iPhone 15 Pro vs iPhone 16 Pro: Should you buy the new iPhone or wait?

iPhone 15 Pro Max mockup with thin bezels
(Image credit: Unbox Therapy / YouTube)

Apple’s rumored to announce its new iPhone 15 lineup very soon at the Apple September event, where we’ll no doubt be finally greeted to the iPhone 15 Pro. Even though we’re still a good year away from getting its eventual successor, an iPhone 15 Pro vs. iPhone 16 Pro face-off is worth diving into now if you’re hung up on whether to upgrade — or wait another year to make the switch.

There’s a lot of anticipation around the iPhone 15 Pro due to the marked upgrades it’s tipped to get, like a sturdier titanium frame, upgraded camera sensor, beefier A17 Bionic chip, and swapping Apple’s Lightning port in favor of USB-C. If that’s not enough, its sibling in the iPhone 15 Pro Max is getting its own exclusives, making both flagships the biggest leap since the iPhone X.

Deciding on whether to upgrade to the iPhone 15 Pro is made tougher when some of its rumored features may actually come later with the iPhone 16 Pro. Apple’s year off flagship phone is still in the early stages of development, but it doesn’t hurt to see what it brings to the table.

In this iPhone 15 Pro vs. iPhone 16 Pro preview, we’ll detail what features both flagship phones may get to give you a better idea which could be the better upgrade.

iPhone 15 Pro vs iPhone 16 Pro: Price and availability

Apple iPhone 14 Pro vs Apple iPhone 12 Pro side-by-side comparison.

(Image credit: Future)

Apple has yet to officially announce a date for its fall September iPhone event, but fingers point to September 13. We’ll also learn more about the other devices in the lineup, such as the iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro Max, and perhaps the iPhone 15 Ultra as well.

While the smaller ‘pro’ iPhone has remained at the $999 price point for the last few generations now, the iPhone 15 Pro could potentially see its price increased by $100 — giving it a starting cost of $1,099 at the very least. This increase in price could be due to an assortment of things, but Apple could very well surprise us all at its event by keeping its price unchanged.

Meanwhile, we suspect for Apple to unveil the iPhone 16 Pro alongside the other models in the next-generation series at around the same time the following year. That would pin it at some time on September 2024, closer to the middle of the month to coincide with past events.

If Apple indeed increases the price of the iPhone 15 Pro, then the iPhone 16 Pro should remain the same as its predecessor. It would be unlike Apple to increase the price with back-to-back models. However, if the iPhone 15 Pro remains at the $999 price point, then it’s most certain that Apple will raise the price of the iPhone 16 Pro.

iPhone 15 Pro vs iPhone 16 Pro: Rumored specs

Apple iPhone 14 Pro vs Apple iPhone 12 Pro side-by-side comparison.

(Image credit: Future)
Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 iPhone 15 Pro (rumored and assumed)iPhone 16 Pro
Display6.1-inch OLED 6.3-inch MicroLED
Refresh rate120HzUp to 120Hz
CPUA17 BionicA18 Bionic
Rear cameras48MP main + 12MP ultrawide +12MP 3x telephoto48MP main + 12MP ultrawide +12MP 3x telephoto
Front Camera12MP12MP
Battery3,650 mAh3,650 mAh

iPhone 15 Pro vs iPhone 16 Pro: Design and display

Based on all the leaks, it appears that Apple’s ditching the flat edged design of the current iPhone 14 Pro and returning to a design with curved edges for the iPhone 15 Pro. Other big changes expected to accompany the iPhone 15 Pro’s design include a programmable Action button that’s taking the place of the current mute switch, USB-C port, and perhaps a stronger, more durable titanium frame.

We suspect the iPhone 16 Pro to look largely the same, since it’s very rare for Apple to make dramatic aesthetic changes in back-to-back iPhones. Nevertheless, the most intriguing design change rumored for the iPhone 16 Pro involves an under-display Face ID — which would replace the current notch and Dynamic Island. Rather than seeing the usual elongated notch, there would only be a cutout for the selfie camera.

You could argue there would be a bigger change between their respective Super Retina Displays, especially considering how the iPhone 16 Pro could benefit with a more seamless look due to the non-existent notch. Apple’s expected to give the iPhone 15 Pro the same 6.1-inch Super Retina display as the current iPhone 14 Pro, but it could have even smaller bezels.

For the iPhone 16 Pro, however, we expect even more changes with the display. For starters, it could see its size increase to 6.3-inches — while a MicroLED display could make an appearance. This would replace the OLED screens that the series has been employing, and could offer increased brightness, improved contrast, and greater efficiency. Considering how the OLED-based iPhone 14 Pro achieved strong brightness output and long battery life, MicroLED display technology could boost the iPhone 16 Pro over its competition to a higher level.

iPhone 15 Pro vs iPhone 16 Pro: Cameras

Apple iPhone 14 Pro vs Apple iPhone 12 Pro side-by-side comparison.

