iPhone 16 vs iPhone 15: Biggest rumored upgrades

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

If you’ve resisted the temptation to upgrade to the iPhone 15, and are instead holding off for 2024’s iPhone 16, you may be wondering if your patience will be rewarded.

While it stands to reason that every year’s iPhone is an improvement on the last, the changes have sometimes been quite incremental from one generation to the next. Is this one of those years? The rumors say not, and it sounds like there are a bunch of key upgrades on the way — including the action button, on-device AI and some slight changes to the design.

Here are the biggest rumored upgrades for the iPhone 16.

iPhone 16 vs iPhone 15: Price and availability

The standard iPhone’s price has remained static at $799 since 2020’s iPhone 12 (albeit with the cheaper $699 5.4-inch iPhone mini being phased out in favor of the $899 6.7-inch Plus). We could be due a price increase, therefore, but Apple may decide to keep pricing competitive and reserve any bumps to the Pro models. It’s too early to tell.

Availability is far easier to predict. Both the iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Plus will almost certainly launch in September, as every non-SE iPhone has for over a decade (barring the Coronavirus-era iPhone 12, which launched a month later due to supply chain difficulties).

iPhone 16 vs iPhone 15: Design and display

We’re not expecting “significant design changes” for the iPhone 16, according to the analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. While the Pro models may be a little bigger this year, the regular models will reportedly retain the same 6.1-inch/6.7-inch screen, with the same 60Hz refresh rate

But there are a couple of changes to be excited about. Just as the iPhone 15 inherited Dynamic Island from the previous year’s Pro models, we’re expecting the Action Button to replace the long-serving mute switch in 2024

Additionally, all the phones are reportedly getting a dedicated Capture button for quick access to the cameras — with dummy units suggesting it'll be on the bottom right side of the phone. That's where the SIM card try is on iPhones sold outside the U.S. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman claims this is predominantly for shooting video but it may also be usable for shooting photos and focusing the camera lens.

It's also speculated that Apple may swap out the traditional mechanical power and volume buttons in favor of solid-state alternatives — enhanced with feedback from Apple's Taptic Engine.

iPhone 16 vs iPhone 15: Specs and cameras

Since the iPhone 14, Apple has given the Pro models a faster processor, with the entry-level iPhones sporting year-old chips. They’re still some of the fastest phones around, just not as fast as the Pro models.

But an early rumor suggests that Apple may be abandoning this division for the iPhone 16, with both handsets getting the A18 chipset. There still could be a divide, with the Pro models getting a more powerful version of course, but it’s intriguing all the same.

The good news continues elsewhere, with the analyst Jeff Pu claiming that 2024 will see the iPhone 16 getting an extra 2GB RAM, taking it to 8GB. On top of this, there’s also talk of support for the faster Wi-Fi 6E standard, should you have a compatible router. iPhone 16 Pro owners are rumored to be getting the Wi-Fi 7, which is even faster.

After the introduction of the 48MP sensor to the iPhone 15, we’re not expecting any big changes to the camera array, however — unless you consider a possible change of layout to be a big deal. 

iPhone 16 vs iPhone 15: Software

It’s no secret that the iPhone 16 will arrive with iOS 18. The contents of the operating system update aren’t currently known, though there’s an assumption that Apple will go big on artificial intelligence with a substantial upgrade to Siri that’s reportedly being tested as we speak

Of course, iOS 18 will also be available to older iPhones, but the AI features may be exclusive to the iPhone 16 if they require a hardware bump to function. We won't know more about this until WWDC 2024, when Apple reveals the kind of AI it's been working on. We'll presumably hear more about how much of the processing will be split between on-device hardware and cloud servers too.

Additionally, the analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reckons the iPhone 16 will have an improved microphone to help with Siri requests.

iPhone 16 vs iPhone 15: Outlook

While the changes outlined above largely aren’t going to be revolutionary (with the possible exception of AI integration in iOS 18), it looks like a solid set of upgrades for the iPhone 16. 

If Apple can keep the price static for the fourth year in a row, there’s no reason to think this will end the company’s run of excellent smartphones.

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.