The iPhone has been in a state of ruthless evolution ever since its inception in 2007. With the threat of competition looming ever greater over the tech giant’s dominant market share, Apple engineers are under tremendous pressure to accelerate the development of new features for their flagship product. Although Apple has yet to make any formal announcements, countless rumors about the iPhone 15 have surfaced in recent months. From photo leaks to detailed CAD models, we’ve been able to construct a compelling picture of what to expect in September.
iPhone 15 Screen: A Brilliant Upgrade
Based on the testimonies of various historically reliable sources, we are set to witness exciting improvements in screen size and layout for the iPhone 15. Earlier this year, IceUniverse, an industry insider who’s made accurate predictions about Apple products in the past, leaked a detailed blueprint of the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
iPhone 15 Pro Max size：— ICE UNIVERSE (@UniverseIce) February 25, 2023
159.86 mm × 76.73 mm × 8.25 mm，Including the camera, the total thickness is 11. 84 mm pic.twitter.com/cqMsl4yUEa
The device is described as having dimensions of 159.86 × 76.73 × 8.25 mm. With these numbers being so similar to the 160.7 x 77.6 x 7.85 mm dimensions of the iPhone 14 Pro Max, we can expect the iPhone 15 series to have the same display sizes as current offerings. The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max are expected to have diagonal lengths of 6.7”, while the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus will stick to 6.1”. Interestingly, rumors have been circulating that all four models of the next iPhone generation will have Dynamic Islands. For this reason, we may see slightly taller 6.2” screens for the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus to accommodate.
Samsung's UDR2000 panel was used by the iPhone 14 Pro series. There's a good chance Samsung's next-gen panel will similarly power the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. (SamMobile, Asif Iqbal Shaik)
There have been no leaked details surrounding screen resolution enhancements to date. On the bright side, we have received news of significant developments in the iPhone’s screen brightness. According to ShrimpApplePro, the iPhone 15 Pro Max may come equipped with a Samsung panel capable of reaching an incredible 2500 nits of brightness. For reference, the iPhone 14 Pro Max peaks at 2000 nits under only the brightest outdoor circumstances. Given that the powerful display of the iPhone 14 gave it a distinct advantage over competitors, such an upgrade to the iPhone 15 Pro Max would easily elevate it to elite status. In addition, the OLED display of the iPhone 15 has been optimized for greater power-efficiency. In a report from the Economic Daily News, specialists reveal that the iPhone 15 will move to a 28nm OLED display chip from the current 40nm chip. This improvement could result in reduced power consumption and potentially longer battery life for all iPhone 15 models.
According to yeux112, a leaker from the Korean blog Naver, the next iteration of iPhones will once again feature adaptive 120Hz ProMotion technology. Refresh rate, measured in Hz, describes how many times a screen’s static image changes per second. Higher rates enable smoother animations and make touch input feel noticeably faster to users. In all likelihood, the 120Hz refresh rate will only be available for the iPhone 15 Pro series, while the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus will retain a modest 60Hz. If true, this would be the third year in a row Apple limits the highest refresh rates to their most expensive models.
iPhone 15 Frame: Sleek Reinforcements
In February, 9to5Mac obtained documents containing models of the iPhone 15 Plus and iPhone 15 Pro that were later rendered in CAD by 3D artist Ian Zelbo. These were similar to the IceUniverse leaks in nature, and shed further light on other iPhone 15 models. This report labels the dimensions of the iPhone 15 Plus as 160.87 x 77.76 x 7.81 mm, making it slightly taller, narrower, and thicker than the iPhone 14 Plus. Meanwhile, the iPhone 15 Pro is described as 146.47 x 70.46 x 8.24 mm, a bit smaller and thicker than its predecessor. Unfortunately, 9to5Mac does not report any data on the standard iPhone 15 model.
3D model of the iPhone 15 Plus based on CAD leaks. (madmix)
The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max will be fitted with exceptionally slimmer bezels. In fact, IceUniverse revealed that the Pro series might even set the benchmark for the slimmest smartphone bezels ever upon release. The leaked CAD models show that the iPhone 15 Pro could have just 1.55mm bezels, significantly smaller than the 1.81mm bezels of the current record-holder, the Xiaomi 13. Based on these measurements, the iPhone 15 Pro would see an astonishing 30% reduction in bezel width compared to the iPhone 14 Pro. In addition, according to 9to5Mac, the iPhone 15 Pro will feature deeper curves and a rounder frame. Its 2.5D front glass will curve into the edges of the device, seamlessly merging with its frame and creating the “bezel-less” effect often seen in Android phones. These changes will be exclusive for the Pro series, while the regular models will have flatter edges like the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus. Drawing from the same CAD blueprints, the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max will also have the added protection of a sleek titanium frame. Upgrading to titanium alloy could potentially result in a weight reduction of up to 10% compared to the iPhone 14 Pro Max, while also increasing durability.
