iPhone 15’s USB-C specs open up new possibilities for Apple diehards

iPhone 14 Pro on left and USB-C and Lightning cables on the right
(Image credit: Future and Shutterstock)

During the iPhone 15 launch event, Apple revealed the handset’s new USB-C port would have a neat party trick: You can use it to charge accessories like your AirPods or Apple Watch.

The specifications of the connection weren’t revealed at the time, but Apple has now put up a support page covering charging speeds and a few other interesting details. The long and short of it is that iPhone users are about to enjoy a lot more flexibility.

First up, that charging speed. The new port supports USB Power Delivery at up to 4.5 watts, and Apple says this is “to charge your AirPods, Apple Watch, or another small device.” 

But given the old Lightning port only put out about 0.3 watts, this could be a big deal for accessory makers. 9to5Mac suggests this could open the door to Bus-powered USB-C hard drives being directly connectable, for example, and Apple does specifically mention the ability to record ProRes video directly to external storage on the Pro models. 

Support for large external storage could be especially handy with the improved data transfer rates that the iPhone 15 Pro offers. The same support document states that their ports are USB 3.2 Gen 2, offering speeds of up to 10Gbits per second with a USB 3.1 cable (this sadly doesn't include the one in the box, which is USB 2). 

Finally, but perhaps most intriguingly, Apple says the iPhone 15 uses the DisplayPort protocol for output to bigger screens, offering up to 4K resolution with HDR at 60fps. 

While this will sound like old news to Android users, it’s a big deal for iPhone, as the previous solution required a $49 Lightning adapter, and even then you were limited to 1080p video output. This will again need a USB 3.1 cable, though Apple suggests you use “the cable included with the display” if you don’t fancy paying for another one. 

If you prefer to output to a TV, rather than a monitor, then Apple recommends its $69 USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter, which offers the same 4K resolution and 60Hz refresh rate and includes support for HDR10 and Dolby Vision content.

With the iPhone’s compatibility with Bluetooth controllers and the A17 Pro chipset apparently offering a big leap forward for mobile games, the potential for gamers could be sizeable. 

We’re just under a week away from the iPhone 15 reaching early adopters’ hands, with the handsets releasing on Friday, September 22. Look out for our reviews of all four models very soon.

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.