Archive for September 12, 2023

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max

Apple (Hacker News, ArsTechnica, MacRumors):

Apple today debuted iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, designed with aerospace-grade titanium that’s strong yet lightweight to deliver Apple’s lightest Pro models ever. The new design also features contoured edges and a customizable Action button, allowing users to personalize their iPhone experience. Powerful camera upgrades enable the equivalent of seven pro lenses with incredible image quality, including a more advanced 48MP Main camera system that now supports the new super-high-resolution 24MP default, the next generation of portraits with Focus and Depth Control, improvements to Night mode and Smart HDR, and an all-new 5x Telephoto camera exclusively on iPhone 15 Pro Max. A17 Pro unlocks next-level gaming experiences and pro performance. The new USB‑C connector is supercharged with USB 3 speeds — up to 20x faster than USB 2 — and together with new video formats, enables powerful pro workflows that were not possible before.


The all-new Action button replaces the single-function switch used to toggle between ring and silent, offering additional options so users can choose between quickly accessing the camera or flashlight; activating Voice Memos, Focus modes, Translate, and accessibility features like Magnifier; or using Shortcuts for more options. A press-and-hold gesture with fine-tuned haptic feedback and visual cues in the Dynamic Island ensure the new button launches the intended action.


A17 Pro brings improvements to the entire chip, including the biggest GPU redesign in Apple’s history. The new CPU is up to 10 percent faster with microarchitectural and design improvements, and the Neural Engine is now up to 2x faster, powering features like autocorrect and Personal Voice in iOS 17. The pro-class GPU is up to 20 percent faster and unlocks entirely new experiences, featuring a new 6-core design that increases peak performance and energy efficiency.

Will the Action button trickle down to the iPhone 16 next year, like the Dynamic Island did this year?

Tim Hardwick:

Apple’s just-announced iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max introduce four new color options: Black Titanium, White Titanium, Blue Titanium, and Natural Titanium.

I kind of like the blue, but this continues the trend of the Pro phones not getting fun colors.

John Gruber:

What everyone groks about this strategy is that the pro models are more expensive. Of course they are. But there are a few aspects to Apple’s strategy that many people miss. The most important is that the iPhone Pro models are only produced for one year. If the pattern holds, come next week, the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max will cease production, and be replaced in the product line by the new 15 Pro models. The non-pro iPhones, however, stay in production for at least two additional years, dropping in price by $100 each year.


Update (2023-09-13): Juli Clover:

Apple did not change the price of the iPhone 15 Pro, and it is still priced starting at $999 for 128GB of storage.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is priced starting at $1,199, but that's only because Apple has eliminated the 128GB storage tier for that device. It now starts at 256GB, and $1,199 is the same price Apple charged for the 256GB iPhone 14 Pro Max.

Nick Heer:

It also appears to me that the cable included with the Pro models is limited to USB 2 speeds and taking advantage of the faster speeds of a standard now ten years old requires the purchase of another cable.

I know lots of people will write this off as a petty complaint for a feature not many people will use and even fewer will take full advantage of — that USB 2 is good enough for most people. But the thousand-dollar “Pro” model iPhones are not supposed to be good enough; they are supposed to be the flagship models, showcasing the best of what Apple is able to do for that year. Besides, USB 2 has not actually been good enough for a very long time. It was Apple’s decision to neglect that connectivity even at a time when more people were regularly using wired data transfers.

Tim Hardwick:

The all-new Action button replaces the single-function switch used to toggle between ring and silent, offering additional options so users can choose between quickly accessing the camera or flashlight, activate Voice Memos, Focus modes, Translate, and accessibility features like Magnifier. Users can also associate it with Shortcuts for more options.

Jason Snell:

I got a chance to use the Action Button, which replaces the ring/silent switch. It’s really well designed, as you have to press and hold the button in order to trigger an effect–thereby avoiding inadvertent activations. If you just do a short press of the button, cue text appears to indicate that you need to press and hold to trigger the effect.


First, the phone is noticeably lighter. This is not a minor, quirky, “I suppose if you weighed it you’d grudgingly admit it’s a few grams lighter” sort of thing. It’s very clearly noticeable, thanks to the combined titanium and aluminum design. It doesn’t feel flimsy, mind you–it’s very solid but quite lighter.

Juli Clover:

The iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are approximately nine percent lighter than the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max.

Steve Moser:

Apple said that the iPhone 15 Pro could record up to ProRes 4K at 60 fps to external storage thanks to the new USB-C port. The code reveals that ProRes 2.8K at 60 fps is also supported when recording to external storage devices. This is a significant improvement over the iPhone 14 Pro, which only supported ProRes 2.8K and 4K at 30 fps, and did not allow for recording directly to a storage device.

