The New iPhone 15 And Apple Watch Series 9: 7 Big Things To Know

Apple’s forthcoming iPhone 15 models are ditching the Lightning connector in favor of a standard USB-C cable, but there are several other noteworthy features, including a more advanced camera system, a faster system-on-chip and a customizable Action button in the Pro models. Here’s what you need to know about the new iPhone 15 series and Apple Watch Series 9.

Apple on Tuesday disclosed several features for its newly revealed iPhone 15 series and Apple Watch Series 9, but one of the biggest changes that will generate discusssion is the fact that the smartphone lineup is ditching the proprietary Lightning connector in favor of a standard USB-C cable.

It’s not a surprise Apple is moving iPhone 15 devices to USB-C after the Cupertino, Calif.-based electronics giant said last year that it planned to comply with new European Union rules requiring all phones sold after fall 2024 within its territories to use the connectivity standard.

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The move means people can use the same USB-C connector to charge an iPhone, Mac, iPad and an updated version of the AirPods Pro also revealed yesterday, according to Apple. They can charge the updated AirPods or an Apple Watch by connecting them to an iPhone 15 via USB-C too.

But USB- C wasn’t the only major talking point at yesterday’s Apple event where the iPhone 15 models and Apple Watch Series 9 smartwatches were disclosed. Far from it.

Here are several other big things to know about the forthcoming iPhone 15, Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 models, from prices and release date to features and specifications.

Prices And Release Date for iPhone 15 And Apple Watch Series 9

The new iPhone lineup consists of four models: the iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. They arrive Sept. 22, just like the Apple Watch Series 9 and the Apple Watch Ultra 2 models.

For starting prices, iPhone 15 will cost $799, iPhone 15 Plus will cost $899, iPhone 15 Pro will cost $999 and iPhone 15 Pro Max will cost $1,199.

The Apple Watch Series 9 will start at $399, and the premium Apple Watch Ultra 2 will cost $799.

Pre-orders for all devices begin on Friday.

New iOS 17 Coming To All iPhone 15 Models

The new iPhone 15 models will come with Apple’s new iOS 17 operating system, which Apple said will make the smartphones “more personal and intuitive.”

The Phone app is getting “major updates” with iOS 17. These includes new features such as Contact Posters, which lets users customize the appearance of contacts, and Live Voicemail, which uses local processing to enable real-time transcription of people leaving voicemails.

The Messages app is getting upgrades with a “new stickers experience, more powerful search, transcription of audio messages and Check In,” which lets users notify friends and family automatically when they reach a destination.

Other new features include NameDrop, which lets users share contact information by bringing two iPhones together; StandBy, which provides a “customizable full-screen experience with glanceable information to be viewed from a distance”; interactive widgets to make it easier for users to interact with different apps; and improved private browsing for Safari.

iPhone 15 Pro Models: Features And Specifications

When it comes to the new iPhone 15 models, not everything is equal for some of the new features and specifications outside of the normal differences in size and weight.

The 6.1-inch iPhone 15 Pro and 6.7-inch iPhone 15 Pro Max get the most substantial new features. These include an “aerospace-grade” titanium design, a more advanced 48-megapixel main camera system with a new super-high-resolution 24-megapixel default lens, an all-new 5x telephoto camera, a customizable Action button and the new A17 Pro chip for “next-level gaming experiences and pro performance.”

These premium models are the lightest to come out of Apple’s iPhone Pro lineup yet, thanks to the record high strength-to-weight ratio for their titanium bodies, according to the company. The iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max also come with the thinnest border yet for an iPhone.

Apple is introducing the Action button as a replacement for the single-function switch used to toggle between ring and silent on previous iPhone models as well as the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro. With its customizability, the Action Button can do much more than mute the phone, letting users use a press-and-hold gesture to activate the camera, flashlight and several other apps.

The iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are both powered by Apple’s new A17 Pro, which the company said is the “industry’s first 3-nanometer chip” and comes with the “biggest GPU redesign in Apple’s history” to enable console-like video game experiences.

On the A17 Pro, the CPU is up to 10 percent faster, the Neural Engine is up to two times faster and the “pro-class” GPU is up to 20 percent faster than Apple’s A16 chip, which is used for the previous generation of iPhone Pro models as well as the new iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus.

Apple promised that the A17 Pro will enable “smother graphics as well as more immersive [augmented reality] applications and gaming experiences,” thanks to its support for hardware-accelerated ray tracing. The company said this is enabling console games such as Resident Evil Village, Assassin’s Creed Mirage and Death Stranding to come to the new iPhone Pro models.

