Every year, Apple introduces a new iPhone line, and its introduction is the most important event in the Apple calendar. iPhone sales are at the heart of the company’s portfolio and serve as the driver for accessories like Apple Watch and AirPods.
With just a few weeks to go until this year’s headline Apple event, with a date for Apple’s September event likely to be announced soon, the rumors are heating up about what to expect with next year’s iPhone 15 line. Here’s what we’ve heard so far, and what we expect based on Apple’s recent history.
Following WWDC on June 5 we have had a preview of a number of new features and apps coming to the iPhone software in iOS 17, from new apps including Standby (which borrows from the Apple Watch to create an alarm clock on your bedside table experience), to the Journal app (which will enhance Photos memories and mix in other kinds of media), to Live Voicemail and the ability to leave messages in FaceTime. Safety features such as the ability to track someone on their way home and improvements to the way AirDrop works. Also of interest will be the new features coming in the Apple Vision Pro headset, and any impact they could have on the future of the iPhone.
But what you are interested in is what the new iPhone will be like and when the new iPhone is coming out, and we are here to answer those questions.
Updated 08/07/23: The latest rumors affirm the super-slim bezels on the iPhone 15 Pro models and suggest that a 2TB option will be available for them.
Rumors at a glance
iPhone 15: 6.1-inch display but Dynamic Island and smaller bezels, A16 processor, 6GB LPDDR5 RAM, better batteries, U2 chip, USB-C replacing Lightning, mute switch replaced with solid-state button, green, yellow, and pink color choices.
iPhone 15 Plus: 6.7-inch display with Dynamic Island and smaller bezels, A16 processor, 6GB RAM LPDDR5 RAM, better batteries, U2 chip, USB-C replacing Lightning, mute switch replaced with solid-state button, green, yellow, and pink color choices.
iPhone 15 Pro: same 6.1-inch display with ProMotion and Dynamic Island, slimmer bezels and rounded corners, A17 processor, 8GB RAM, 2TB option, better batteries, U2 chip, USB-C replacing Lightning, mute switch replaced with Action Button, dark red color option.
iPhone 15 Pro Max (or Ultra): same 6.7-inch display with ProMotion and Dynamic Island, slimmest bezels and rounded corners, A17 processor, 8GB RAM, 2TB option, better batteries, U2 chip, USB-C replacing Lightning, mute switch replaced with Action Button, dark red color option, periscope lens with 6x optical zoom, support for 8K video recording, higher price.
iPhone 15: Release date
Apple usually introduces the new iPhones at an event on a Tuesday or Wednesday around the second week of September. (Read about Apple’s September event).
Therefore, we suspect the iPhone 15 will be unveiled on September 12 or 13, 2023. At least some of the models will likely go on sale for preorder that Friday (September 15) and be available in stores the following Friday (September 22).
Here’s when the last few generations arrived in stores:
iPhone 14, Pro and Pro Max: September 16, 2022. iPhone 14 Plus, October 7, 2022
iPhone 13, mini, Pro and Pro Max: September 24, 2021
iPhone 12 and Pro: October 23, 2020. iPhone 12 mini and Max: November 6, 2020
iPhone 11, Pro and Pro Max: September 20, 2019
iPhone XS and Max: September 21, 2018
It is possible that there could be a split on-sale date in 2023, with certain models shipping later than others (as was the case in 2022 and 2020.)
iPhone 15: Price
With the iPhone 14 models, Apple kept the price the same in the U.S., but thanks to exchange rates and inflation, had to raise prices in the U.K. and many other countries. For reference, here’s the pricing on the iPhone 14 line:
iPhone 14: $799/£849
iPhone 14 Plus: $899/£949
iPhone 14 Pro: $999/£1,099
iPhone 14 Pro Max: $1,099/£1,199
For 2023 rumors point to a higher price for the Pro and Pro Max, but a lower price for the Plus models.
If Apple does indeed re-brand the iPhone 15 Pro Max as the iPhone 15 Ultra (see below) and give it some exclusive new features, we think that will prove enough of an excuse to raise prices on that model, perhaps $100/£100. In fact, in July 2023 Barclays analyst Tim Long suggested that the price hike for the Pro Max could be $200.
A tweet by LeaksApplePro in November 2022 said it expects the iPhone 15 Ultra to “cost substantially more to manufacture than iPhone 14 Pro Max.” That doesn’t necessarily mean it will cost more, but it’s a good indication that it might.
On the other hand, a rumor in December claimed that Apple is “seriously” considering a price cut to the iPhone 15 Plus following disappointing sales of the iPhone 14 Plus this year. Although, it could be noted that with the iPhone 14 Plus costing $200 less than the iPhone 14 Pro Max, disappointing sales of one phone could result in better sales of the other.
