5 big reveals from Apple's iPhone 15event, including its first carbon-neutral device
Apple unveiled its iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro models at the ‘Wonderlust’ event, along with the Series 9 Apple Watch—and even a new fabric.
BY CHRIS MORRIS4 MINUTE READ
Apple’s September press events are, in many ways, the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. Given how popular the company’s iPhones, Airpods, and more are for gift givers, the announcement of the latest crop energizes both consumers looking to upgrade and those who are starting to prepare their wish list.
This year’s event, called “Wonderlust,” was held at the company’s headquarters in Cupertino and streamed on Apple’s website—and in addition to the new phones, it also introduced some notable changes to the company’s standing practices. Here’s a look at some of the big announcements and themes the company focused on this year.
IPHONE 15 OFFERS CAMERA UPGRADES, IPHONE 15 PRO BOASTS BIG GRAPHICS LEAP
As expected, Apple introduced four new versions of its latest iPhone, the iPhone 15. This year’s update is largely iterative, with a faster processor and better camera, but only a handful of needle-moving new features—along with a muted color palette.
Chief among those is an advance in the cameras. You’ll no longer have to remember to switch from “photo” to “portrait” mode—and can even shift the focus after the photo has been taken. There’s also a new roadside assistance feature, which Apple has partnered with AAA for, that will let people request assistance via satellite, meaning they can get help even if they’re in a cellular dead zone. (The service will be free for AAA members and available to nonmembers for an unspecified charge.)
The biggest updates were reserved for the iPhone 15 Pro Max. The Pro and Pro Max will be made with titanium, and the mute button has been turned into an action button. By default, it will let you control whether the phone rings or is silent, but by holding it down, you can reassign it to call up your camera, voice recorder, or more.
Transfer speed on the Pro and Pro Max are up to 20 times faster, the company said. And the new GPU is the “biggest redesign in the history of Apple GPUs,” which should make for more immersive mobile games. And the camera is getting a big performance bump, with Zoom capabilities of up to 120mm. Turning the phone sideways will let you shoot 3D spatial videos, which you’ll later be able to watch on the Vision Pro.
All of these new features are giving Apple an opening to increase the starting price of its most premium model (though it did upgrade the low-end of storage to 256 GB). Here’s what you can expect to pay, for a bare minimum:
iPhone 15 – $799
iPhone 15 Plus – $899
iPhone 15 Pro – $999
iPhone 15 Pro Max – $1,199
Preorders for the new phones get underway Friday, and the phones will be available September 22.
USB-C IS THE NEW CHARGING STANDARD
It’s official, the days of the Lightning cable are coming to an end. The new crop of phones, Airpods, and other devices will not use Apple’s proprietary charging cable, transitioning instead to USB-C. The EU essentially forced Apple’s hand in that decision. Late last year, the governmental organization approved a common charger law, requiring electronic devices to support USB-C charging.
Politics aside, it should make things more convenient for consumers, as they’ll only have to carry a single charging cable for their gadgets now.
XR IS COMING, BUT FOR NOW APPLE DOESN’T WANT YOU TO FOCUS ON THAT
The Vision Pro was the big news for Apple earlier this year, but the company was largely quiet on that XR device during Tuesday’s event, aside from reassurances that it will be great and is still on track. That’s not all that surprising. The Vision Pro won’t go on sale until next year, and the September event is meant to spark consumer interest in items they’ll be able to get in the immediate future.
Any substantive discussion of the headset would have been a distraction (though the company certainly noted how advances in the iPhone ProMax and Series 9 watches could be exploited by the XR device). Expect to hear more from the company about the Vision Pro in early 2024.
APPLE WATCH WILL PREPARE CONSUMERS FOR VISION PRO CONTROLS
Along with the expected updates, including the addition to a more powerful Series 9 chip in the Apple Watch Series 9, the company unveiled a new gesture—the double tap.
By tapping their index and thumb together, users will be able to answer a call, end a call, and control the primary button. It’s all powered by the neural engine in the Series 9. But more importantly, it gets consumers used to the gesture, which was also demonstrated earlier this year with the Vision Pro announcement.
By adding the double tap to Apple Watches next month, Apple is normalizing the action, which should make the XR headset seem more natural when it arrives. As COO Jeff Williams noted: “You will rely on it every day.”
APPLE WATCHES HAVE GONE CARBON NEUTRAL
The Series 9 Apple Watch, said Apple, will be a line of demarcation for the company on environmental issues. Effective today, Apple said it would no longer use leather for watch bands or iPhone cases (instead, the company plans to use a new fabric called Finewoven). It also intends to eliminate plastic from all of its packaging by the end of next year.
The company says the Series 9 Apple Watch will be its first-ever carbon neutral product, using recycled aluminum, gold, tin, and even cobalt, along with purchasing carbon credits. Additionally, starting this year, all Apple Watch manufacturing is done via renewable energy sources like solar and wind power.
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