Apple's iPhone lineup has always been at the forefront of technological innovation, captivating the world with each new iteration. As we eagerly anticipate the iPhone 15 series release, rumors, leaks, and speculations about the highly anticipated 2023 models are at full steam.
From enhanced features to groundbreaking design elements, the 2023 iPhone 15 series is poised to redefine the smartphone landscape like its predecessors. Some features will be exclusive to the Pro models that always have a higher price, but the lower-end models are still expected to receive significant updates. Let's delve into the latest rumors surrounding Apple's upcoming flagship device, giving you a glimpse into what might be in store for iPhone enthusiasts worldwide.
Jump to a section: Release Date | Names | Sizes | Colors | Bezels | Curved Glass | Frosted Glass | Titanium Frame | Dynamic Island | Display Brightness | Action Button | USB-C | Periscope Lens | Camera Quality | Camera Bumps | A17 Bionic | Qualcomm Modem | MagSafe | Wi-Fi 6E | eSim-only
Releases This Fall
The iPhone 15 series models are expected to launch in September 2023, following Apple's typical release timeline. The exact date, however, is hard to pinpoint.
Since the iPhone 5:
- All main iPhone events have been in September except the iPhone 12 series, which was pushed back because of the coronavirus.
- Six out of 11 September events occurred on a Tuesday.
- There have been no September events before the 7th of the month.
- At least one model was available in September for preorder on the Friday following the announcement, except the iPhone 12 series.
- At least one model was released in September on the Friday following preorders, except the iPhone 12 series.
One analyst predicts the release will happen on September 22. Reports indicate that Apple is getting a head start this year with production, so an early to mid-month release makes sense. That leaves us with the most likely timeline of:
- September 12 (announcement); 15 (preorders); 22 (release)
If the announcement happens on Wednesday, that would make it September 13.
Similar Naming Scheme
It's still unclear what each iPhone model will be called, but the 2023 lineup will likely be the iPhone 15 series if Apple sticks to its current numbering scheme.
We expect four different iPhone models, just as the last three generations had. They are rumored to have the same device names as last year's iPhone 14 series models — and the same or maybe even slightly larger display sizes.
- iPhone 15
- iPhone 15 Plus
- iPhone 15 Pro
- iPhone 15 Pro Max
One rumor suggests that Apple will switch the Pro Max to an Ultra, giving us the iPhone 15, 15 Max, 15 Pro, and 15 Ultra. However, more recent rumors indicate that Apple will wait until the iPhone 16 series to use that naming convention because it wants to create distinct tiers with exclusive features on each device to justify the price difference. The latest rumor points to the "Ultra" as being a whole new device, a tier above the other four models.
So what about an iPhone 15 mini? It's unlikely there will be a new iPhone model with a screen smaller than 6 inches. If we get a smaller model, it may be a few years from now or another SE version.
The iPhone 15 series models are expected to be the same sizes as last year's devices, meaning two 6.1-inch models and two 6.7-inch ones. There were some CAD leaks and other rumors suggesting the sizes may be bumped up a little. For example, the standard iPhone 15 could have a 6.2-inch display. However, there have been no corroborating leaks yet to back that up, and more recent leaks indicate the iPhone 16 series will be the one to get a significant size adjustment.
- iPhone 15 (6.1-inch)
- iPhone 15 Plus (6.7-inch)
- iPhone 15 Pro (6.1-inch)
- iPhone 15 Pro Max (6.7-inch)
Expanded Color Options
With each new generation, Apple tends to bring fresh colors to its devices, and this year should be no different. The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus models are expected to include an eye-catching cyan color option. Additionally, the highly anticipated iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max versions are expected to make a statement with a striking deep red color variant.
The iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max will have thinner bezels, while the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus will likely stay the same. The Pro models are expected to showcase the thinnest bezels ever seen on an iPhone — and on smartphones in general. Currently, the Xiaomi 13 holds the record for the thinnest bezels, at 1.81 mm, but the 15 Pro models are rumored to be as thin as 1.55 mm.
This significant design improvement maximizes the screen-to-body ratio, offering users a more immersive and visually stunning experience. Apple's dedication to reducing bezel size demonstrates its commitment to pushing the boundaries of smartphone design.