A price drop for the iPhone 15 Plus should also result in a price cut for the iPhone 15. When Apple removed the cheaper iPhone mini from the lineup with the iPhone 14 it effectively raised the starting price of the lineup, so a lower price for the iPhone 15 would be welcome.
That’s really about all there is to those rumors so far. The assumption is that the iPhone 15 Ultra would be the branding used for the “Pro Max” variant, and there would be some sort of new features to differentiate it. Apple did this once before with the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which had a slightly better camera than the iPhone 12 Pro.
So most people expect that the camera will once again be the feature that sets apart the new Ultra phone, possibly with a better periscope telephoto camera (see below). The rumor mill has lots of other ideas for how Apple could make the Ultra version stand out, such as faster charging or more storage, but most of them aren’t substantiated by any evidence.
This hypothetical iPhone 15 Ultra could otherwise be thought of as an iPhone 15 Pro Max–it is assumed to use the same processor, display, and design as the iPhone 15 Pro (though LeaksApplePro reports that it could have a titanium body like the Apple Watch Ultra).
iPhone 15: Design
While Apple has kept the same general design since the iPhone 12, rumors suggest that a change may be in store for the iPhone 15. Here’s what we’re hearing about the look of the next iPhone.
In November 2022 ShrimpApple Pro tweeted that the iPhone 15 will be made from titanium instead of stainless steel. Titanium is strong, though not necessarily as strong as steel, but it is lighter. This new finish may be exclusive to the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max much like the Apple Watch Ultra. Several reports have corroborated these claims, so it’s extremely likely the new Pro phones will have a titanium body.
According to ShrimpApplePro on Twitter, the iPhone 15 will feature “a new border design,” a claim that has been backed up by leaked CAD designs. As the leaker explains, the back edge corners will “be rounded and not square” like the iPhone 14. Based on the images below, it looks a bit like an updated version of the iPhone X but still very similar to the iPhone 14.
We expect to see the same four general sizes: about 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch for both the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro.
Most reports say the bezels are a third slimmer than those on the iPhone 14 Pro. The non-Pro models of the iPhone 15 are expected to have bezels that match the current iPhone 14 Pro.
Ian Zelbo created the following renders for 9to5Mac:
There will also obviously be new colors. A new Deep Red is expected to replace Deep Purple on the Pro and Pro Max, joining the white, black, and gold finishes. This red shade is said to be much darker than the Product RED color and more of a variation of the “sunset” color that was previously rumored for the iPhone 13.
Apple is also said to be testing two new colors for the standard iPhone 15: pink and light blue. A report by ShrimpApplePro in July 2023 claimed that the new iPhone 15 colors will be green, yellow, and pink in addition to the standard black (Midnight), white (Starlight), and Product Red.
According to a rumor from Ming-Chi Kuo from October 2022, Apple was planning to switch to solid-state buttons for the iPhone 15 Pro and Max/Ultra models, much like the Home button on the iPhone SE. At the time, Kuo said Apple will add a pair of Taptic engines on either side of the phone to mimic the feel of a clickable button like the MacBook trackpad.
According to these leaked CAD files, the non-Pro models will continue to have two volume buttons and a mute switch.
In August Majin Bu tweeted an image of cases for the iPhone 15 Ultra models which apparently “show a third button that should replace the old mute switcher.”
All iPhone 15 models are expected to ditch the Lightning connector in favor of USB-C due to the European Union’s new laws.
The EU is mandating that most portable electronics, including phones, have to standardize around USB-C for charging ports (if any–gadgets that only charge wirelessly like the Apple Watch don’t need to add a USB-C port). This means Apple will have to transition several products over time, and instead of making special USB-C versions for Europe, will likely just change everything worldwide as we saw recently with the 10th-gen iPad and Siri remote.
Current iPhones use USB-C power adapters, so that won’t change, just the USB-C to Lightning cable and the port on the iPhone itself. The upside? Potentially faster charging and faster data transfer speeds for those that plug their iPhones into their Macs or PCs.
There are suggestions that the iPhone 15 Pro will get USB 3.2 or Thunderbolt 3 support, with data transfer speeds of up to 20 or 40 Gbits per second. Faster charging speeds are a possibility but might require special USB-C cables.
One significant change to the display on the non-Pro iPhones is that the Dynamic Island— that pill-shaped camera cutout that serves as an important interface element on iPhone 14 Pro–will come to all iPhone 15 models. That means the non-Pro iPhones will have the same look and interface.
Note that this doesn’t mean that the iPhone 15 will get an always-on display or ProMotion, though. Those features are currently rumored to remain exclusive to the Pro models.
iPhone 15: Specs and features
Apple tests a lot of new technologies from a lot of suppliers, and over time little leaks can sometimes give us a clue as to what’s coming in the next iPhone. These leaks are sometimes wrong, often misunderstood, and generally miss software innovations that accompany the new hardware (such as Dynamic Island, where we only heard about the “pill and hole” cutout and not how Apple intended to make use of it).