(Image credit: Future)

Apple’s iPhones have been widely acclaimed for their photo capturing abilities, so we anticipate nothing less than perfection in an iPhone 15 Pro vs. iPhone 16 Pro camera comparison. Leaks suggest the iPhone 15 Pro will be packing along a brand new sensor to back a triple camera arrangement: 48MP main, 12MP ultrawide, and 12MP 3x telephoto. That sensor’s expected to be nearly an inch across with a potential “triple-stacked” design, allowing the camera to produce brighter and more colorful photos.

There are very few leaks around the iPhone 16 Pro’s cameras thus far, so we’d expect for it to at least match the iPhone 15 Pro’s upgrades. While recent leaks squashed the idea of the iPhone 15 Pro getting the same 6x telephoto camera expected to be included with the iPhone 15 Pro Max, it could potentially make it in the iPhone 16 Pro — along with any sensor and feature changes you’d expect in a successor.

We’ve detailed how the iPhone 15 Pro could become an even more formidable video camera, but the iPhone 16 Pro could make even bigger leaps.

iPhone 15 Pro vs iPhone 16 Pro: Performance

Apple’s tradition of introducing new silicon has been largely reserved for its ‘pro’ iPhones, which should be no different for the upcoming iPhone 15 Pro. In fact, the rumored A17 Bionic chip is expected to launch us into the 3 nanometer manufacturing process — complete with 6 CPU and GPU cores. Not only would there be a tremendous boost to its processing power, but it could also yield even greater battery gains for the iPhone 15 Pro. Leaked benchmark results for the A17 Bionic have shown how it performed better than the A16 Bionic and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy.

We assume that Apple would likely introduce its subsequent silicon, the A18 Bionic chipset, with the iPhone 16 Pro. So far, there have been no rumors about this chip, but we’d imagine it’d be made with the same 3nm process as the A17 Bionic. One thing we’ve been hearing though, is that we could potentially see an Apple-built modem, which would replace the Qualcomm 5G modem that’s been in use since the iPhone 12.

Regardless of what comes to fruition, chances are that the iPhone 16 Pro would yield the better performance over the iPhone 15 Pro.

iPhone 15 Pro vs iPhone 16 Pro: Battery life and charging

Due to the expected power efficiency of the A17 Bionic chip, the iPhone 15 Pro should inherently gain longer battery life than its predecessor. It would also be a boost if rumors about it getting a larger battery turn out true. Specifically, a report released in July alludes that the iPhone 14 Pro will be getting a 3,650 mAh battery — versus the iPhone 14 Pro’s current 3,200 mAh cell. This pairing could potentially land the iPhone 15 Pro in our best phone battery life list.

We’ve seen how Twitter leakers have hinted to the possibility of stacked batteries in all iPhone 15 models, which would mean more active material in the battery to achieve better longevity. However, it’s unknown whether or not this new battery tech has been perfected enough to warrant being used by the upcoming iPhone 15 Pro. If not, then you can surely bet it’s one of the new upgrades in store for the iPhone 16 Pro.

iPhone 15 Pro vs iPhone 16 Pro: Outlook

Apple iPhone 14 Pro vs Apple iPhone 12 Pro side-by-side comparison.

(Image credit: Future)

Depending on what transpires at Apple’s anticipated iPhone 15 event in September, it might be worthwhile to upgrade to the iPhone 15 Pro — more so if you’re holding onto something that’s a few years old at this point. All of the iPhone 15 Pro design changes signal a bigger departure from what we’ve seen previously in the series, with the iPhone 16 Pro sharing more or less of the same looks.

If we’re to look at all the previous iPhone releases, the current iPhone 14 Pro line would technically fall in the “S” category of iPhones we saw in the past, which have traditionally been iterative updates. Therefore, the iPhone 15 Pro’s believed to be a substantial upgrade that’s worth getting despite the possibility of a higher price.

Meanwhile, it’s tough to say if you should wait instead for the iPhone 16 Pro — mainly because we have far fewer rumors and leaks. If you’re holding onto a relatively new phone, say like something in the last couple of years, then it might be more appropriate to wait longer for the iPhone 16 Pro. By then, the gap should widen to the point where the upgrade would be meaningful.

This is what would ultimately be the deciding factor in this iPhone 15 Pro vs. iPhone 16 Pro face-off. That’s assuming that the price of both iPhones are the same.

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John Velasco
Senior Channel Editor for Phones

John’s a senior editor covering phones for Tom’s Guide. He’s no stranger in this area having covered mobile phones and gadgets since 2008 when he started his career. On top of his editor duties, he’s a seasoned videographer being in front and behind the camera producing YouTube videos. Previously, he held editor roles with PhoneArena, Android Authority, Digital Trends, and SPY. Outside of tech, he enjoys producing mini documentaries and fun social clips for small businesses, enjoying the beach life at the Jersey Shore, and recently becoming a first time homeowner.