Curved Glass Edges
The rumors have been persistent that the new iPhone 15 series models will feature a slight curvature at the edges of the front and back glass where they meet the frame. The last models with curved glass edges were in the iPhone 11 series. With thinner bezels expected for the iPhone 15 series, the curve should be subtle, but it will still offer a more ergonomic and comfortable grip.
Frosted Glass for All
Setsuna Digital, a popular Weibo user who has predicted a few iPhone features accurately before, suggests that the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus models will feature a frosted back glass design just as the iPhone 15 Pro models. A textured matte back glass design offers a sleek, sophisticated look and comfortable feel akin to the existing iPhone 14 Pro models.
If the rumors are correct, the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max models will come with a premium titanium frame instead of stainless steel. Titanium, known for its lightweight and robust properties, would add less weight to the Pro models. At this point, it's hard to tell if the titanium alloy Apple chooses will be as strong or stronger than the surgical-grade stainless steel on past Pro models.
The iPhone 15 and 15 Plus will likely retain their aluminum build.
Dynamic Island for All
Dynamic Island was introduced as an exclusive feature of iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max models. In 2023, it should come to all four iPhone 15 series models, unifying the pill and hole cutouts across devices. The overall look will be similar to Dynamic Island on the iPhone 14 Pro models, but the proximity sensor will be placed within it, not situation outside like it is now.
It's also expected to include a touch-sensitive area beneath the display that adapts dynamically to provide contextual controls, shortcuts, and enhanced gestures.
2,500 Nits Peak Brightness
It's typical for Apple to use Samsung's latest OLED screens for its iPhone models, and this will probably be the case with the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max.
Samsung is reportedly developing a next-generation display panel capable of achieving an impressive luminance level of 2,500 nits. The panel's high brightness capability can improve HDR content playback and increase visibility in bright outdoor environments.
So we can expect a Super Retina XDR, all-screen OLED display with 2,500 nits peak brightness outdoors. Since nits use a logarithmic scale, a 2,500-nit peak isn't necessarily 25% brighter than the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max's 2,000-nit peak, but you should still see a notable difference outdoors. Currently, peak brightness for typical and HDR are unknown.
Plenty of early rumors stated that the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max would get capacitive solid-state buttons with haptic feedback to replace the familiar physical Side, Volume, and Ring/Silent buttons. But recent talks suggest that this will likely happen on the iPhone 16 Pro series in 2024.
Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and Haitong International Securities' Jeff Pu both believe the iPhone 15 Pro series will retain the traditional mechanical buttons because of production issues with the complexity and higher cost of solid-state buttons.
However, the rumors are still strong that the Ring/Silent switch will be replaced with a new Action button similar to the one the Apple Watch Ultra has. This rumored Action button would still work as a mute switch. It may also work in camera apps to focus and take photos and videos, aid in powering off the iPhone with the Side button, and be programmable to perform specific user-chosen actions.
USB Type-C, Not Lightning
Apple is reportedly changing the iPhone 15 series lineup by replacing the Lightning port with a USB-C port. This move is primarily driven by new European regulations, which require Apple to offer USB-C ports on iPhones sold in the region. This means Apple has to adopt USB-C worldwide or create specific iPhone models for European markets.
According to reliable sources like Bloomberg's Mark Gurman and Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the transition to USB-C will allow Apple customers to charge their Macs, iPhones, and iPads using a single charging standard. This streamlined approach brings convenience and consistency to Apple's ecosystem.
The iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max models with USB-C ports are expected to support higher-speed data transfers, providing a notable advantage over the standard iPhone 15 and 15 Plus models. Kuo suggests that the Pro models will support USB 3.2 or even Thunderbolt 3, offering significantly faster transfer speeds. USB 3.2 supports speeds up to 20Gb/s, while Thunderbolt 3 can potentially achieve speeds up to 40Gb/s, revolutionizing the efficiency of data transfers.
