iPhone 15 has a hidden video upgrade — and it's all thanks to the USB-C port

Apple iPhone 15 held in the hand.
(Image credit: Future)

A hidden iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro upgrade has been found hiding in their specs pages: you can now play 4K video from the new USB-C ports with just a single cable (via Macrumors).

With previous iPhones, a Lightning-to-HDMI connection was possible, but you needed specific dongles to manage it, and you only had access to a maximum 1080p resolution. Plus there was Apple's AirPlay wireless connection anyway which is often just as simple to use as a cable. But for users who only want the security of a wired connection, Apple's change to USB-C ports on its new iPhones is another piece of good news.

The spec sheets explain that you can now play content or mirror your iPhone's screen at up to 4K HDR at 60Hz, assuming you have a cable capable of transferring data at that speed and a display with a DisplayPort connector. Alternatively, you could use the Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter, which uses an HDMI connection. This still gets you up to a 4K resolution at 60Hz, but no HDR.

Possibilities unlocked

The iPhone 15 series already introduced us to a lot of upgrades, such as the USB-C port and upgraded cameras, or the Action button and titanium frame exclusive to the Pro models. But improving the iPhone's wired connectivity could herald exciting developments down the line beyond watching your saved videos in 4K.

For one, Apple's talked up the gaming potential of the A17 Pro-powered iPhone 15 Pro, showing AAA titles like Resident Evil 4 Remake or Assassin's Creed Mirage running on the device. Having these games on a pocket-sized device is an enticing idea, but being able to run those games from the iPhone on a larger display when available sounds even better.

On the productivity side, Apple now in theory has what it needs to add Stage Manager from its iPads and Macs to the iPhone 15. Even the largest iPhone 15 Pro Max is still a little small to try and use a computer desktop-style interface, but with a speedy USB-C connection to a proper-sized screen, it could offer a convenient way to do some low-intensity work tasks when away from your main work devices. Maybe we'll have to wait for an iOS 17 update, or even iOS 18, first though.

iPhone 15 pre-orders open later today (September 15), with the full retail launch coming next week on September 22. Whether you're considering putting in an order immediately, or want to wait it out to see if these new devices are right for you, you should check out our iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max hands-on reviews to learn more about the new iPhone generation.

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Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.