iPhone 15 vs. iPhone 15 Pro: What we know so far

iPhone 14 Plus vs iPhone 14 Pro Max
(Image credit: Future)

"iPhone 15 or iPhone 15 Pro?" is the question many phone buyers will likely end up asking later this year. Fortunately, since the rumor mill is already producing snippets of information about Apple's 2023 flagship phones, we can try to figure out the answer early.

The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro are still pretty new, but many are already looking ahead to the iPhone 15 series. Although we don't have a whole to go on yet, the word is that the divide between regular and Pro models will continue to widen in 2023.

The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max stepped away significantly from the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus. With a new design thanks to the Dynamic Island, a new A16 Bionic chip versus a recycled version of last year's A15, and a larger 48MP camera, Apple really focused on encouraging people to go Pro.

That probably won't change next year. So what do we know about the difference between the iPhone 15 vs. iPhone 15 Pro? And what about the rumored iPhone 15 Ultra? Here's what we've heard.

iPhone 15 vs. iPhone 15 Pro: Displays

iPhone 14 Pro Plus vs iPhone 14 Pro Max

(Image credit: Future)

We fully expect display differences to continue between the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro. Like with the iPhone 14 Pro, Apple is likely to keep the 120Hz ProMotion technology a Pro exclusive, even though we'd love to see at least a 90Hz display on the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus. 

Since we think Apple will keep the four models the same, expect two 6.1-inch and two 6.7-inch versions. It's likely that the iPhone 15 Pro's screen will be brighter than the iPhone 15's. 

As for the notch versus Dynamic Island, a recent rumor says that Apple might add the latter to the non-Pro models next year. That would certainly make the iPhone 15 more exciting instead of looking the same as the iPhone 13 and iPhone 14. 

iPhone 15 vs. iPhone 15 Pro: Design

iPhone 14 Plus vs iPhone 14 Pro Max

(Image credit: Future)

One rumor suggests that Apple will finally pull the trigger on a titanium body for the iPhone 15 Pro (or possibly the iPhone 15 Ultra), something that many believed would appear on the iPhone 14 Pro. This would up the durability on the Pro. It's likely that the iPhone 15 would stay with aluminum.

Many expect Apple to switch from Lightning ports to USB-C on the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro. Finally. So both the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro could end up matching Android phones with one universal connector. However, there could be a difference in port speeds under the hood, which we'll address in a moment.

Of course, the iPhone 15 Pro could realize the long-standing rumors that Apple will go with a port-less iPhone. That would certainly be a bold move. Yet another thought is that Apple will do away with physical buttons on the iPhone 15 Pro, opting for solid state buttons with extra haptic feedback from multiple Taptic Engines instead. This change could be a shock to some.

iPhone 15 vs. iPhone 15 Pro: Chip and performance

iPhone 14 Pro Max

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Apple took a different path this year with the iPhone 14. Normally, the regular and Pro models share a chipset, though the latter often get a slight boost to make them more "pro." But for 2022, Apple left the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus on the A15 Bionic, saving the A16 Bionic for the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. You can see the difference in the iPhone 14 Pro benchmarks we ran.

Obviously, we can't count on the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro having different chipsets, but now that Apple has done it once, we should be ready for it to happen again. That means that the iPhone 15 might get this year's A16 Bionic while the iPhone 15 Pro could use a new A17 Bionic chip, a 3nm chipset that should offer far superior performance, as well as greater power efficiency.

Multiple reports about the next iPhone's RAM says that the iPhone 15 Pro series will feature an upgrade to 8GB RAM. The currently iPhone 14 Pro models feature 6GB of RAM. Presumably, the regular iPhone 15 would have a max of 6GB of RAM as well.

iPhone 15 vs. iPhone 15 Pro: Cameras

iPhone 14 Plus vs iPhone 14 Pro Max

(Image credit: Future)

The iPhone Pro models usually distinguish themselves with their cameras, and that has never been more true than with the iPhone 14 Pro. Not only does it get the 3x telephoto lens — which the iPhone 14 lacks outright — but it gets a new 48MP main camera. it's incredibly impressive, especially since it can shoot 48MP ProRAW photos in that full resolution.

We anticipate that the iPhone 15 Pro will continue to use the same 48MP sensor. As for the iPhone 15, it's possible that it'll stick with the 12MP camera that iPhones have used for years now, but some reports say we'll get 48MP main sensors on the regular models too. Other rumors say that the iPhone 15 Pro will get a periscope zoom, meaning it could reach zoom levels of 5x or 6x with a hybrid plastic/glass lens stack. There's also a vague rumor that the iPhone 15 Pro will have two front cameras, but we're skeptical of that one.

We think that both phones will share any software advancements, like Photonic Engine and Action mode on the entire iPhone 14 series. 

iPhone 15 vs. iPhone 15 Pro: USB-C speeds

iphone 13 pro charging port and bottom speaker

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Yet another rumor, this one from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, says that Apple will further distinguish the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro models with USB-C transfer speeds. The iPhone 15 Pro is expected to use USB 3.2 or Thunderbolt 3 transfer rates, while Kuo says the iPhone 15 will stay on the USB 2.0 standard that's afflicted iPhones for years now.

What about the iPhone 15 Ultra

There's been multiple reports and rumors saying that Apple could be working on a new iPhone 15 Ultra model, just as the company has down with wearables with the Apple Watch Ultra.

So how would the iPhone 15 Ultra stand out? It would likely feature a 6.7-inch display similar to the iPhone 14 Pro Max but offer a number of upgrades over the regular iPhone 15 Pro. This could include a stronger titanium design and a periscope-style telephoto zoom lens — if Apple decided to keep this feature for the Ultra and let the regular Pro stick with a 3x optical zoom. 

It's also rumored that the iPhone 15 Ultra (if there is one) could feature dual front cameras. We haven't heard about storage, but starting at 256GB would be wise. 

iPhone 15 vs. iPhone 15 Pro: Outlook

Expect a host of differences between the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro, just like with the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro. Whether it's the high refresh rate display, chipset, or even the USB-C transfer speeds, it appears so far that Apple really wants to separate the Pro models from the pack.

Of course, it's still too early to make any kind of conclusion like that just yet, but it would make sense given what we saw with this year's Pros. We will update this preview as more leaks and rumors pour in for the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro/Ultra. 

Jordan Palmer
Phones Editor

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over six years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.