Sometimes, the little things count, especially when they come together in abundance. This is what we see with Apple’s latest smartphone, the iPhone 15, which they unveiled alongside a new lineup of Apple Watches during their highly anticipated product reveal event yesterday.
The iPhone 15 brings several minor changes that might not seem noteworthy on their own but collectively mark a significant step forward. This will be particularly appealing to folks with 3- or 4-year-old phones who are thinking about upgrading.
What’s impressive is that Apple managed to do this without raising the prices as many had feared with this generation. The only exception is the top-tier iPhone 15 Pro Max, which now starts at $1,199. However, it offers 256 GB of base storage, matching last year’s iPhone 14 Pro Max price for a similar amount of storage.
The standard iPhone 15 models inherit the high-end 48-megapixel camera and A16 Bionic processor upgrades first introduced with the iPhone 14 Pro line last year. This makes them a great deal for those seeking last year’s premium tech at this year’s prices.
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For those in pursuit of the latest tech, Apple has exciting upgrades for the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. The standout feature is a new telephoto-style lens for the iPhone 15 Pro Max that employs a technology Apple calls a “tetraprism design.” This technology uses multiple mirrors to achieve a 5x optical zoom, an impressive feat for a smartphone’s compact space.
Apple also revealed that later this year, the 15 Pro Max will be capable of capturing “spatial” videos, akin to 3D videos, using two of the phone’s lenses. These videos can be enjoyed on the upcoming Vision Pro extended reality headset, slated for release early next year.
Interestingly, some of the most impactful changes are available across all iPhone 15 models. Apple has ditched its proprietary Lightning connector in favor of USB-C for the entire iPhone 15 lineup. While this change was expected and is partly driven by EU regulations, it’s worth noting that existing iPhone chargers will still work; you’ll just need a different cable to connect them.
The shift to USB-C offers more versatility as it’s an industry standard for other smartphones, newer iPads, Macs, and AirPods. On the iPhone 15 Pro Max, USB-C also enables fast data transfers and the ability to remotely charge Apple Watches and AirPods, which wasn’t possible with Lightning.
One feature likely to please everyone is Apple’s addition of Roadside Assistance to its satellite-based SOS services. Like Emergency SOS introduced with last year’s iPhone 14, this service uses satellite-based connectivity in the iPhone 15 to connect with a service provider like AAA in areas with no network coverage. This added safety feature is expected to be very popular among drivers and their loved ones.
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The improved connectivity in the new iPhone 15 models is due in part to Qualcomm modems integrated by Apple. Additionally, Apple has enhanced Wi-Fi capabilities to support Wi-Fi 6E and added a new Ultra-Wideband chip for better location-based services like Find My.
Collectively, these incremental upgrades may not have a major “wow” factor, but in a declining smartphone market, they offer a compelling package, especially with stable prices, likely to attract budget-conscious consumers to consider the new iPhone 15 seriously.