Few companies can capture the attention of the public better than Apple, but the tech giant really turns heads when it comes time to unveil a new version of its flagship iPhone. This time, it’s the new iPhone 15 family of smartphones and updates to its Apple Watch and Apple Watch Ultra lineups.
Apple’s iPhone debut is the company’s arguably its highest profile event of the year, when everyone tunes in to see what innovations the company has packed into its newest smartphone. While Apple isn’t always the first company to introduce a new feature or technology, it’s typically the one that turns them into mainstream, must-have elements of a smartphone. Think wireless charging, mobile payments or multiple camera lenses – those were features that rivals got to first, but Apple somehow got people talking about them.
Admittedly, the rate of innovation has slowed across the smartphone industry, with advancements settling for incremental upgrades like a sharper camera, faster processor or slightly smaller bezel. At the same time, prices for these phones have gone up, which is likely why smartphone sales are in a bit of a slump right now.
Here’s what Apple announced today at its “Wanderlust” event:
iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus
Apple’s flagship iPhone 15 gets a relatively big change from last year’s model, and inherits features from last year’s Pro models. Superficially, the biggest change is the elimination of the notch and the adoption of the “Dynamic Island” at the top of the display. The Dynamic Island was first introduced in the iPhone 14 Pro, and has moved down to its most popular model.
The phones also get the A16 Bionic processor that also debuted on the iPhone 14 Pro.
For the photogs, the iPhone 15 gets a 48 megapixel camera with a 2x telephoto lens. The camera also features the second-generation version of its “Portrait Mode,” which no longer needs to be actively selected. You can take a normal photo and decide later if you want to add the background blur effect.
The iPhone 15 keeps the 6.1-inch display, while the iPhone 15 Plus gets the 6.7-inch display, along with a larger battery.
One of the biggest changes is the switch to a USB-C connection, with Apple ditching the long-standing Lightning port. The switch means you’ll need to be mindful that your older Lightning cables will no longer work.
Apple also added to the capabilities of its Emergency SOS satellite service, adding Roadside Assistance through AAA as an option.
The iPhone 15 starts at $799, while the iPhone 15 Plus starts at $899.
iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max
Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro has become the platform for its latest innovation, and the company led off its discussion of the phone with a focus on the new titanium alloy. The company touts titanium as stronger, more durable and lighter than stainless steel.
The Pro models are also swapping out the ring silent switch for an “Action Button” that you can customize for different functions, including starting a voice memo, launching the camera or starting an accessibility feature.
The phones also get a new A17 Pro chip with its more powerful discrete GPU, for better game graphics and performance. The company touts the 19 billion transistors in the chip. Apple claims its processor challenges high-end desktop PCs for computing power. Apple spent a fair amount of time talking about the higher capabilities of the phone, which allow for console-level games like Resident Evil Village and the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Mirage.
Like the iPhone 15, the Pro models will get USB-C ports, but it will include USB-C 3.0, which enables faster charging and data transfer speeds.
The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max will also get a 48 megapixel camera – the same as last year. But the main camera will default to a super high resolution mode that allows for better low-light photo and contrasting colors. Photographers can shoot in 24MM, 28MM and 35MM range, as well as choose a new default lens. They both also get a 12 MP ultrawide camera, while the iPhone 15 Pro gets a 3X telephoto lens.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max gets one unique feature in a 5X telephoto lens with its most advanced optical image stabilization system.
The iPhone 15 Pro starts at $999, while the iPhone 15 Pro Max starts at $1,199, a $100 more than last year, but with 256GB of storage. You can also use the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max’s telephoto and main lenses to create spatial video, which is a feature later this year that will help with the Apple Vision Pro AR headset.
Apple Watch Series 9
Apple led the event with a refresh of its Apple Watch wearable, the Apple Watch Series 9.
The highlight feature of the Series 9 is a new gesture control called “Double Tap.” It works by tapping your forefinger and thumb together, which allows you to take calls, snooze alarms, take photos or more. Apple said the Watch’s four core neural engines, which allow for faster machine learning processing, allows the wearable to recognize the gesture.
Another feature is Name Drop, which allows you to get near another person’s Apple Watch to exchange contact info.
The Series 9 also includes precision finding through a second-generation UWB chip, which will allow you to find your iPhone a lot easier.
It also boasts a longer 18-hour battery.
The Apple Watch SE starts at $249, while the Series 9 starts at $399.
You can preorder today, available on September 22.
Apple Watch Ultra 2
The more rugged version of the Apple Watch, the Ultra, gets a sequel.
The Apple Watch Ultra 2 also gets the S9 processor, as well as a brighter 3000-nit display, its brightest display yet.
The watch will run for 36 hours, and 72 hours on low-power mode, the same as the original model.
It starts at $799, and you can pre-order it today and buy it on September 22.
Check back for more updates.
Odds and Ends
- Apple CEO Tim Cook gave a brief update to its Apple Vision Pro augmented reality headset, saying it was still on track to launch early next year. But there still isn’t anymore specific timing.
- Apple spent a lot of time talking about its efforts to be more environmentally friendly, including playing an extended sketch with the leadership team meeting with “Mother Nature,” played by Octavia Spencer (The Help). The company set a goal of ensuring that all of its products will have a net-zero climate impact by 2030.
- The larger Pro Max model continues to set itself apart further from the smaller Pro model with the introduction of the 5X telephoto lens. But Apple has also raised the price to get access to all of its latest technology, further raising the upper end of the high tier.