Mark your calendars: September 12th will bring the launch of the next iPhone, and it's bound to bring more than just minor upgrades to the flagship of Apple's lineup. Here's what you should expect to see from the iPhone 15:
Firstly, and foremost, and finally: USB-C is finally coming to the iPhone. It's been more than a decade with Lightning (which predated USB-C by years) and it's high time that Apple make the switch. While their hand was forced by the EU mandating that consumer devices use USB-C, I also believe that Apple was going to make the switch eventually anyway. Lightning was a great port when it was announced, but the ubiquity and capability of USB-C have long since eclipsed it, and Apple has moved everything but the iPhone, AirPods, and the Magic Keyboard and Mouse to USB-C.
Switching to USB-C will not only universalize the charging ecosystem, but it'll be a big boon to the iPhone as well. While we don't know how exactly Apple will implement it, but USB-C Power Delivery will allow the iPhone 15 to charge much faster than it can over Lightning. Don't expect Apple to implement anything too crazy, but faster charging is definitely one of the benefits of this switch.
Additionally, USB-C supports much faster data transfer, which professional media users of the iPhone 15 Pro will appreciate for getting the massive ProRes raw video files off the phone and onto their Macs.
It wouldn't be shocking to see other Apple devices like the AirPods line switch to USB-C as well.
the new base model iPhone 15 is expected to adopt the "dynamic island" camera pill that was introduced with the iPhone 14 Pro last year. Goodbye, notch. But apart from that, don't expect anything huge here. It'll probably have the latest, the faster A16 processor that was introduced in last year's iPhone 14 Pro, an improved camera array matching the 48MP shooter from the iPhone 15 Pro, and the aforementioned USB-C.
Design-wise… don't expect much change there.
iPhone 15 Pro
Here's where you'll find the changes. Let's start with the design: Apple is rumored to swap the flat and polished stainless steel side rails that have defined the last few years of the "Pro" iPhone for matte-finish curved titanium, perhaps taking some design cues from the Apple Watch Ultra. Speaking of borrowing from that watch, the venerable mute switch that has been a part of the iPhone since the very beginning may meet its end with the iPhone 15, replaced by an "Action" button that will be programmable to do all sorts of things — just like it is on the Apple Watch Ultra.
Powering this you'll find an even-more-powerful A17 processor built on a 3nm process, new 5G modems from Qualcomm, and what some reporting has indicated is the largest-capacity batteries ever in an iPhone. While the standard iPhone 15 might be limited in transfer speeds to a more pedestrian USB 2.0 specification, the 15 Pro is expected to get speedy USB 3.2 speeds (up to 20Gb/s) or even Thunderbolt 3 (40Gb/s). Additionally, the Wi-Fi radio will be updated to support the speedier Wi-Fi 6E standard.
Things get interesting with the iPhone 15 Pro Max, or as some rumors have taken to labeling it, the iPhone 15 Ultra (Apple does like them some "Ultra" as of late). In addition to the larger screen and battery, for the first time in a few years the Pro Max will not maintain camera parity with the Pro. While the iPhone 15 Pro will have a 3x telephoto zoom camera as the prior year's models, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is expected to finally adopt the periscope prism lens system used by multiple Android manufacturers to install a lens with an even longer focal length. The rumors and reporting are hard to pin down, with everything from 5x to 10x having been reported.
And then there's the price… while it's expected that the standard iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Max will remain at their current $799 and $899 base prices, the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max are getting price hikes. Expect them to be at least $100 more expensive than last year, with a starting price of $1,199 for the iPhone 15 Pro, and potentially an additional $100 more on the 15 Pro Max / Ultra. Pre-orders are expected to commence on September 15th with availability on the 22nd.
Back to the theme of iteration: don't expect much here. The Apple Watch Series 9 will likely get a new S9 processor that will improve performance and battery life, but that's about it. There might be a new pink color, and Apple will no doubt have a new band style or two for strapaholics to purchase. The Apple Watch Ultra 2 will likely get the same S9 processor upgrade and a new black titanium color option.
It'll be a quiet year for Apple Watch, and that's okay. Like the iPad, Apple has learned that most customers don't upgrade their watch nearly as often as they may upgrade their phone. Compelling features are hard to make happen in that space. Next year may see a more significant redesign of the Apple Watch with a thinner design, new watch attachment system, and new display tech, but this year will be ho-hum and that's okay. If anything, it'll mean the soon-to-be-old-but-still-excellent Apple Watch 8 and first-gen Ultra will be available for nice discounts.
One More Thing
Expect that Apple will spend some time touting the $3500 Vision Pro XR headset. Hopefully they'll show off some of the apps that third-party developers have come up with that will make the headset more desirable, but it'll still be a hard sell for Apple to make. Also expect that Apple will announce some integration with the new iPhones, perhaps via a UWB radio, even though the Vision Pro is designed to function fully independently.