Hartley Charlton:

All of the new devices Apple today announced at its “Wonderlust” event feature no battery life improvements at all compared to their direct predecessors.

This comes contrary to a multitude of rumors prior to Apple’s event, which suggested that the major efficiency improvements of the S9 and A17 chips would bring battery life improvements.

Michael Love:

This suggests one of three things:

1) Apple is under-selling battery life for some reason;
2) Apple put all of the gains from 3nm into performance; or
3) TSMC N3 is just not that big a deal.

Update (2023-09-14): Kuba Suder:

I’ve updated a spreadsheet of iPhone dimensions that I’ve been maintaining for several years with the latest models. Looks like the new titanium Pros are pretty chonky and they only got back to the ~ 12 Pro weight level[…]

Update (2024-05-09): See also:

John Gruber (Threads):

I went into this thinking I might leave my Action button set to toggle silent mode, on the grounds that we already have these shortcuts for jumping into the Camera app, but one thing that’s become clear to me these past few days is that assigning the Action button to Camera is super useful when you want to jump to the Camera app while your iPhone is unlocked because you’re already using it. It’s cool and useful to have a button that always jumps you right into Camera no matter what state your iPhone is in.


iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus

Apple (MacRumors, ArsTechnica, Hacker News, Slashdot):

Both models feature the Dynamic Island, and an advanced camera system designed to help users take fantastic photos of everyday moments in their lives. A powerful 48MP Main camera enables super-high-resolution photos and a new 2x Telephoto option to give users a total of three optical zoom levels — like having a third camera. The iPhone 15 lineup also introduces the next generation of portraits, making it easier to capture portraits with great detail and low-light performance. Building on Apple’s innovative satellite infrastructure, Roadside Assistance via satellite can connect users to AAA if they have car trouble while off the grid. With A16 Bionic for powerful, proven performance; a USB‑C connector; Precision Finding for Find My friends; and industry-leading durability features, iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus represent a huge leap forward.


A 48MP Main camera shoots sharp photos and videos while capturing fine details, with a quad-pixel sensor and 100 percent Focus Pixels for fast autofocus. Using the power of computational photography, the Main camera gives users a new 24MP super-high-resolution default, offering incredible image quality at a practical file size ideal for storing and sharing.


Smart HDR captures subjects and the background with more true-to-life renderings of skin tones, while ensuring photos have brighter highlights, richer midtones, and deeper shadows when viewed in the Photos app. This advanced HDR rendering is also available to third-party apps, so images can look even better when shared online.

It starts at $799, with Roadside Assistance via satellite free for AAA members for two years. You have to pay another $30 to get it unlocked.

Haje Jan Kamps (Hacker News):

Today, as part of its iPhone 15 launch, the Cupertino-based org announced that the Lightning connector was going bye-bye, 11 years to the day since its introduction

Jason Koebler:

Apple executives talked about designing the iPhone 15 Pro for repairability, the first time that repair has ever been mentioned at an iPhone release keynote.


This tweak for the iPhone 15 Pro mirrors a change that was made on the normal iPhone 14 last year (but was not on the iPhone 14 Pro), which allows the phone to be opened from the front or the back. Repairing the back glass on previous versions of iPhones was a nightmare on previous models, as I, who owns an iPhone 11 Pro with an extremely busted back, can attest.

Tim Hardwick:

Apple’s just-announced iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus introduce five new color options: A light pink shade, yellow, blue, green, and black.

The colors are all really light, with even the black looking more like a dark gray. I think the iPhone 12 had the best (recent) colors.

Mitchel Broussard:

Apple has announced a new textile it’s calling “FineWoven,” which is made of 68 percent post-consumer content and is overall more environmentally friendly compared to the company’s previous line of leather accessories. Apple confirmed it will no longer use leather for new Apple accessories, starting today.


Update (2023-09-13): Jason Snell:

My first impression when picking up an iPhone 15 was just how smooth it felt. Mostly that’s down to the softened edges that don’t contain the harder right-angled corners that the previous model did. It feels more comfortable to hold in my hand, that’s for sure.

Joe Rossignol:

Priced at $29, the USB-C to Lightning Adapter allows for Lightning accessories to be connected to the new iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro, and iPhone 15 Pro Max models with USB-C ports for charging, data transfer, and audio connectivity.

