iPhone 14 and 15: Apple is finally conforming with the competition (against its will), and I'm all for it

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
iPhone 14 and 15: Apple is finally conforming with the competition (against its will), and I'm all f
Ah, Apple. I hate apples, or sweet food in general, but they're healthy, people say. And like the actual fruit, Apple's products are pretty sweet, smooth, and widely beloved.

But oranges, bananas, and other fruits also exist, and of course, we're using those as metaphors for other smartphone brands. Other smartphone brands that have been adding new, cutting-edge features to their phones to get your attention, while Apple was playing it safe, moving at its own (usually quite slow) pace, without seemingly even trying to catch up.

Always-on display, selfie camera cutouts, a USB Type-C port – a lot of flagships have those. In fact, you can see the latter two on pretty much all Android flagships these days. But what about Apple's iPhones?

Surprisingly, looking at the new iPhone 14 and the upcoming iPhone 15 series, Apple seems to finally feel threatened by the competition, making some long-needed upgrades. Not only that, but it's now even forced to change its course by the European Parliament too, whether it wants to or not.

Let's start with the big new thing we expect for the iPhone 15, and see what else has surprisingly changed recently in Apple's little world, plus what this all means for us as consumers…

You think the iPhone 15 will drop the Lightning port in favor of USB Type-C? You don't know who you're dealing with, bucko…

Apple's proprietary Lightning connector has been a huge cash cow for the Cupertino company, ever since its introduction ten years ago. And back then, it made sense – it was a faster, smaller connector than the 30-pin dock connector that preceded it, and USB Type-C wasn't a thing yet. We were still living two years prior to its inception.

So other than the frustration of having to buy new cables, it was hard for iPhone users to complain, when their phones got that new Lightning port. Back then, at least.

But now, at the very end of 2022, USB Type-C has become a universal standard for consumer tech – from phones, through tablets, to laptops. And even Apple itself gives USB Type-C ports on its more premium devices, such as MacBooks and iPad Pros. Following the latest base iPad update – all current-gen iPads charge with USB-C, in fact.

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But, the same can't be said for iPhones – Apple's most popular consumer device. Why would that be?

Well, like we said earlier, Apple isn't eager to give up on Lightning, holding on to it for as long as it can, because licensing it to third parties that make iPhone accessories is earning the company a lot of money. Plus, making you buy Lightning cables too results in some pretty high revenue numbers that add to Tim Cook's 7-figure salary.

Unfortunately for Apple, though, the European Parliament has now approved a bill that enforces tech products sold in the EU to use USB Type-C as a universal standard. A move that's beneficial for not only the consumer, but supposedly for the environment. This new rule should affect all smartphones sold in the EU by the end of 2024, and it comes with a caveat – phone buyers will also "be able to choose whether to purchase a new device with or without a charging device."

I only mention that last part of the bill, because by now we all know Apple, and pretty much any other major phone brand, is now selling its flagship phones without a charger. Once again, "the environment" was the reasoning for this move. Regardless, in a couple of years, at least in the EU, Apple will probably have an optional tick box on its site, offering to bundle in a charger as you buy a new iPhone.

But back on that Lightning ordeal. The iPhone 15 is coming in late 2023, likely in September, and by several accounts, it might be coming with a USB Type-C port. Whether that's true, and whether it'll only apply to European iPhone models, we'll have to wait to see. But I've been theorizing on a different move from Apple, long before that aforementioned EU bill was finally accepted…

A portless iPhone. If the iPhone 15 really drops Lightning in favor of a USB Type-C port, then that would make it a very unique and collectible iPhone model – the only one with USB-C. Because the next one – iPhone 16 – I'm willing to bet won't have a charging port at all. Instead, we'll be charging our iPhones wirelessly, and only wirelessly.

This way Apple can not only laugh at everyone who believes the EU will successfully force it to use USB Type-C, but it will continue making money from its own proprietary technology – except now instead of Lightning, it'll be MagSafe.

Move over, Lightning, MagSafe is coming to take your job!

And nobody can really force Apple to ever drop MagSafe in favor of a universal wireless charging standard, such as Qi, because MagSafe already supports it! Genius! Have your cake and eat it too, Apple.

A big iPhone that doesn't cost a liver – finally

When I reviewed Apple's newest iPhone variant – the iPhone 14 Plus – I made it clear why this phone has to exist, and why Tim Cook's fruit-logo company was smart to finally, finally make it real. It's not 2014 anymore – people want and need big phones. We do everything on our phones now, and the now-retired iPhone mini, even the base iPhone variant, just don't really cut it anymore, for all the texting, web browsing, shopping, and movie-watching many people do on their phones.

But Apple being Apple, it used to make you buy the most expensive iPhone Pro Max model if you wanted a big phone with a big screen. The iPhone 14 Plus is now here to change that, saving iPhone users who want a big screen some money, instead of Apple still charging them an arm and a leg for a Pro Max. Which isn't just a big phone, but also has expensive bells and whistles most people don't want or need.

Let's look at Apple's closest competition – Samsung. Samsung knows what's up – for a while now it has been cleverly offering a base Galaxy S, a larger 6.6-inch Galaxy S+, and a huge 6.8-inch Galaxy Ultra model. Screen size wasn't really an issue for Samsung users, as they had both a Plus and an Ultra model to pick from, instead of being forced to only buy the Ultra, due to zero other options.

