iPhone 15 — everything we know so far

iPhone 14 Pro Max
(Image credit: Future)

The iPhone 15 isn't expected to debut for another nine months at the earliest, but there's already been a fair number of rumors and leaks for the next batch of iPhones.

For example, it looks as though Apple will finally embrace USB-C charging and ditch the Lightning port. And we may see an entirely new model dubbed the iPhone 15 Ultra, which could take the iPhone Pro series to the next level with a super durable titanium design. Of course, we shouldn't forget about the iPhone 15 Pro, either.

It also looks as though Apple will keep a very large divide between the regular and Pro models, as only the iPhone 15 Pro series is tipped to get a new periscope zoom lens. 

Here’s a deep dive into everything we know about the iPhone 15 so far. For a summary, see our roundup of the 5 big iPhone 15 upgrades (opens in new tab) Apple needs to make. 

iPhone 15 news (Updated January 27)

iPhone 15 possible release date

Of all the early iPhone 15 rumors, this is the most set in stone. In the last decade, Apple has only announced its new flagship smartphones outside of September once: October 2020, amid a once-in-a-generation pandemic that necessitated stay-at-home orders and disrupted tech supply chains.

As such, it is highly likely that the iPhone 15 will arrive in September 2023. Typically Apple announces its phones about ten days before they’re released, with pre-orders opening a week ahead of go-time. One source claims it could be September 22/23 specifically we see the iPhone 15 go on sale.

There is a slight wrinkle now, however. Trial production has reportedly begun for the iPhone 15 lineup and it's starting a month earlier than usual this year. This seems to be due to Apple's mass-production plans in India and China rather than an indication that we will see an iPhone earlier than usual, but we cannot rule it out for sure. Still, we expect a September unveiling for the iPhone 15.

Read more on iPhone 15 release date rumors.

iPhone 15 price speculation

With the iPhone 14, there was strong speculation that we would see a 15% price increase, but this turned out to be incorrect — if you live in the United States. Other regions saw a substantial increase, but in the US the only change in pricing was the elimination of the cheapest ‘mini’ model.

That means that prices currently go from $799 / £849 / AU$1,399 for the 128GB entry-level iPhone 14 all the way up to $$1,599 / £1,749 / AU$2,769 for the 1TB iPhone 14 Pro Max. We would expect something similar this time around, but it’s entirely possible that the iPhone 15 will see the price rise that the U.S. missed out on in 2022. 

As it happens, a $100 price hike has been tipped for the iPhone 15 Pro. This could be down to more advanced features coming to the next-gen iPhone. But it wold mean a base iPhone 15 Pro would top the $1,000 mark, which could sting consumers, especially when the cost of living is high. It's not clear if this price hike will apply to the U.K., Australia or other regions. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Korean blog Naver raises the possibility that Apple could lower costs for the iPhone 15 in response to soft iPhone 14 Plus sales. The idea is that Apple might adjust pricing to make its lower-cost iPhones more attractive to shoppers looking for value.

iPhone 15 possible models

iPhone 14 Plus

(Image credit: Future)

For its 2022 releases, Apple killed the iPhone mini, and introduced the iPhone 14 Plus instead. That simplified the choice: whether you wanted to go Pro or not, you could get either a 6.1- or 6.7-inch screen.

It’s extremely likely that this will continue into 2023. It was obvious within months that the iPhone 12 mini was not selling well, but Apple had to persist with the iPhone 13 mini because plans were fixed and couldn’t be changed. 

That means that in the event that the iPhone 14 Plus bombs, we will probably still see next year’s lineup mimicking this year’s: the iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. A recent TrendForce report used these names to highlight expected iPhone 15 features, so keeping the same naming conventions seems like a real possibility.

But there could be one addition to this list — an iPhone 15 Ultra. Reliable tipster, Mark Gurman recently tweeted (opens in new tab) that after the Apple Watch Ultra that was launched this year, we could "expect" the variant for iPhones in the future — something he later reiterated in his newsletter. Could this mean a completely new iPhone 15 Ultra? Or will the Pro Max simply get rebranded as the Ultra? We will have to see.

iPhone 15 design rumors

One design leak for the iPhone 15 suggests that it could bring the curved design of the iPhone 11 Pro Max back. Apple has a flat-edge design on its latest iPhones, but now leaker ShrimpApplePro (opens in new tab) says that while the display will remain flat, all three devices could have curved bezels. The last iPhone to sport the curved-edge display was the iPhone 11 Pro Max.

The biggest iPhone 15 design rumor so far is that 2023 is the year when Apple finally abandons the Lightning port on its phones. This isn’t wholly surprising: not only has the company adopted the connection for its laptops and tablets, but the European Union has officially mandated that all phones will have to use USB-C by 2024

While Apple could keep the Lightning port elsewhere in the world, it would be adding complexity and expense for no real gain.

