iPhone 15: All the Rumors, Leaks and Hype Ahead of Apple's Sept. 12 Event
The rumor mill is buzzing about a significant upgrade to the iPhone. But don't expect a foldable device from Apple this year.
Sareena DayaramSenior Editor
Sareena is a senior editor for CNET covering the mobile beat including device reviews. She is a seasoned multimedia journalist with more than a decade's worth of experience producing stories for television and digital publications across Asia's financial capitals including Singapore, Hong Kong, and Mumbai. Prior to CNET, Sareena worked at CNN as a news writer and Reuters as a producer.
Some of the big questions people are asking are: Will the iPhone 15 get a USB-C port? Will the iPhone 15 series have slimmer bezels? Will Apple increase iPhone prices in 2023? Will the Pro models receive bigger upgrades?
We won't know for sure until Apple throws the next iPhone event. But here are some of the biggest and most credible rumors to give you an idea of what to expect from the iPhone 15 series.
Watch this: What to Expect at Apple's Sept. 12 Event
If that happens, the question is whether Apple will switch all iPhone models to USB-C or just those sold in the EU. Apple already modifies iPhone models regionally, as it has done with the iPhone 14: The US version has an electronic SIM, while other variants retain the SIM slot. However, there are good reasons to move all iPhones to USB-C moving forward, according to Avi Greengart, analyst at Techsponential.
"There are larger ecosystem, security, and accessory considerations with the power/data connector, so I think it is more likely that Apple moves all iPhones [globally] to USB-C in the iPhone 16 timeframe to comply with European regulations," he told CNET in an email.
According to seasoned Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman, only the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max models will receive USB-C ports this year. Perhaps a complete transition could happen next year with the iPhone 16.
iPhone 15 design: Dynamic Island expands to all models
Apple is likely to continue selling four iPhone models with the iPhone 15 lineup. Rumors point to a generally similar design across the board, except that the iPhone 14 Pro's shape-shifting cutout, known as Dynamic Island, is set to make its way across all models.
That rumor comes from display analyst Ross Young, who also said in a September tweet that he's not expecting base iPhone 15 models to have a higher refresh rate like Apple's Pro iPhones because the supply chain can't support it. Gurman also still expects this to pan out as indicated by the Jun. 30 edition of his Power On newsletter.
Watch this: Expect Big Changes in iPhone 15 — Including Price
iPhone 15 design: Skinnier bezels
According to Gurman, Apple's expected to use a new manufacturing technology called "low-injection pressure over-molding" to make the Pro iPhones. This is the same method that's used for some Apple Watch models. It will help Apple reduce the size of the bezels by fractions of a millimeter, which would in turn allow for an ever-so-slight increase in screen real estate.
iPhone 15 design: Easier repairability
The interiors of the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are also slated for a redesign that will make them easier to repair, according to the latest edition of Gurman's Power On newsletter. Gurman says the inside parts have been changed to match the ones in the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus, which received the internal changes last year.
"This is the iPhone 14 reborn as a beautiful butterfly -- a midframe in the middle, accessible screen on the left, and removable rear glass on the right," iFixit wrote in a post last September after the iPhone event.
Interestingly, Apple didn't discuss this internal redesign in its keynote, but the change was spotted by repair experts at iFixit, who said it was evident that Apple went back to the drawing board to rework the internals and integrate them seamlessly into its iPhones.
iPhone 15: Upgraded ultra wideband
According to noted Apple analyst Ming Chi Kuo, the iPhone 15 will run on an upgraded Ultra Wideband processor, which Apple calls the U1 chip, to better integrate with the company's new AR headset, the Vision Pro. UWB is a short-range wireless communication standard often used to track down the location of objects. It can pinpoint your Apple AirTag or unlock your car as you walk up to it with your phone. In a recent post on Twitter, Kuo said this is all part of Apple's broader strategy to "build a more competitive ecosystem for Vision Pro."
iPhone 15: Wireless charging upgrade
According to a May report by ChargerLab, a power specialist website with a steady track record, all iPhone 15 models will support 15-watt wireless charging using the Qi2 open standard. If this turns out to be true, it'll mean the iPhone 15 could open up a whole new world of wireless charging devices that can replenish the device at its full speed. Apple had previously limited open wireless charging standards to 7.5W, leaving the full 15W charge speed for Apple MagSafe licensed accessories.
