

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I am still not all that certain whether that is a good idea. Indeed, such technology could make the iPhone more durable and enable the implementation of pressure sensitivity. However, we all know the fate of 3D Touch - pressure sensitivity is simply not as useful on the iPhone as it is on the MacBook.



Furthermore, the lack of a mechanical switch paves the way for a number of self-made problems such as how the iPhone would be turned on and how it will be hard reset if iOS freezes. Admittedly, Apple will be able to address these issues, but should it?

Cupertino’s answer will probably be a resounding ‘yes’. Apple’s ultimate goal for the iPhone is a buttonless, port-less slab of glass and metal, and this is a definitive step in that direction. For better or worse, however, based on recent leaks, we will have to wait an extra year for solid state buttons.

 

Even so, what we will be getting this year is an all-new programmable action button similar to the one found on the Apple Watch Ultra. This is actually a very interesting addition, and while I am sad to see the iconic mute switch go, this design choice opens up a plethora of interesting possibilities

Does this matter though?

I think it goes without saying that the Cupertino company will make a big deal out of the new solid state buttons, when they arrive. It will likely do the same with the action button, design and slimmer bezels. But is this the real reason why we should be excited about the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max?

Looks versus Substance: The real selling points of the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max


Internals: Specs still matter


Call me old-fashioned, but I still believe a smartphone’s chipset is one of its most important features. The A17 promises to finally bring 3nm architecture to Apple’s iPhones. It should be noted that the A16 is already grossly overpowered, especially within the context of iOS, but it would be interesting to see how much of an improvement the A17 chip really is.

Not least because Qualcomm has recently managed to partially narrow the gap between its high-end Snapdragon SoCs and those powering Apple’s iPhones. Even if it only comes down to bragging rights, based on (sometimes misleading) benchmarks, the ultimate question is whether Apple can keep its crown when it comes to performance. And when / if we will see an Android device on top of the Geekbench charts again. This might not be important for everyday consumers, but it holds symbolic value in the world of mobile tech.

Another big upgrade that warrants a mention is the potential addition of a periscope lens to the iPhone 15 Pro Max. For reference, the latter works by extending the distance light travels within the camera module thus facilitating increased optical zoom.



Now would be the time to assert that this update is not only significant for the mobile photography enthusiasts out there. Android flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra have featured periscope lenses for quite some time. Putting the iPhone 15 Pro Max on a leveled playing field in that department is incredibly important, especially when the camera is increasingly becoming a main selling point of many flagships.

But there is one last thing that I have to mention… the upgrade that I would like to draw your attention to is neither revolutionary, nor will it make Apple happy or proud. Quite the contrary, actually.

The end of the Lightning port

The iPhone 15 lineup (the vanilla models included) will finally ditch the archaic Lightning port that Apple has dogmatically stuck to for so long. It goes without saying that USB-C is vastly superior to the Lightning port in, to my knowledge, all relevant aspects. It is also ridiculous that every other Apple product barring accessories has abandoned the Lighting port and adopted USB-C.



It is very funny to look at how Apple justified giving the MacBook Pro 4 USB-C ports in 2015 and nothing else in terms of connectivity… and then proceeded to do everything in its power to keep the Lightning port on its most mainstream device. Luckily, legislators have seen through Apple’s ridiculous money grad strategy and the Cupertino company will have to reluctantly comply with regulations and adopt the USB-C standard.

But I doubt Apple will go down without a fight. The company considered whether it could keep the Lightning port around for another generation up until 2022. Now, the Cupertino company is looking for other ways to force users to buy proprietary Apple cables. How this plays out is ultimately what I am most excited about this year.

Additionally, when the Keynote comes will the USB-C be flaunted as a groundbreaking revolution? What will Apple have to say about its obsolete Lightning connector? These are the real bones of contention when it comes to the Phone in 2023. And they are much more compelling than a couple of rounded edges and a red coat of paint.

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