It's worth noting that iPhone 15 series will reportedly support only USB-C accessories certified under the Apple Made for iPhone (MFi) program. This move is believed to allow Apple to control and ensure compatibility and quality standards. However, there are indications that non-MFi-certified cables will work but may be limited in data transfer and charging speeds. Additionally, Ming-Chi Kuo suggests that Apple may require MFi certification for USB-C chargers capable of fast charging the iPhone.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max is expected to include a 12-megapixel periscope lens instead of the regular telephoto lens that the iPhone 14 Pro Max and other iPhone models sport. A periscope lens would enhance optical zoom capabilities and improve long-range photography without necessarily making the camera bump thicker.
According to supply chain sources, Apple has reportedly chosen a renowned supplier (Largan) to provide the periscope lens technology for the iPhone 15 Pro Max. This new lens will allow the iPhone 15 Pro Max to significantly enhance optical zoom capabilities, potentially offering up to 10x optical zoom compared to the maximum 3x optical zoom of its iPhone 14 Pro series predecessor. However, some sources have claimed it will max out at 6x optical zoom.
Better Camera Quality
Speaking of cameras, the lower-end models of the iPhone 15 series — the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus — could get a significant bump in quality. According to analyst Jeff Pu, they will feature an impressive 48-megapixel rear camera lens, though lidar would be reserved for the Pro series still. This new lens will utilize a three-stacked sensor, allowing for enhanced image quality by capturing more light. Apple first brought the 48 MP camera lens to the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, enabling users to capture detailed ProRAW photos for increased editing flexibility.
The iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max may also see an increase in quality due to a new sensor technology that could "capture more light and reduce overexposure or underexposure in certain settings, enabling a smartphone camera to clearly photograph a person's face even if the subject is standing against a strong backlight."
Larger Camera Bumps
The iPhone 15, 15 Plus, and 15 Pro are all expected to have thicker camera bumps on the rear. While it's expected on the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus due to the new 48-megapixel lens, the iPhone 15 Pro's camera protrusion will be even larger. It could be because of the new sensor, but there may also be a bump in resolution for one of the lenses.
Interestingly, the iPhone 15 Pro Max may actually have a smaller camera bump than the iPhone 14 Pro Max and 15 Pro because of the periscope lens.
A17 Bionic SoC
The iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max's A17 Bionic chipset is making waves in the tech world. Built on a cutting-edge 3-nanometer fabrication process, this powerhouse chipset has shattered speed benchmarks, setting new records for single- and multi-core performance. Outperforming rival flagship devices, the A17 Bionic chip showcases its incredible processing capabilities, delivering lightning-fast speeds and unrivaled responsiveness.
As with the iPhone 14 series, the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus are expected to utilize the older chip while the Pro models get the new one. That means the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus would get the A16 Bionic, an improvement over the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus' A15 Bionic.
Next-Gen Qualcomm Modem
The upcoming iPhone 15 series will incorporate Qualcomm's next-generation 5G modem technology. This move will enhance the device's 5G capabilities, offering improved performance, faster speeds, and more reliable connectivity.
MagSafe Is Here to Stay
All four models of the iPhone 15 are expected to feature support for MagSafe wireless charging, continuing the trend seen in recent iPhone generations. This means users will be able to conveniently charge their devices wirelessly using MagSafe-compatible accessories, providing a seamless and efficient charging experience.
According to Ming-Chi Kuo, the upcoming iPhone 15 series models are expected to feature support for Wi-Fi 6E. This new wireless connectivity standard offers several advantages, including faster speeds, increased capacity, and reduced congestion on the network. With Wi-Fi 6E, iPhone 15 series users can look forward to improved wireless performance and an enhanced browsing and streaming experience. Some rumors suggest that the Pro models will be the only ones with Wi-Fi 6E support, and the lower-end models will be stuck with Wi-Fi 6.
eSIM-Only for More Countries
Last year, the iPhone 14 series models in the United States were all eSIM-only, meaning they didn't have a physical SIM card slot as all its predecessors. This was not the case for models outside the U.S., which retained both.
The iPhone 15 series models in the U.S. are also expected to be eSIM-only, but eSIM-only may spread to France and other countries. So instead of using a physical SIM card, users would rely solely on an embedded electronic SIM card for their cellular connectivity. The move towards eSIM technology could provide greater flexibility for users and potentially simplify the process of switching carriers. However, it could also restrict users from using cheaper SIM card-only plans.
The rollout to eSIM-only iPhone models will likely be slow since every country's cellular connectivity adaption differs.
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