Here’s what we currently expect to find inside the iPhone 15 line.
Periscope camera lens
Rumors have said that Apple has been working on a “periscope lens” to offer a much longer-range optical zoom. One of the difficulties of placing a long focal length telephoto lens in smartphones is simply that of available space. In order to get a larger zoom, you need a combination of lenses set at distances that, if they were assembled using the traditional smartphone camera layout, would result in an absurdly large camera bump. To combat this the periscope design uses mirrors–like in a periscope–to allow those lenses to run lengthwise along the phone. According to rumors, if this design is adopted then the iPhone could achieve an optical zoom closer to 6x, or somewhere in the 5x to 10x range. It seems that this new periscope lens will only appear in the larger iPhone 15 Pro Max (or Ultra).
This could still result in a much larger camera bump, with rumors claiming: “the camera bump will be bigger, and “the individual lens protrusion has more than doubled.”
It’s the same technology that allows the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra to achieve such a long zoom range. The S22 Ultra’s cameras are much larger than the other models.
As for the cameras on the other phones, you’ll probably still need an iPhone 15 Pro to take full advantage of the 48MP camera and the ProRAW format (which is required to capture full-sized 48MP photos). The Pro iPhones are still likely to be the only iPhones with LiDAR sensors (which can improve focus and portrait mode in dark environments, as well as being useful for AR apps).
The next major processor manufacturing technology bump out of TSMC (the company that makes most of Apple’s chips) wasn’t ready yet for the A16. We think the A17 is likely to be one of the first mass-produced chips to use the chip manufacturer’s 3nm process, which should allow more transistors in the same area, allowing Apple to cram in more features and better performance. Read more about How the A17 Bionic chip will take the iPhone 15 Pro to the next level.
The 3nm process offers more power efficiency, but we are unlikely to see a massive shift in battery life. We may see some improvement is in standby mode though. While the A16 was about 16 billion transistors, we can expect well over 20 billion for the A17. Along with this higher transistor budget, it seems ARM v9 instruction set support is likely. Apple’s new CPU cores for the A17 will almost certainly be faster, but not necessarily because of the shift to ARM v9
With the iPhone 14 line, Apple reserved its new A16 for the Pro models and used the A15 again on the non-Pro models. We think that’s likely to continue in 2023, with the standard iPhone 15 using the A16 processor and the iPhone 15 Pro using the new A17.
Memory and storage
After the iPhone 14 Pro kept the same 6GB of memory as the iPhone 13 Pro, Trendforce reports that the iPhone 15 Pro/Ultra models will get 8GB of RAM. The non-Pro models are expected to have the same 6GB of RAM as this year, but they may adopt the LPDDR5 RAM from the iPhone 14 Pro.
Rumors have pointed to a 2TB option that will be available for the iPhone 15 Pro’s storage, double the amount available on any iPhone before. In August yeux1122 made this claim on Weibo.
iPhone 15: 3,877mAh (up from 3,279mAh) iPhone 15 Plus: 4,912mAh (up from 4,325mAh) iPhone 15 Pro: 3,650mAh (up from 3,200mAh) iPhone 15 Pro Max: 4,852mAh (up from 4,323mAh)
If this is true this 11 to 18 percent increase in battery capacity could result in an increase of several hours of battery life. However, the source of the rumor backtracked a bit after the rumor gained traction. A follow-up rumor in July 2023 predicted that Apple will use a new “stacked” design for the iPhone 15 battery, which may bring increased capacity and efficiency.
Another leaker RGcloudS claimed in July that Apple is using a stacked battery design for the iPhone 15, which could allow for bigger capacities.
Apple’s 5G modem
Apple has been working on its own cellular modem for years now, having acquired Intel’s modem unit in 2019 for $1B. While it was originally rumored that Apple could have a competitive 5G capable cellular modem ready in time to be part of the iPhone 15, recent rumors suggest that won’t be the case. Back in May, Ming-Chi Kuo reported that the development of the modem had hit a “roadblock,” and Mark Gurman reported in November that Qualcomm is expected to provide “the majority of new modems” for the iPhone 15. We should expect another Qualcomm Snapdragon modem instead, most likely the Snapdragon X70.
If the phone features an upgraded ultra wideband (UWB) chip it should ensure seamless integration with the Vision Pro. “The ecosystem is one of the key success factors for Vision Pro, including the integration with other Apple hardware products,” Kuo explains.
The improved UWB chip many also bring additional benefits, including more accurate AirTag tracking, for example, or reduced power consumption.