Last week, Apple announced its latest “new” iPhone–if by “new”, of course, one means “yellow.” But that’s not uncommon for the company, which has taken to adding a new shade to its phones about halfway through the model year.
Still, if you’re waiting for a truly new iPhone to hit the market, you’ve got another six months to go. This means, naturally, that the rumors for the upcoming iPhone–the new new iPhone, if you will–are starting to pick up. But is this year’s update likely to be a major change from its predecessor? Or is this just going to be on par with a yellow iPhone 14? Let’s take a run through what will likely be some of the more significant changes.
Do me a solid
The latest rumor circulating about this year’s iPhone models is the replacement of the sleep/wake and volume buttons, as well as the ring/silent switch, with solid-state alternatives.
Solid-state buttons are kind of the middle ground between traditional physical controls and touch controls. While they respond to touch, they also provide haptic feedback, tricking you into thinking you’ve pressed a button.
While that certainly makes sense from the perspective of the sleep/wake and volume buttons, the ring/silent switch is a little iffier to me. Reports suggest it will be replaced with a button, but it’s unclear how it will provide different tactile feedback to indicate the state. One thing I do wonder: is this a change Apple is even likely to spend a lot of time advertising? I’m not sure that it will get a significant mention in the keynote, which makes sense given that most users probably won’t notice the difference.
One of the challenges with putting a long focal length telephoto lens in smartphones is simply that of available space. So instead, the periscope design uses mirrors–like a periscope–to allow those lenses to run lengthwise along the phone, rather than being limited to its depth.
But this may not be an across-the-board improvement. Some rumors have the periscope lens limited to the larger iPhone 15 Pro Max, for example, given the available amount of space in the device.
Another lingering question about the iPhone 15 line-up is how Apple will differentiate its Pro and non-Pro models. This past year, for the first time, the company only put its newest chip—the A16—in the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, choosing to leave the standard iPhone 14 and 14 Plus on 2021’s A15 Bionic. Presumably, the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus will get the A16 this fall, while the 15 Pro and Pro Max move up to the new A17.
But between this and the possibility of some features, like the periscope lens, only coming to the Pro Max/Ultra model, Apple is definitely making its line-up more complex. Colors, processors, case materials, and even software features are now all ways that Apple has chosen to separate the Pro phones from their non-Pro counterparts.
Is this iPhone 15 poised to be a significant update over this year’s models? The smartphone has definitely matured as a product, with year-over-year changes feeling more evolutionary than revolutionary these days, but most people don’t replace their phone every year, so for those trading in a device that’s a couple of years old, the iPhone 15 line may very well feel like a big step up.
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