Nick Heer:

But, as rumoured, the speed advantages are limited to the Pro models. Even if you use a faster cable with the standard iPhone 15, it will only support USB 2 speeds — the same data transfer standard used by the iPods Apple sold twenty years ago.

Joe Rossignol:

As always, there were many rumors leading up to the event that gave us an idea of what to expect from the devices, but not all of them were accurate.

Juli Clover:

With the launch of the new iPhone 15 models, Apple has discontinued the iPhone 13 mini, the last remaining flagship iPhone under six inches.

Update (2024-05-09): See also:

Apple Watch Ultra 2

Apple (MacRumors):

Apple Watch Ultra 2 offers all of the features users love about Ultra, plus the powerful new S9 SiP, a magical new double tap gesture, Apple’s brightest display ever, expanded altitude range, on-device Siri, Precision Finding for iPhone, and advanced capabilities for water adventures.


A new watch face designed for Apple Watch Ultra — Modular Ultra — takes advantage of the large display, using the outermost edge to present real-time data, including seconds, altitude, or depth. It offers the most complications of any Apple digital watch face to customize for sports, outdoor adventures, and ocean and water activities.

It’s $799.


Update (2024-02-01): Matt Birchler:

After the Ultra 2 announcement, I turned on AssistiveTouch on my Ultra 1 and was kinda blown away by how convenient it was to do some things with a pinch gesture. It was definitely a bit fiddly, but when it was at its best, it was spectacular. How much better would a more refined version of this with better pinch recognition be on the Ultra 2?!

Turns out, better and worse.

On the plus side, pinch recognition is absolutely wonderful, and is effectively 100% for me. I’d put it up there with Face ID in terms of success rate, which is to say basically 100%.

On the downside, this feature is very half-baked right now. The short version of my criticism is that it doesn’t do as much as you want, when it does something it often does the opposite of what you want, and you never know when it’s going to work or not because the UI is basically non-existent.

Apple Watch Series 9

Apple (ArsTechnica, MacRumors):

Apple Watch Series 9 is powered by custom Apple silicon in the all-new S9 SiP. Apple’s most powerful watch chip yet delivers systemwide improvements and brand-new features, including a new double tap gesture and on-device Siri with the ability to access and log health data privately and securely. Apple Watch Series 9 also has a new 4-core Neural Engine that can process machine learning tasks up to twice as fast, when compared with Apple Watch Series 8. The power efficiency of the S9 SiP allows Apple Watch Series 9 to maintain all-day 18-hour battery life.


Users can tap the index finger and thumb of their watch hand together twice to quickly and conveniently perform many of the most common actions on Apple Watch Series 9.

Double tap controls the primary button in an app so it can be used to stop a timer, play and pause music, or snooze an alarm. The gesture can be used to answer and end a phone call, and even to take a photo with the Camera Remote on Apple Watch.

It starts at the same $399. Unfortunately, I have not seen anything suggesting that on-device Siri can create reminders.


Each carbon neutral Apple Watch model meets the following strict criteria: 100 percent clean electricity for manufacturing and product use, 30 percent recycled or renewable material by weight, and 50 percent of shipping without the use of air transportation. These combined efforts result in at least a 75 percent reduction in product emissions for each model. The company will use high-quality carbon credits to address the small amount of remaining emissions, resulting in a carbon neutral product footprint.


Update (2023-09-13): Aaron Pearce:

Why does this double tap need a new processor? Didn’t it work on the older Watches as the accessibility feature already?

Alex Guyot:

Apple says the gesture is enabled by the S9 neural engine processing accelerometer, gyroscope, and optical heart sensor data through a new machine learning algorithm.

Stephen Hackett:

Tapping your index finger and thumb together will trigger whatever is the default button on the screen at any given time, assuming you are looking at a first-party watchOS app. I was told directly that there is not an API for third-party developers to integrate this into their app beyond use with notifications. Once you’re in a third-party app, there’s no double tap support, at least for now.

Update (2023-10-25): John Gruber:

The best new feature in Apple Watch this year has to be the new double tap gesture, enabling no-touch manipulation of the watch. We got to try this in the hands-on area, and it Just Worked™. Fast, accurate, and natural. In the keynote and their marketing materials, Apple says you need to tap your thumb and index finger, but I tried with my thumb and middle finger and it worked just fine. No more touching your nose to your watch when your hands are dirty from food preparation or carrying something you can’t set down. And the double tap gesture parallels the main gesture that will be used to navigate VisionOS. (One question that occurs to me now: What happens when you’re using a Vision Pro while wearing an Apple Watch, and you double tap with your watch hand? Does the gesture apply to both devices?