A new line of iPhones and a new Apple Watch were announced by the company Tuesday at a prerecorded online event.
The new iPhone 15 and 15 Plus are based on the A16 Bionic processor. It has the “Dynamic Island,” which expands and contracts in reaction to alerts and live activities. It also has a brighter display — 1600 nits that can reach peak brightness of up to 2000 nits in sunlight — and comes in two sizes — 6.1 inches for the iPhone 15 and 6.7 inches for the Plus.
The unit sports a 48-megapixel main camera with a 2x telephoto option. It also has an improved ultra-wideband chip with greater range, making it easier to find objects and people, as well as the addition of a USB-C port for charging, transferring data, and playing audio and video.
Emergency SOS, which supports satellite communication, is also part of the new units’ repertoire. The latest version of the service includes roadside assistance because cars don’t always break down where there’s cell service.
Prior versions of the iPhone focused its satellite features on extreme emergencies, such as getting lost in the woods or at sea. “This a practical thing that a lot of people will appreciate,” Bob O’Donnell, founder and chief analyst with Technalysis Research, a technology market research and consulting firm in Foster City, Calif., told TechNewsWorld.
“I think it’s going to make it much more important that people have smartphones, not because they’re stuck on a desert island or a cliff, but the ability to call for emergency services from your car is a big deal,” added Mark N. Vena, president and principal analyst with SmartTech Research in San Jose, Calif.
Pricing for the iPhone 15 starts at $799, and the 15 Plus starts at $899. Pre-orders can be placed on Sept. 15, and they’re expected to be on the shelves by Sept. 22.
New Top-Shelf Phones
At the top of the iPhone line, Apple introduced the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max. Apple’s A17 chip gives the phones tremendous computing and graphics power. According to Apple, console-quality video games can be played on the new phones.
The iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max will be available in four new finishes: black titanium, white titanium, blue titanium, and natural titanium.
The new, more powerful processor and GPU will be important to Apple as it adds artificial intelligence capabilities to its mobile devices. “One of the reasons Nvidia is doing so well is that they’re powering most of the artificial intelligence applications,” noted Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, a technology advisory firm in San Jose, Calif.
“That’s what a GPU is really good at,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Apple’s GPU has shown its prowess in imaging and video, but with this new GPU in mobile, Apple is laying the foundation to expand their AI capabilities.”
“Within a year or so, I expect you’ll be able to ask Siri a question, and it’s going to give you an answer as powerful as something like ChatGPT.”
The muscular A17 processor allows more processing to be done on the phone and less to be done in the cloud. “If they can do more stuff locally, on the phone, that’s a big deal,” O’Donnell said. “And if they start to do a more generative AI-powered Siri down the road, doing some of that locally will be a huge deal from a privacy perspective.”
Seven Lenses in Your Pocket
Apple has also boosted the power of the main camera in the Pro and Max. Not only do they support 48 megapixels, but have the equivalent of seven camera lenses.
The 15 Pro has a 3x lens with 77mm focal length, while the Max has a 5x optical zoom with 120 mm focal length. When coupled with the phones’ ultrawide and macro modes, the units have a 10x optical zoom range with a focal length from 13 to 120 millimeters.
“Those are popular focal lengths that photographers and videographers use. Apple wants to accommodate that,” Ross Rubin, the principal analyst at Reticle Research, a consumer technology advisory firm in New York City told TechNewsWorld.
Apple also announced that the models will support spatial video capture later this year. Users can view the 3D videos on the new phones, as well as in Apple’s virtual reality headset, the Apple Vision Pro.
“What it does is jump-start creating spatial content for the Apple Vision Pro. It’s a brilliant move,” Bajarin said.
“They’re setting the stage for the high-end iPhones to be a great device to capture video for the Vision Pro.,” Vena added.
Apple also announced the expected change in the iPhones’ charging port to USB-C. “They handled that deftly,” Rubin said. “They talked about using the same cable across their major product lines and taking advantage of greater speed when transferring massive photo video files created in the phone.”
The iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max support USB 3 for data transfer speeds up to 10GB per second, up to 20x faster than before.
“While USB-C was something they resisted because it was pushed on them, it’s clear they’ll see some benefits from the shift,” he observed.
“If you think about how many iPhone households have cables everywhere, they’re not going to be happy about the move to USB-C,” added Ryan Reith, program vice president of IDC’s Mobile Device Tracker suite.
“That’s going to be a little bit of a concern,” he told TechNewsWorld, “but from what we see from our supply side research, Apple is planning for a big cycle ahead. They’re banking on this being a pretty good calendar Q4.”
“Android vendors have moved a lot of their high-end portfolio to foldable and flip phones. The market isn’t demanding that right now,” he said. “That’s why Apple has been able to gain some market share, and our expectation is that by the end of the year, Apple will have the highest market share they’ve ever had.”
Pricing for the iPhone 15 Pro starts at $999 and for the 15 Pro Max at $1,199 with 256GB of storage.
Watch Series 9
Another new addition introduced Tuesday by Apple is the Series 9 watch.
Among the new features added to it is a new way to control the device by double-tapping the forefinger and thumb on your watch hand, faster on-device Siri that provides a secure way to access health data, precision finding of an iPhone, and a brighter display — all enabled by a faster chip, the S9 SIP.
“The double tap was their biggest user interface advancement for the watch,” Rubin observed.
“I think the double tap is pretty cool,” O’Donnell said. “It’s very useful. I’ve been in situations where I’ve had a smartwatch on, and you can’t always put another hand on it.”
Pricing on the Apple Watch is $249 for the SE, $399 for the Series 9, and $799 for the Ultra 2 — all available starting Sept. 22.