Apple’s iPhone 15 debut includes higher price on top model
Apple introduced its latest iPhones at an event on Tuesday, banking on new materials, camera upgrades and improved performance to coax back consumers in a sluggish smartphone market.
The company unveiled four new models, keeping pace with the past few generations: the iPhone 15; 15 Plus; 15 Pro; and 15 Pro Max. Like last year, the entry-level models start at $799 (R15,127). The Pro version will remain $999, but the Pro Max will now begin at $1,199 — up $100 from last year’s installment.
The new models — especially the high-end versions — represent the first significant iPhone overhaul since the company’s first 5G phones came out in 2020. Apple is looking to pull out of a sales slump, and it’s counting on major changes to the device to get people to upgrade. The company also is facing trouble in China, where government workers are increasingly banned from using its products and consumer sentiment may be turning against US-branded technology.
Against that backdrop, Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook touted the new lineup as a showcase of the company’s recent breakthroughs.
“Our Pro models represent the very best of Apple innovations, advancing features across design, camera, performance and more,” he said.
In addition to the iPhone, new Apple Watches were unveiled at the event, with a focus on ecofriendly materials. But most of the details of the presentation were previously reported, and investors gave a lukewarm response to the news. The shares slipped 1.8% to $176.21 in New York.
Apple launches are famous “sell-the-news” events, where investors cash out after the anticipation phase ends. The stock was up 38% this year through Monday’s close.
The iPhone, which accounts for about 50% of Apple’s revenue, was the main focus of the 83-minute event. Apple announced plans to start taking preorders for the latest models on Friday in more than 40 countries, including the US, India, China and Canada. The products will then start reaching consumers and stores a week later. Apple is also releasing the phone’s latest operating system, iOS 17, on September 18.
The two entry-level phones include an aluminum frame and frosted glass back in colors such as black, yellow, pink and blue. The higher-end models, meanwhile, come in black, gray, blue and white. For the Pro versions, Apple has moved from a stainless steel frame to one made from titanium, which makes the device lighter and more durable.
Each model comes with either a 6.1-inch or 6.7-inch screen, and the pricier versions include borders around the display that are thinner than before.
In a long-anticipated change, the iPhone 15 models are the company’s first smartphones to feature a USB-C connector, replacing the Lightning port used since 2012. The connector, which was adopted to meet requirements imposed by the European Union, promises to make the device compatible with chargers for Android phones, as well as iPads and Macs. Apple also announced a version of its AirPods Pro that uses the USB-C standard.
The biggest changes to the iPhones involve its rear camera systems. With the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus, Apple is increasing the 12-megapixel wide-angle camera, or main lens, to a 48-megapixel resolution. That matches the technology used in the iPhone 14 Pro. Those models, like last year’s entry-level phones, continue to have a 12-megapixel ultrawide-angle lens for shots that show a broader field of view.
The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max continue to have three cameras: the wide-angle and ultrawide-angle lenses, as well as a telephoto system for improved optical and digital zoom. Both models get new sensors across the camera array, though the iPhone 15 Pro Max adds a telephoto camera that can zoom in up to five times. That nearly doubles the 3x zoom capability of the regular iPhone 15 Pro.
The Pro phones also gain another new trick: the ability to capture spatial videos. That means the cameras can record video in 3D for playback on the company’s Vision Pro headset. The company said during the presentation that the $3,499 mixed-reality headset — unveiled in June — is still on track to go on sale early next year in the US.
Apple is revamping the switch on the left side of the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, turning it into a programmable “action button”. The company will let you users connect the button to individual focus modes, such as a “do not disturb” option, or functions such as launching the camera or the translate app. The feature is similar to the button added to the Apple Watch Ultra last year.
The cheaper models add the Dynamic Island alerts interface at the top of the screen — technology first introduced in last year’s Pro models — and all four phones will get a performance boost. The Pro phones will get a new A17 Pro chip, while the lower-end models upgrade to last year’s Pro processors, the A16.
The A17 Pro is Apple’s first built chip with the new 3-nanometer production process. The company touted its performance gains, including 10% faster processing and a 20% improvement for graphics. In a boost for gaming, the new chip supports a technology called ray-tracing, which enables smoother graphics and improved color accuracy.
The phones also include a new chip that the company said will improve location tracking and other tasks in the Find My app. And there’s a new roadside assistance capability that relies on satellite service, marking an expansion of its Emergency SOS via Satellite feature launched last year.