iPhone 15 Pro has 5 big design upgrades that make iPhone 15 look boring

iPhone 15 Pro render showing cameras and display
(Image credit: Technizo)

With less than a week to go until Apple’s September event, it won't be long before we get our first look at the iPhone 15 series. A steady stream of rumors suggests this generation will see yet another incremental update to most models, which is bad news for those thinking of trading in their iPhone 14 or older phones. 

But the high-end option this time around, the iPhone 15 Pro, outshines the standard iPhone 15 with several design tweaks that could be enough to convince hesitant users to upgrade. That's based on what leaks we've seen so far as well as a report this week from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman detailing Apple's plans. 

Apple's “Wonderlust” showcase kicks off on September 12 at 10 a.m. PT. Check out our guide on how to watch the event, including where you can find a live stream and what to expect. There we expect the iPhone maker to show off its most highly anticipated new products, including its next-gen smartphone line, the Apple Watch Series 9, the Apple Watch Ultra 2, changes coming with iOS 17, and the latest AirPods. 

Titanium body

One of the biggest design changes separating the standard iPhone 15 and 15 Plus from the Pro models is the chassis material. The 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max are set to switch from their traditional stainless steel to titanium frames that are more durable and lighter, while the regular iPhone 15 and 15 Plus will use aluminum chassis. 

It's a long-rumored feature for iPhones as Apple is expected to faze out stainless steel from the iPhone lineup entirely. A titanium chassis could lead to a stronger yet lighter Pro iPhone, which we think would be an excellent upgrade. Some tipsters are calculating that a titanium iPhone 15 Pro would weigh 6.74 ounces, which is just over a half-an-ounce lighter than the iPhone 14 Pro.

In this week's report, Gurman said the titanium chassis makes the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max "more durable and about 10% lighter" than their predecessors, citing unnamed sources at Apple with knowledge of the company's plans. 

Action button

Another bold change rumored for the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max is that Apple will ditch the longtime mute switch and replace it with a solid-state Action button similar to the one found in the Apple Watch Ultra

With it, you'll still be able to toggle your phone's ringer on and off, of course, just as you could with the mute switch. But you'll also be able to program the button to do a bunch of other handy functions and execute a string of commands with the help of iOS' Shortcuts app.

Some of the shortcuts Gurman's sources mentioned include silencing the phone, toggling Focus mode, opening the flashlight, launching the camera, starting a voice recording, opening Siri shortcuts, pulling up the digital magnifying glass and opening accessibility settings.

Smaller bezels

Smartphone manufacturers have been gradually shaving down bezels over the years, and Apple is no exception. With the iPhone 15 Pro, the bezels surrounding the display could get slimmed down significantly to just 1.55mm, in comparison to the 2.1mm bezels on the current iPhone 14 Pro.

To create the slimmer bezels, Apple's employed a new manufacturing process called LIPO, or low-injection pressure overmolding, Gurman reports. We first saw Apple use LIPO with the Apple Watch Series 7 to shave down its borders for a bigger display overall without increasing the size of the chassis. Rumor has it Apple plans to incorporate this tech into its iPad models down the line as well.

A17 Chip

The iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max will reportedly pack Apple's A17 Bionic chip for a massive boost in terms of performance and battery life. Meanwhile, the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus will get the slower A16 chip found in last year's iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max. 

"The higher-end phones will have a performance edge, keeping with Apple’s approach in recent years," Gurman explained. "The processor will make those models snappier, but the biggest enhancements are the battery life savings."

USB-C with faster charging than iPhone 15

Apple has confirmed that iPhones of the future will fall in line with new European Union regulations and switch from a proprietary Lightning charging port to USB-C. We expect to see the first of these with the iPhone 15 series, where all four models are tipped to feature USB-C charging ports. But the Pro models could get an additional edge.

For starters, the iPhone 15 Pro models are tipped to feature faster recharging speed with up to 35W. For comparison, the iPhone 14 Pro Max is limited to charging at 27W while the iPhone 14 is capped at 20W.  

Rumor also has it the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max will upgrade to USB 3.2, with 20GBps data transfer speeds as standard and Thunderbolt 3 connectivity. Meanwhile, the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus will be stuck at USB 2.0, which offers the same 480 Mbps data transfer speeds as Apple’s Lightning port and the entry-level iPad 10.

Thunderbolt 3 support is particularly promising, as this upgrade could enable the iPhone 15 Pro to output 4K video to an external screen. The more advanced version of the USB standard should also offer better support for external accessories, and combined they have a chance to turn the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max into serious productivity devices. 

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Alyse Stanley
News Editor

Alyse Stanley is a news editor at Tom’s Guide overseeing weekend coverage and writing about the latest in tech, gaming and entertainment. Prior to joining Tom’s Guide, Alyse worked as an editor for the Washington Post’s sunsetted video game section, Launcher. She previously led Gizmodo’s weekend news desk, where she covered breaking tech news — everything from the latest spec rumors and gadget launches to social media policy and cybersecurity threats.  She has also written game reviews and features as a freelance reporter for outlets like Polygon, Unwinnable, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. She’s a big fan of horror movies, cartoons, and miniature painting.