Noted Apple observer Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst with TF International Securities, forecasts that the iPhone 15 Pro Max will receive a periscope-style telephoto lens. This sort of telephoto lens allows for higher optical zoom levels, which would equip that iPhone with better capabilities for shooting distant objects. Kuo forecasts that 6x optical zoom could arrive in the iPhone 15 Pro Max. For reference, the optical zoom on the iPhone 14 Pro Max stands at 3x, which lags rivals such as the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra's 10x optical zoom. This rumor was recently bolstered by well-known leak source and Twitter user Unknownz21, who stated that the Pro Max model will come with the special lens.
iPhone 15 design: Solid-state buttons come to pro iPhone 15 models
Kuo expects Apple to differentiate further between its base and Pro models in the coming years. One way he's expecting that to happen is by way of solid-state volume and power buttons of the iPhone 15 Pro models instead of the standard keys present on today's devices.
The solid-state buttons, which Kuo says will be similar to the home button found on the iPhone SE and iPhone 7, mimic the tactile feel of pressing a button with the help of haptic feedback. The apparent advantage of this type of button is that it also protects against water ingress.
Watch this: No Real Buttons on iPhone 15 Pro? This Rumor Has Me Worried
iPhone 15 Power: Increased RAM for pro models
According to Taiwanese research firm TrendForce, Pro models of the iPhone 15 lineup will get a bump up in RAM to 8GB from 6GB to complement the anticipated A17 Bionic chipset. Base models will continue to receive 6GB RAM, according to TrendForce. This rumor is also apparently backed up by a research report from analyst Jeff Pu of Haitong International Securities, according to a MacRumors article, which referenced Pu's report.
Watch this: iPhone 14 and 14 Pro 3-Month Review: More to Offer
According to a MacRumors report, citing Barclays analyst Tim Long, the iPhone 15 Pro could cost $100 more than the iPhone 14 Pro, while the iPhone Pro Max price hike could be in the range of $100 to $200 more. A similar claim has been made by Jeff Pu, of investment firm Haitong International Securities, who explicity said the iPhone 15 Pro Max specifically is due for a price increase, according to another MacRumors report. This is based on the assumption that Apple will add more features and components to the Pro models, such as a new periscope camera, a titanium frame and a 3nm A17 Bionic chip.
US prices currently range from $829 for the entry-level iPhone 14 model (128GB) all the way up to $1,599 for the highest-end iPhone 14 Pro Max with 1TB of storage.
Another possibility is the upper limit of the price range could be pushed higher if rumors about a luxe iPhone 15 Ultra turn out to be true. The rumored Ultra model could potentially replace the iPhone 15 Pro Max next year, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman wrote in September last year. This falls in line with predictions from Kuo, who expects Apple to differentiate further between the iPhone Pro and iPhone Pro Max models. However, in his June 30 newsletter, Gurman made no mention of the iPhone 15 Ultra. Other rumors suggest that the iPhone 15 Ultra will be a step up from the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
According to tipster Revengus, the iPhone 15 Ultra will feature a telephoto camera with a variable zoom lens, which is the camera setup rumored to feature on Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra. Variable optical zoom (continuous zoom) cameras aren't commonly found on smartphones for a variety of reasons, including the fact that the size and design of phone cameras restricts the type of lenses that can be used.
iPhone 15: Launch and release timeline
Apple holds its annual iPhone event in September almost every year, so we'd expect the timeline to remain the same for the iPhone 15. New iPhones typically get released shortly thereafter, usually the Friday of the following week. Sometimes Apple will stagger release dates for specific models, especially when introducing a new design or size. So it's possible that the iPhone 15 lineup will have more than one release date.
Here's what we know:
Apple tends to hold its events on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. Apple's iPhone 14 event was held on Wednesday Sept. 7, while its iPhone 13 event was held on Tuesday, Sept. 14.
iPhone release dates are typically a week and a half after Apple's announcements.
In general, new iPhones are released on a Friday, around the third week of September. For the iPhone 13, preorders began Sept. 17 and the phones went on sale Sept. 24.