How the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro Compare with Apple’s iPhone 14 Lineup

How the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro Compare with Apple’s iPhone 14 Lineup
How the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro Compare with Apple’s iPhone 14 Lineup

Summary

A new USB-C charging port, titanium for the Pro and a bigger zoom for the Max

The biggest change in this year’s iPhone 15 lineup isn’t a buzzy new software feature or a major design shift. It is a charging port.

As was the case last year, this year’s iPhone lineup includes four models: the iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. Despite speculation that Apple would increase prices on the Pro models this year, it kept things steady for most iPhones. It did up the minimum storage option for the 15 Pro Max, however. And that means the “cheapest" one costs $100 more at $1,199.

For the first time, Apple has built USB-C into its iPhones instead of its proprietary Lightning connector. The company made the move to comply with European Union law—the logic of that being that it is the same port already on most other new electronics. One charger for all devices.

Appearance wise, the iPhones are more or less identical to last year’s. The Pro models feature thinner edges around the screen and titanium, instead of steel, to make them lighter. Along with the new port, Apple improved the lineup’s cameras, and the high-end Pro Max gets 5X optical zoom.

Industrial redesign

While the lower-priced iPhones are made with aluminum, the Pro models have long been made with a surgical steel, making them stronger but also heavier. This year’s Pros feature a titanium frame, which weighs less. Apple said this titanium, the same used on a recent Mars rover, is more durable. There is also a thinner bezel around the screen.

The mute switch on the top left—which has long allowed users to easily turn off the ringer—has been replaced on Pro models with a programmable key to perform various functions. Press and hold this new “action button" to silence the phone, or press to do such things as start a voice memo, launch the camera or use accessibility features.

The iPhone 15 Pro models come with four color options: black titanium, white titanium, blue titanium and natural titanium. The regular iPhone 15 comes in black, pink, yellow, blue and green.

Camera close-up

Apple always makes some improvements to the various iPhones’ array of cameras. The Pro models tend to have three cameras on the back—wide, ultrawide and telephoto—while the regular iPhones have lacked the telephoto lens.

The basic iPhone 15 gets two meaningful spec bumps: The main rear camera goes from 12 megapixels to 48 megapixels, an upgrade the Pro models got last year. And the basic iPhone 15 now has a 2X optical zoom, which should improve shots when users are far away.

For the Pro models this year, the biggest change comes to the 15 Pro Max. That phone gets a telephoto lens with 5X zoom, versus the 3X zoom on the 15 Pro. Both get improved image stabilization. The company also tweaked the other lenses to reduce lens flare and improve lowlight shots.

The iPhone 15 Pro cameras will have a feature this fall called spatial video. Those immersive 3-D videos can be viewed on Apple’s Vision Pro headset when it launches next year.

Chip bump

The new Pro models get the A17 Pro. It is built on 3-nanometer technology, which should make the devices more powerful and energy efficient. Apple also touted better graphics capabilities in the new chip.

Last year’s iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max came with Apple’s A16 Bionic chip, built on 4-nanometer process technology. That now goes to the regular iPhone 15 models.

Dynamic extras

Each phone in last year’s iPhone 14 lineup came with car-crash detection and satellite connectivity to contact emergency services when out of cellular range. The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max also got a “dynamic island" multitasking bar that replaced the longtime camera notch, and the Pro models came with always-on displays.

This year, all iPhone 15 models get the dynamic island.

For the iPhone 15 lineup, Apple expanded the emergency SOS via satellite to include roadside assistance through a partnership with AAA in the U.S. Apple says all you’ll have to do is text roadside assistance and select what help you need. The interface guides you to connect to a satellite and share the info with someone who can help you. Apple said this is covered by AAA membership. (It will be available separately for nonmembers, Apple said, but no pricing was announced during the event.)

Max-imum pricing

Many analysts expected Apple to increase prices for its Pro models this year, but the company only did it for its highest-priced variant.

The iPhone 15 starts at $799 for 128 GB of storage, while the iPhone 15 Plus begins at $899—the same as last year’s standard iPhone 14 and 14 Plus. (Those year-old models both got a $100 price drop, while Apple stopped selling the 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max directly.)

The iPhone 15 Pro retails for $999, the same starting price for Apple’s premium smartphones since 2017’s iPhone X took us into thousand-dollar territory.

If cost and hand size are no object, it is the $1,199 iPhone 15 Pro Max that might catch your eye. Its starting internal storage is 256GB; the 128GB Pro Max option is no longer available.

Preorders begin Friday, and all of the iPhone 15 models will be available Sept. 22.

The iPhone 15 lineup comes at a critical time for Apple. Worldwide smartphone shipments are expected to drop 4.7% this year to 1.15 billion units, the lowest volume in a decade, according to market tracker International Data Corp.

Apple’s iPhone volumes are expected to rise, the firm said, even though this year’s iPhone 15 lineup doesn’t have any crazy new features.

—For more WSJ Technology analysis, reviews, advice and headlines, sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Write to Shara Tibken at shara.tibken@wsj.com

How the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro Compare with Apple’s iPhone 14 Lineup
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How the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro Compare with Apple’s iPhone 14 Lineup
How the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro Compare with Apple’s iPhone 14 Lineup
View Full Image
How the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro Compare with Apple’s iPhone 14 Lineup
How the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro Compare with Apple’s iPhone 14 Lineup
View Full Image
How the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro Compare with Apple’s iPhone 14 Lineup
How the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro Compare with Apple’s iPhone 14 Lineup
View Full Image
How the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro Compare with Apple’s iPhone 14 Lineup
How the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro Compare with Apple’s iPhone 14 Lineup
View Full Image
How the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro Compare with Apple’s iPhone 14 Lineup
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