Apple iPhone 15: What we know so far

Apple iPhone 15: What we know so far

The dust has barely settled since the much-hyped iPhone 14 launch, but there’s already been plenty of talk surrounding Apple’s next flagship devices, which are slated to launch next year.

This isn’t much of a surprise, as Apple is developing future products and has an extensive roadmap for its portfolio.

Early reports suggest that the iPhone 14 line, especially the Pro model, is a hit with consumers.

Queues at Apple stores in the United Arab Emirates were long, and some customers bought multiple devices that left others empty-handed. Delivery times have also been pushed back and resellers are now offering units at inflated prices.

Moving away from the present and looking to the future, Apple’s next line of flagship devices, presumably called the iPhone 15, is set to launch in September 2023.

Here’s what we know so far – although these are still very early rumours.

Design: all iPhone 15 models to use the pill and hole combo

The iPhone X in 2017 (when the highly polarizing notch was introduced) and the iPhone 12 a few years ago (a throwback to the iconic geometric design last seen in the iPhone 5) saw some of the changes most important in the design of the iPhone.

This year, the notch was finally replaced with pill and hole cutouts, but only on the iPhone 14 Pro models. This powers the Dynamic Island feature, which allows users to access multiple functions on a single screen.

Next year, Apple plans to roll out the feature across the entire iPhone 15 lineup, said Ross Young, managing director of Display Supply Chain Consultants, a market intelligence firm.

It looks like Apple is using the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max to test the reception of Dynamic Island and what it can do to improve it further.

While rumors of an in-display fingerprint scanner are also swirling around, there are no more details about that just yet.

Camera upgrade: a periscope zoom lens

This had already been started by Ming-Chi Kuo, known for leaking very reliable information related to Apple, in December last year.

A periscope lens is, without getting too technical, a setup that allows for greater amounts of optical zoom. This uses the actual hardware to magnify a higher quality image (as opposed to digital zoom, which relies on software).

A handful of smartphone makers have already introduced the technology into their devices, including Samsung Electronics, Huawei Technologies, and Oppo.

Mr Kuo had previously predicted that the periscope lens would come in the iPhone 14 – but, obviously, that didn’t happen, so it’s a feature that could be present on the next iteration of the device.

He also said over a year ago that the 2023 iPhones would feature an edge-to-edge design with no holes, although there are no updates at this point.

Lightning port to be replaced by USB-C

Apple has used its proprietary Lightning port and connector since the iPhone 5 a decade ago. Talk of Apple replacing it with USB-C has been around for a few years, and when the company rolled it into the 2018 iPad Pro, speculation accelerated.

However, five years have passed since the iPad change and the iPhone is still using lightning to this day. Apple is known to be very protective of its proprietary technologies, which are important in ensuring control over the security of its ecosystem.

The fact that iPads now use USB-C is a clear signal that Apple is ready to make a total change. But it could conceivably delay the change because it comes down to how to handle lightning-related inventory and manufacturing.

Multiple sources reportedly confirmed to Mr. Kuo and Bloomberg technology reporter Mark Gurman, who has a long history of accurate reporting on Apple’s product plans, that the switch to USB-C for iPhones is not not a question of if, but when.

Kuo said other Apple products — including AirPods, MagSafe accessories and Magic Mouse — could also switch to USB-C.

Add to that the fact that new European regulations on electronic device input standardization are putting pressure on device manufacturers, and Apple’s switch to USB-C would be inevitable.

Also remember: Apple has its own take on USB-C with its Thunderbolt technology used in Macs. We can therefore assume that the company is trying to differentiate its USB-C from the others, just as it does with other existing technologies.

Upgrade to 3nm chips

The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max use Apple’s new A16 Bionic chip, which is built on a 4-nanometer process. It wasn’t too long ago that smartphone makers were using 10nm processors in their devices, but they realized they could be smaller while still increasing performance and efficiency.

In the semiconductor industry, the nanometer does not refer to the actual size of a chip but to the distance between the transistors it contains; the smaller the number, the more transistors can be integrated. This makes the chips more powerful and efficient, but they can be more expensive to produce.

Apple is set to take a “lower” step next year as it is set to use a 3nm chip from one of its major vendors, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC), in the iPhone. 15, sources said. Nikkei Asia.

However, just like this year, the upgrade will be limited to the higher-end iPhone 15 units – which again are expected to be the Pro and Pro Max, with some rumors floating around of an “Ultra” device as well, according to the report.

The shift to smaller chips has already started in the industry. Samsung, the world’s largest mobile phone maker and Apple’s main rival in the smartphone market, announced in June that it had started manufacturing its own 3nm processors.

In the process, Samsung beat TSMC to the coin toss by making 3nm chips. The latter had previously announced that it would start manufacturing 3nm processors in the second half of 2022, with Apple as its first customer.

The South Korean company said that 3nm chips, compared to 5nm ones, can achieve up to 23% improved performance and 45% less power consumption. This last item ties into one of the potentially biggest performance updates for the upcoming iPhones.

Reduction of energy consumption

With Apple due to use TSMC’s 3nm chips, the iPhone 15 Pro models are set to be more energy efficient, according to figures provided by the semiconductor maker.

TSMC’s 3nm technology will deliver “up to 70% gain in logic density, up to 15% improvement in speed at the same power, and up to 30% reduction in power at the same speed compared to at N5 [5nm] technology,” its website says.

It’s unclear whether the industry’s supply chain challenges — which have impacted the production capabilities of Apple and its peers — will persist into next year. TSMC, however, said volume production of the new chip is scheduled for the second half of 2022.

Updated: September 23, 2022, 06:12

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