While rumors of a portless iPhone persist, the analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reckons that it’s USB-C for at least some of Apple’s handsets. If a portless one does come next year, our guess is it could be a Pro feature. Mark Gurman also reported that the iPhone 15 will have UCB-C, and that a portless model will arrive at some point — he just didn't specify when.

iPhone Lightning cable

(Image credit: Future)

This USB-C rumor for the iPhone 15 was given more backing by somewhat reliable tipster LeaksApplePro, who claimed that USB-C ports and the Dynamic Island could be seen on every iPhone 15 model. (The leaker has once again corroborated this after obtaining some iOS 17 tidbits, though they claim only the Pro models will have USB 3.2 speeds.) The latter is a positive tip, as we'd be a little put out if Apple were to only give iPhone 15 Pro models a USB-C connection. And now that the EU has said all phones need to be USB-C by 2024, we're pretty sure the iPhone 15 will be USB-C.

The type of USB-C used could differ between Pro and non-Pro models though, says Ming-Chi Kuo. He says that the regular iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus could still have the same data transfer speeds as current Lightning iPhones, while only the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max would get faster speeds as a result of their USB-C ports. Regardless of what happens with individual models, the iPhone 15's embrace of USB-C is a big deal for iPhone users. Although, traveling with a USB-C phone recently, one of our editors feels that the world may not be ready for USB-C, even though the iPhone 15 might shift to it this year.

In another report, Gurman claims all iPhone 15 models will get the Dynamic Island. This could see more developers get spurred on to making apps that adapt to the morphing camera cutout/display feature, further adding to its capabilities. 

iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max/iPhone 15 Ultra renders from 4RMD

(Image credit: 4RMD)

Despite rumours that Touch ID will make a return, Gurman claims Apple has no plans to bring fingerprint scanning back to flagship iPhones for the foreseeable future. Apparently the company has been testing in-display Touch ID, and even discussed adding it to the power button, but instead it looks like Face ID will be the only option in 2023 and beyond.

It's a shame really, since this feature has been MIA on top-end Apple handsets since the iPhone 8. A little bit of choice goes a long way, and Touch ID certainly would have been handy during the pandemic months when everyone was wearing a mask and Face ID struggled to cope.

A new rumor from Ming-Chi Kuo claims that "two high-end iPhone 15s" will feature solid-state buttons, similar to the home button found in the likes of the iPhone SE. This was lent more weight by another claim by Barclays analysts, who have the iPhone 15 Pro tipped to get solid-state buttons, and analyst Jeff Pu, who adds that Apple will use extra Taptic Engine vibration motors to give feedback for these buttons.

The benefit here would be fewer moving parts exposed external elements, potentially making for a more durable iPhone, while still delivering a tactile button feel via haptics. This has been used to great effect with the Force Touch trackpad on the MacBook range. So Apple could ape that with the next iPhone, if such rumors prove to be legitimate. 

Elsewhere, ShrimpApplePro thinks that Apple could be changing up the look of the iPhone 15's back panel. They claim it'll be getting curved edges like the old iPhone 5C, which could make for a more comfortable iPhone to hold than the current models. However, the latest rumors from LeaksApplePro suggest that the iPhone 15 lineup may not get a rounded design after all. Supply chain issues and design constraints related to wireless charging may have Apple sticking with its current flat-back design.

iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max/iPhone 15 Ultra renders from 4RMD

(Image credit: 4RMD)

An iPhone 15 Pro render from 4RMD has taken these potential design changes and spun them into a concept that looks great — even though it's just based on rumors. It shows off the haptic power and volume buttons, a smaller Ceramic Shield back panel to allow for a curved-edge design and a titanium body all make their way into this latest render. While ultimately the real iPhone 15 Pro will probably look a bit different, the concept definitely has us excited for what could be coming.

iPhone 15 camera

One of the earliest rumors of the iPhone 15 includes a likely upgrade to a new camera. After raising the megapixels bar to 48MP on the iPhone 14 Pro models, word is that the iPhone 15 could finally get a periscope camera for better long-range photography and zoom capabilities, supposedly along with improved lenses for better quality photos. This is something that Android handsets in our best camera phones list have done for some time, and it would be great to see Apple finally offering this. Though, as ever, we’d be very surprised if this wasn’t initially Pro only — if it arrives in 2023 at all. 

Analysts at Nomura believe that the basic iPhone 15 will get a Pro-like camera this time. In a note, they mention, “They will have main cameras (wide) upgraded to 48MP with image sensor size at 1/1.5” (slightly smaller than the i14 Pro’s 48MP sensor size, but much better than i14’s 12MP one)".

Speaking of ‘Pro’ differentiation, the analyst Ming-Chi Kuo thinks that Apple will give its Pro models some unique features and could be looking to upsell its larger 6.7-inch handsets with exclusive features over the smaller models. What these could be was left open to speculation at this point, but it’s possible that a periscoping camera could be an iPhone 15 Pro Max-only feature in an effort to upsell. 

However, Kuo has said not to expect a new 8P, or eight element lens, for the iPhone 15 Pro's main camera (opens in new tab), which was previously rumored. Instead, the iPhone 15 Pro will allegedly stick with a 7P lens. More elements in a lens would result in more light being absorbed into the lens and less distortion in images, which could be essential for wide-angle lenses.