The 48-megapixel main camera was built exclusively for the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, according to Apple, and it lets users switch between the popular 24mm, 28mm and 35mm focal lengths while also letting users choose one as the default. While the iPhone 15 Pro has a 3x telephoto camera, the iPhone 15 Pro Max has the “longest optical zoom ever an on iPhone: 5x at 120mm.”

Both the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max support USB 3, which allows users to transfer data via USB-C at speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second, 20 times faster than the previous generation.

Regular iPhone 15 Models: Features And Specifications

The 6.1-inch iPhone 15 and 6.7-inch iPhone 15 Plus come with what Apple is calling an “industry-first color-infused back glass” in addition to a “stunning, textured matte finish” and a “new contoured edge on the aluminum enclosure.”

On the Super Retina XDR displays of both phones, peak HDR brightness can reach up to 1,600 nits and go even higher to 2,000 nits in sunny outdoor settings, double that of the previous generation.

The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus feature a 48-megapixel main camera system that come with a quad-pixel sensor and “100 percent Focus Pixels for fast autofocus” as well as a new 24-megapixel super-high-resolution default lens. The system also comes with a 2x telephoto zoom option.

The two phones are getting the same A16 Bionic chip that powered the iPhone 14 Pro models from last year. This chip “easily handles intensive tasks while delivering extraordinary battery life” while also enabling “smooth graphics for streaming videos and playing games.” The chip’s Neural Engine is used to run “even faster machine learning computations” for features like Live Voicemail.

Features Coming To All iPhone 15 Models

All iPhone 15 models will get expanded safety capabilities in the form of Roadside Assistance, a new feature that will contact automobile service provider AAA via satellite when a user’s car has trouble and there is no cellular and Wi-Fi coverage. The feature is also coming to iPhone 14 models.

The new phones come with a second-generation Ultra Wideband chip, which allows two iPhones to use Precision Finding to “connect at three times the range as before,” according to Apple.

Improved photo-taking capabilities are coming to the iPhone 15 series too, with Smart HDR providing “true-to-life renderings of skin tones while ensuring photos have brighter highlights, richer midtones and deeper shadows when viewed in the Photos app.” The Photos app will also know to switch automatically to portrait mode when a person or animal enters the frame, or when a user taps to focus.

Apple Watch Series 9: Features And Specifications

The new Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 smartwatch models come with Apple’s new S9 system-in-package (SiP) as well as a new “double tap” gesture to control an app’s primary function.

With the new S9 SiP, the Neural Engine is capable of processing machine learning tasks up to two times faster than the previous generation.

This new level of processing power gives the Apple Watch Series 9 models and Apple Watch Ultra 2 the ability to handle Siri requests locally rather than requesting information from the internet.

As a result, Siri can serve up certain requests faster, such as starting a workout or setting a timer, and answer health- and fitness-related queries in a secure and private manner.

Users can perform the new double tap gesture by tapping the index finger and the thumb of their watch hand twice. This gesture can be used as the primary button for Apple Watch apps, letting users stop a timer, play and pause music and answer and end a phone call.

The Apple Watch Series 9 can display up to 2,000 nits of brightness, double what was capable in the previous generation, and it can go down to 1 nit for situations when a dim display is warranted.

The new smartwatches come with a second-generation Ultra Wideband chip, which gives them the ability to help users find a misplaced iPhone 15 through visual, haptic and audio guidance as part of the same Precision Finding feature.

The chip also enables deeper integration between the Apple Watch and HomePod. The Apple Watch Series 9 will launch Now Playing to control media on the HomePod when a user gets within four meters of the home entertainment steaming device.

The Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 will come with Apple’s new watchOS 10, which comes with new watch faces, a new way to quickly view information and access relevant widgets when they’re needed and Bluetooth connectivity for connecting to sensors for cycles, among other new features.

The Apple Watch Series 9 is available in 41mm and 45mm sizes, and there are several watch band options, including the new FineWoven bands that are made with microtwill from mostly post-consumer recycled content instead of leather, which was used for previous bands.

Apple Watch Ultra 2: Features And Specifications

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 is what Apple said is its “most capable and rugged smartwatch yet,” designed to withstand extreme environments, from 500 meters below sea level to as much as 9,000 meters above.

The 49mm smartwatch comes with an ultra-bright display, which can go up to 3,000 nits, 50 percent higher than the first generation and the Apple Watch Series 9. Like the Apple Watch Series 9, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 can go down to 1 nit when a dim screen is needed.

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 comes with a new watch face called Modular Ultra that uses the outermost edge of the display to show real-time data such as seconds, altitude or depth.

The premium smartwatch can take advantage of an updated Oceanic+ app to track critical data for freediving sessions, which relies on breath-holding instead of scuba gear to stay underwater. Apple’s Depth app also now has the ability to record a log of each dive session for review on the Apple Watch Ultra or within the Fitness app on an iPhone.