So once again, we see Apple adapting to a changing smartphone-world climate. As a result, we might not only get another iPhone 15 Plus model next year, but with a USB Type-C port no less! Whatever could be next?

"No more notch. We get it, cutouts are where it's at!"

You're probably sick of reading about Apple's new "Dynamic Island," which has been hyped to high heavens, courtesy of Apple's great marketing, and in part – its legitimately fun implementation of the technology.

Apple's new iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max (not the cheaper iPhone and iPhone Plus, of course) now have a pill-shaped cutout instead of a notch, at the top center of their screens. It still holds the selfie camera and Face ID sensor array, like the notch did, and… Well, it actually wastes even more space on the screen than the notch did, due to some wasted rows of pixels above it, but hey, Apple wouldn't want you to notice that.

What it does want you to notice are the cool, fluid animations that Dynamic Island is involved with, and how it's like a little hub for all of your notifications, or an extra taskbar for certain apps. It is pretty cool, but ultimately, it's just Apple saying: "Fine, we held on to the notch for a bit too long. We came up with this new idea to finally use cutouts like every other phone brand, except ours is wider, and looks animated!"

At the very least, the Dynamic Island cutout is a nice refresher, and obviously a well-marketed way to get you to buy a Pro iPhone model instead of the cheaper ones. Which, unsurprisingly, look exactly like last year's iPhones, notch and all.

But yeah, ultimately, what we have here is Apple finally conforming with the competition – dropping the unsightly notch for the slightly sleeker cutout we've been seeing on flagship Android phones since forever now.

Always-on display – the legend, the myth, the (finally) reality

My first smartphone with an always-on display feature was the mediocre, mid-range Alcatel Idol 4S. I talked about it in a fun compilation article from about two years ago, which you should definitely check out: "These are the worst smartphones we've ever used."

Anyway, that phone was an upper-midranger from 2016. That's how long ago even non-flagship Android phones had always-on display (or "ambient display," as was its name on the Alcatel).

Now, "just" six years later, Apple finally caught up with that random mid-range Android phone from days long (semi-)forgotten. The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max finally bring always-on display to Apple's smartphones for the first time.

Of course, again, only those two iPhone Pro models have it, and not the "cheap" $800 base iPhone and $900 iPhone Plus…

That Alcatel with always-on display was about $400, by the way, and again, it came out back in 2016. But let's not think too hard about whether those numbers add up and make sense, I guess… Apple sure doesn't want us to do that.

In any case, what we have here is a nudge in the right direction, and once again – an example of Apple conforming with the competition. Better late than never, right?

And, exclusively for Apple – the new always-on display is also yet another feature to get you to buy a more expensive Pro iPhone model.

Periscope zoom and 8K video recording for the iPhone 15 Pro – playing catch-up with Samsung?

Samsung's top-tier flagship – the Galaxy S22 Ultra – has an insane 10X periscope zoom lens, which lets you capture crystal clear shots of things your naked eye can only see as mere dots on the distant horizon.

These photos, courtesy of Ice Universe, perfectly show how amazing the S22 Ultra's zoom is

But it's not just Samsung, lots of Android flagships have periscope zoom cameras now, exhibit B being the Sony Xperia 1 IV.

Long-range camera zoom is often viewed as a creepy feature, letting some of the less ethical users out there zoom closely into the windows of people's homes, but for someone as near-sighted as I'm progressively becoming, phone camera zooming is basically an accessibility feature. It not only helps me read signs from afar, but yeah – it actually also makes it possible to capture amazing shots of far away landscapes.

I recently visited a beautiful seaside location and wanted to take pictures of a nearby island that had countless birds on it, but my iPhone 14 Plus' mere 2x zoom didn't really cut it.

In addition, let's talk about 8K video recording. Even the newest iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max are stuck at 4K, and I'm actually with Apple on this one – 8K still isn't widely adopted enough. Very few people have an 8K screen to view such high-resolution footage with. In fact, even 4K isn't exactly on everyone's laptop or TV just yet.

So, it makes sense that Apple isn't rushing to add 8K video recording to its phones, although rumors are now floating around that the iPhone 15 might offer 8K video. Which, to be fair, the competition, in the face of Samsung, has been offering for years on its flagships.

Samsung has had 8K video recording since the Galaxy S20 series, and unlike how Apple does things – this was a feature available on all S20 phones, not just the more expensive Galaxy S20 Ultra. Apple, of course, will only let Pro and Pro Max users record in 8K, when the feature inevitably arrives. Noticing a trend here?

In any case, if this rumor that the iPhone 15 Pro models will have 8K video recording is true, then it would be another perfect example of Apple conforming, and catching up with the competition. Because we're talking about a niche feature that pretty much nobody really cares for or will use right now. But nonetheless, Samsung has been giving its users the option, and for years now.

Is Apple finally changing for the better, or is it just finding "new and exciting ways" to make money, with newer proprietary technology? And, of course, by encouraging you to buy the more expensive iPhones, just so you can get common flagship features.

What do you think? Join the conversation and share in the comments below how you feel about Apple's recent iPhone changes.

Plus, let us know what you expect for next year's iPhone 15 – Lightning, USB Type-C or no ports at all? Are you ready to go fully wireless, if it's the latter?

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