Apple’s September event called Wonderlust started off with an emotional ride showcasing people helped by Apple Watch and Emergency SOS on iPhone, and mid-way through there was a somewhat funny skit to boast about Apple’s progress toward becoming fully carbon neutral by 2030.
But here’s a quick summary on the new products they announced and their major features, which basically divides into the Apple Watch and the new iPhone.
The Apple Watch Series 9, Ultra 2, and a refreshed SE are here. The Series 9 and Ultra 2 feature the S9 SiP and Ultra-wideband 2 chip. Double tap is a new way to interact with the watch using just 1 hand, and you can locate your iPhone more easily with a radar-like function.
Apple’s focus on eco-friendliness means no more leather in their cases or watch bands, and the introduction of a new material called FineWoven. As usual, the Ultra 2 is targeted toward more adventurous types with more extreme battery life and durability. Prices range from $250 for the Apple Watch SE, to $400 starting price for the Series 9, and $800 for the Ultra 2. You can order them today and they’ll be released official on Sep 22.
But enough about watches, let’s get to the iPhone!
The annual update to the iPhone is here with the iPhone 15 and the 15 Pro. The line-up choices are mostly the same as the last year, with 6.1″ and 6.7″ screen options for both the non-Pro and Pro-level phones, and with the same pricing as well, although the Pro Max version forces a capacity upgrade to 256 gigs for the cheapest model.
The iPhone 15 gets the dynamic island that was introduced with the iPhone 14 Pro last year, and comes in 5 colors. Another thing it gets from the 14 Pro is the 48 MP main camera, though the quad pixel size is not as large. But the main camera’s 1x zoom now gives 24 megapixel images and supports 2x zoom at 12 megapixels with optical-zoom quality even without the 3rd telephoto camera. And next-generation portraits mean you don’t need to active portrait mode before you take the shot.
The iPhone 15 comes with the A16 Bionic chip just like the iPhone 14 Pro as well. And the iPhone 15 finally has a USB-C connector instead of the Lightning port. Despite bringing many Pro features to the non-Pro iPhone, ProMotion’s 120Hz refresh rate is still limited to the Pro models, so you’ll need to cough up the cash to get smooth scrolling.
iPhone 15 Pro
The iPhone 15 Pro now uses Titanium, making it the lightest Pro iPhone ever. The mute switch has turned into a customizable Action button that can still mute, or launch the camera, or potentially whatever you want. And you can use it as a very expensive clock on your nightstand.
The 15 Pro is powered by the new A17 Pro chip, which leads me to wonder whether next year’s iPhone 16 will get a lesser A17 non-Pro chip instead of just taking this one. Of course, a new chip means faster performance, including hardware ray tracing. Apple’s messaging heavily leans toward marketing the iPhone 15 Pro as the best gaming phone, but most of the Pro-level features are still in the camera system.
The larger Pro Max gets a 5x optical zoom telephoto lens, while the smaller Pro only has 3x like before. Both get Log video recording and the ability to record to external devices, at least with ProRes 4K at up to 60 fps. You can also record spatial video that works with Apple Vision Pro, which hasn’t released yet, so no telling whether this is useful at all.
Whether the Pro models’ upgrades are worth $200 extra is something I’ll look at in the future. For now, you can pre-order the new iPhones on Friday, Sep 15 before the official release on Sep 22. The iPhone 14 Pro is no longer sold by Apple, but the 14 and 13 are still available for a reduced price.