A report from Nikkei claims that Apple will work with Sony on the iPhone 15's main camera, with the Cupertino phone maker allegedly opting for Sony's new "state-of-the-art" sensor. This new part can supposedly double the pixel saturation, which means that the iPhone 15 might have much better exposure controls. This has been a relative weakness of the iPhones thus far, so it would be good to see Apple tackle it. The report did not say if this will be a Pro/Ultra exclusive or not.

iPhone 15 expected specs

It’s early days, but two rumors have emerged. One feels extremely likely, while the other could yet be wishful thinking.

Starting with the "likely," adoption of the A17 chipset would once have felt like a certainty, but only the iPhone 14 Pro models benefited from an all-new chipset, while the regular iPhone used a slightly souped-up version of the A15. We would assume this is the new normal, so the iPhone 15 Pro handsets could get the A17, while the regular iPhone 15 might get an enhanced version of the A16. 

The latest report from TrendForce also suggests that the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus will keep the A16 Bionic CPU and only the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max (or Ultra) will get upgraded to the rumored A17 chipset.

An A16 Bionic SoC Diagram on a black background

(Image credit: Apple)

Obviously, that doesn’t tell us much about performance, but the A17 is expected to be the first chip to be made with the 3nm manufacturing process which could mean big things for both speed and efficiency. Specifically, chip manufacturer TSMC predicts a 35% improvement in power efficiency, which bodes well for iPhone 15 Pro battery life.

A Digitimes report (opens in new tab) suggests other chipmakers are undecided about making 3nm chips of their own this year. If that's true, it could mean a big advantage for devices like the iPhone 15 Pro in terms of performance and power efficiency.

An early iPhone rumor that suggested Apple might be ready to start building its own modems, starting with its 2023 phones. Indeed, signs suggest that Apple is ramping up to eventually build its own modems. But current supplier Qualcomm says it expects to supply the "vast majority" of modems for the 2023 iPhones, and Apple's apparently just put in a big 5G modem order with Qualcomm too, says one source. That means the iPhone 15 is likely to feature Qualcomm's Snapdragon X70 modem.

There's also a rumor based on a Barclay analysis that says that Wi-Fi 6E could come to the iPhone 15, though it may be a Pro exclusive. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has further corroborated this rumor.

iPhone 15 Ultra

There has been some speculation that Apple may release an iPhone 15 Ultra, instead of the usual Pro Max model. There had been rumors of an iPhone 15 Ultra before, but it was speculated that this would be a fifth iPhone. Now it seems this may not be the case.

We've also heard some suggestions that Apple wants to better differentiate the iPhone 15 Ultra from the iPhone 15 Pro — rather than the screen size being the main point of difference. But so far we haven't had any word on what those changes might actually be.

Originally it was suggested that Apple would reserve USB-C connectivity for the most expensive iPhone 15 model. However more recent rumors suggest that this change will come to all iPhone 15s, ahead of EU legislation that would mandate USB-C charging on electronics by December of 2024. So even if only one or none of the iPhone 15 range gets USB-C, future iPhones will have no choice.

Of course there are long-standing rumors that a portless iPhone is in the works. It could be that the iPhone 15 Ultra skips over USB-C entirely, going straight for a port-free design that doesn't need a physical connector. This could also improve durability, especially if Apple includes the titanium alloy design that debuted on the new Apple Watch Ultra.

Other potential upgrades could include the long-rumored periscope camera. While a staple features on other flagships, Apple could benefit greatly from optical zoom capabilities greater than the current 3x limit.

iPhone 15 software

You'd expect the iPhone 15 to ship at the same time iOS 17 comes out. If Apple follows its well-established pattern of software updates, we'll get a preview at June's Worldwide Developer Conference that shows off what's new in iOS 17. A public beta will take place during the summer, leading up to a full release in the fall.

Details about iOS 17 changes are sparse at the moment. The biggest rumors suggest an overhaul to IMessage (opens in new tab) as Apple also opens up the IPhone to third-party app stores. One report claims iOS 17 may look more scaled-back than recent iOS updates, as Apple puts resources into its efforts to release a VR/AR headset this year.

iPhone 15 outlook

It’s still early days for iPhone 15 rumors, but nobody ever went broke by betting on Apple. The expected introduction of USB-C could tempt those yet to fall for the charms of iOS, while the anticipated gains of the 3nm A17 chip could cement the already commanding lead Apple has over the best Android phones in terms of raw speed. 

A possible increase in price is a big worry, and we would like to hear more firm rumors about improvements to the cameras, but considering we’re several months away from the iPhone 15’s release date at this point, there’s plenty of time for more exciting speculation to emerge.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.

With contributions from
  • Whoopie
    I read your article saying Apple should abandon Plus size Phones. I am certain you are younger than I am. People my age choose the Plus so we can read the words displayed on the phone! I don't need the features the Pro offers but I need the biggest screen I can get to read a line of text on a phone. Yes, I am a grandmother. I am astonished that many young people will read articles on their phones when there is a computer in the room. I use the phone when I am away from my computer. If my iPad is with me I will use in preference to the phone for many things because it is easier to see a larger screen.
    Reply