A USB-C socket instead of Lightning, titanium pro models and a reprogrammable mute switch were among features announced by Apple at its overnight iPhone launch in Cupertino.
As expected its updated iPhone 15 line-up comprised the base iPhone 15 model, iPhone 15 Plus, Pro and Pro Max models with updated processors, and better photography.
There was no entirely new product that would entice people to instantly ditch a recent model. We didn’t see Apple’s version of foldable phones like those being rolled out by Samsung, Motorola and Google, although Apple has filed many foldable phone patents.
But there was impressive improvements such as the 5x optical zoom available with a 120mm telephoto lens made possible by reflecting light four times inside the phone on the top-of-range Pro Max model. Quality zoom photography has proved the Achilles heel of smartphones generally.
Whether these new features help push sales remains to be seen given the general malaise in the smartphone market and the longer phone retention times in today’s tougher economic environment. Apple tries to keep the prices down, but iPhones these days are pricy.
In Australia the cheapest iPhone 15 model with a 6.1-inch display costs $1499, while the iPhone 15 Plus with a 6.7-inch screen starts at $1649. They will be available in pink, yellow, green, blue, and black with 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB storage capacities.
Pre-orders begin at 10pm this Friday September 15 with availability from September 22.
iPhone 15 Pro with a 6.06-inch display and 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB storage options costs from $1849 while the Pro Max with a 6.68-inch screen starts at $2199 with 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB storage capacities.
The most expensive iPhone of all, the iPhone 15 Pro Max with 1 terabyte of storage, will set you back $2899 in Australia.
Apple did announce a trade-in credit plan of $300-$1255 on iPhone 11 or later models, available from the Apple Store Online, or at Apple stores in Australia.
As with the base models, you can pre-order from this Friday with general availability the following Friday.
As predicted, Apple announced the pending death of its Lightning cable introduced in 2012 and the adoption of the standard USB-C on iPhone models and for the AirPods 15 charger. Lightning connectivity remains on some Apple devices such as lower-end iPads and Apple Pencil, but it’s the start of the end for Lightning.
This change has been forced on Apple by the European Union which has demanded the standardisation of cables with USB-C the obvious solution across the board.
Apple did announce a proprietary cable capable of USB-C speeds up to 10 gigabits per second. It highlighted the use of this speed when announcing the Pro Max iPhone aimed at professional photographers transferring images from iPhones to Macs.
Improved brightness was a key theme across both the new iPhone and Apple Watch ranges. Apple says the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus feature OLED displays with Dolby Vision capable of up to 2000 nits brightness.
The Dynamic Island feature across the top of the display is being extended. You’ll be able to track deliveries, check the gates for flights and how long until boarding time at airports, and more.
Apple has included a 48MP lens on the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus. It was announced last year on iPhone 14 premium models. The camera system can produce 24 Megapixel photos with double the resolution of last year. Apple claims a practical file size for storage and sharing with its HEIC (high efficiency image container) format.
Continuous zoom is available when taking video, and machine learning will automatically switch your camera to portrait mode. You will be able to switch the focus from one part of an image to another in post processing.
Apple also touted the benefits of its ultrawideband chip which has been souped up to operates at three times the distance.
For example, you’ll be able use the Find My feature to be directed to a friend you have lost sight of at the Sunday markets.
Machine learning will learn your voice and filter out distractive noises to improve call quality.
The emergency SOS messaging via satellite has been extended to include calling roadside assistance via satellite on your iPhone. It currently applies to AAA service in the US. Australian availability of this is unknown.
You get two years of satellite service free with iPhone 15.
Significantly, Apple did not announce taking satellite connectivity much further, as has been announced on some Android phones which are readying connecting to low earth orbit satellites for general calls and messaging. Apple started the trend to offering some satellite connectivity on regular phones but has not gone much further with this.
The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max models have much lighter titanium enclosures with recycled aluminium on the inside. Apple said they were using grade 5 titanium, the “same alloy used on the Mars Rover”.
Pro models are more repairable and come with a customisable action button. The little switch that you use for switching from ring to silent mode is now a button with haptic feedback. You can still use it for switching between ring and silent, but you can reprogram it to start audio recording or to take a portrait photo.
Apple touted the benefits of its A17 Pro chip with a 6-core CPU found on the pro models. The GPU chips features 19 billion 3-nanometre transistors which are 12 atoms wide, with a 10 percent increase in performance.
The neural engine can perform 35 trillion operations per second. A benefit is the ability to process Siri requests on-device rather than through the cloud, and hardware accelerated ray tracing for games, which it says is more efficient that software ray tracing.
Assassins Creed is among games to be available natively on iPhone Pro models.
Apple pitched the camera capabilities at professional photographers and videographers. The standout is the capability of the Pro Max model with 5 x optical zoom at a 120mm photo length.
Decent optical zoom has been a limitation of smartphone photography. Add in macro photography, and the focal length ranges from 13 to 120mm focal length. Transfers of images and video to Macs and external drives would be almost instantaneous with Apple’s proprietary USB-C cable.
Cameras are capable of spatial video capture that can be viewed on Apple’s Vision Pro mixed reality headset.
Published by Channel News Australia.