The buttons of the iPhone 15 have been the subject of heavy online debate. In late 2022, industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo released a series of tweets suggesting that the iPhone 15 would replace physical side buttons with haptic ones. These solid-state buttons, Ming proposed, would function similarly to the iPhone 7’s home button and use haptic feedback to simulate physical pressing. Subsequently, multiple other reputable sources backed up this claim with convincing evidence. In April, however, Ming backtracked on his initial predictions after rumors emerged that Apple had abandoned the idea over technical difficulties. This was later verified when Apple supplier Cirrus Logic released a shareholder letter stating that iPhone 15s would lack a highly anticipated feature, hinting at the solid-state buttons. Despite this, the iPhone 15 Pro models will reportedly move forward with another long-awaited feature: the Action button. A replacement for the Mute switch, the Action button would offer customization options, potentially allowing the user to access a range of Accessibility features faster. For instance, the Flashlight, Low Power Mode, Camera, and Screen Lock could be switched on or off with a press of the Action button. Such a revamp would greatly enhance the iPhone 15’s versatility and user-friendliness.
Some rumors claim that the iPhone 15 Pro Max will have the same Action button that the Apple Watch Ultra has.
iPhone 15 Camera: Augmented Zoom!
We predict multiple substantial upgrades to the iPhone 15’s camera, both in performance and practicality. For starters, 48MP sensor technology will be extended to all iPhone 15 models, not just the Pro series like last year. The iPhone 15 Pro Max’s next-gen camera sensor will reportedly be larger than any previous iteration, forecasting better low-light capture, wider dynamic range, and higher image resolution. According to analyst Jeff Pu, base iPhone 15 models may adopt the 48MP sensors used by the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max.
iPhone 15 Concept Art based on CAD models. (Ian Zelbo)
One of the earliest iPhone 15 rumors suggested periscope lens technology and we’re seeing growing evidence to support this claim. Periscope lenses use mirrors or prisms to “fold” light and direct it towards an image sensor at 90 degrees, enabling greater zoom without making the camera thicker. At present, the iPhone 14 Pro Max is capable of reaching up to 3x magnification with a regular 12MP telephoto lens. The next generation of iPhones, equipped with a periscope lens, will be capable of up to 6x magnification at the same image quality. This impressive component will only be available for the iPhone 15 Pro Max, based on insights from both Ming-Chi Kuo and Unknownz21.
When the iPhone 14 was released, numerous complaints arose relating to its prominent camera bump. At 4.18mm, the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s camera system was the thickest of any iPhone. This was problematic, as it caused the device to feel clumsy when held and unbalanced on surfaces. Apple evidently took this feedback seriously, as despite acquiring enhanced zoom capabilities, the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s camera will protrude less than its predecessor. Measurements from the leaked CAD models reveal an updated camera depth of 3.59mm, a 0.59mm shrinkage.
iPhone 15 & USB-C: One Port to Rule Them All
The switch from Lightning to USB-C has without a doubt been the biggest expected design change to the iPhone 15. In a move to reduce e-waste and make life easier for consumers, the EU passed legislation to enforce universal USB-C adoption last October. This new law gave smartphone manufacturers until 2024 to make the transition, after which mobile devices lacking USB-C charging ports would be outlawed. In a public statement from Greg Joswiak, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Marketing, Apple conceded that they would comply with the EU’s ruling. It is not known for certain whether iPhone 15s outside of the EU will also use USB-C ports. However, based on insider findings and leaked photos, this will most likely be the case. ShrimpApplePro revealed in a Tweet that USB-C cables and earbuds have been in mass production for a while, pointing to preparations for large-scale USB-C implementation. Even more compelling is a set of close-up images posted by leaker Unknownz21 supposedly depicting an early model of the iPhone 15 Pro.
The image on the right appears to confirm the switch to USB-C for the iPhone 15 Pro. There is reason to suspect, though, that not all iPhone 15 models will have the same USB-C functions. In a survey conducted by Ming-Chi Kuo, the Apple analyst concludes that only the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max will support USB 3.2 or Thunderbolt 3. The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus, on the other hand, will continue to operate on USB 2.0 as iPhones of the past ten years have. In all likelihood, Pro users will enjoy greatly enhanced data transfer speeds and external display capabilities.
Apple has a reputation for being highly secretive ahead of product releases, and the iPhone 15 is hardly an exception. The iPhone 15 series could be armed with numerous next-generation technologies, including ultra-high brightness panels, polished titanium frames, versatile Action buttons, and periscope zoom lenses. It’s important to note, though, that none of these rumored upgrades have been set in stone. With three months left before Apple’s official announcement, there is plenty of time for new developments to overturn our expectations. Eager buyers will need to wait a little longer to truly unlock the secrets of the iPhone 15.