Forget iPhone 16 Pro — why the iPhone 16 will be the one to get this year

iPhone 16 prototypes
(Image credit: MacRumors)

I admit I'm a bit of an iPhone snob. If I'm going to carry around a new iPhone, it has to be the biggest and best available. That's why I tend to gravitate towards the Pro Max models year after year. But this year the new iPhone 16 might not feel like an also-ran versus the iPhone 16 Pro series. 

Yes, the iPhone 16 Pro models are rumored to once again get some exclusive upgrades, including bigger displays than their non-Pro counterparts and a new 48MP ultrawide camera. But those looking to save money have plenty to be excited about with the regular iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Plus. Here's why. 

A18 chip for all four new iPhones 

A render of the Apple A18 Pro chip

(Image credit: Wccftech)

While there was a Apple silicon split when it came to the iPhone 15 (A16 Bionic) and iPhone 15 Pro (A17 Pro) last year, it looks like all four new iPhone 16 models will be powered by Apple's new A18 chip. It's possible Apple could reserve an A18 Pro variant for the iPhone 16 Pro series, but right now the processors look to be identical across the board.

The latest confirmation comes from MacRumors, which reports that code discovered in Apple's backend shows that "the devices will all have the same A-series chip." In other words, the iPhone 16 won't get a hand-me-down chip like the iPhone 15; it should have the latest and greatest Apple silicon. And the leaked iPhone 16 benchmarks look very promising. 

Apple Intelligence on board

Apple Intelligence iOS 18

(Image credit: Apple)

You won't need a Pro iPhone to experience Apple Intelligence, which is Apple's name for its AI push. That means the regular iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Plus should be able to tap into the new and improved Siri, which is designed to be more conversational and help accomplish tasks across apps on your behalf. 

In addition, the iPhone 16 should be able to tap into Genmoji for creating your own emojis on the fly, as well as Image Playground for AI-generated images you can share. Other Apple Intelligence perks include a Clean Up tool from removing unwanted stuff from your photos, automatic transcriptions in voice notes and AI Rewriting tools. 

To be clear, the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max will get Apple Intelligence, too, but not the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus. 

Action and capture buttons

Alleged case molds of the iPhone 16

(Image credit: ShopSystem)

The iPhone 16 design should have some pretty noticeable differences versus the iPhone 15, starting with borrowing the Action button from the iPhone 15 Pro series. This will allow you perform various shortcuts with the touch of a button, from launching your favorite app and setting timers to translating between languages. 

The iPhone 16 will reportedly get a new Capture button as well, which should make it easier to launch straight into the camera for shooting photos and recording videos. The Pro models should get this feature, too. 

Speedier Wi-Fi 7

A smartphone showing the logo for Wi-Fi 7

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

All four new iPhones are tipped to feature new Wi-Fi 7 connectivity, which promises speeds up to four times faster than Wi-Fi 6 along with less latency. Even better, the best Wi-Fi 7 routers have more capacity for multiple devices at the same time, so you shouldn't experience nearly as much congestion on your home network when there's multiple Wi-Fi 7 gadgets connected. 

Spatial-video ready

Apple Vision Pro on table

(Image credit: Future)

The iPhone 16 is tipped to sport a vertical camera orientation, which will enable the regular iPhone to capture 3D spatial video. You can then view this footage on compatible headsets like the Apple Vision Pro and cheaper Meta Quest 3

If you haven't seen spatial video before, it makes you feel like you were there when the moment was happening. I just hope that Apple makes it possible to capture spatial photos as well. Right now you need to the Vision Pro headset to snap those. 

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Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.