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[…]

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So, right now "A17 Pro" is just a marketing moniker, like A11–A16 were all "Bionic", or the "A10 Fusion" before. I wonder how this will evolve with future products, though — especially if a non-Pro iPad gets the A17 Pro while an iPad Pro merely gets the non-Pro M3.

I remember when phones came with lots of buttons /s. Who'd have thunk a new button would be a new feature?

Out of curiosity, where there any upgrades to the LIDAR module?

Kevin Schumacher

It's one thing when Apple calls it "Space Gray," because technically gray is one of any number of shades in a large continuum. (The "Space" part does imply being on the darker side, which they forget some years.) But this "Titanium Black" nonsense is lighter than the Space Gray iPhone 14 Pro I have right now, even more markedly so on the sides.

What is so difficult about making a black phone? Or alternatively, you know, picking color names that aren't complete lies?

@Kevin Yeah, that one time they made an actual black phone, didn’t everyone love it?

A16 has AV1 HW decoder. Seems M3 will match and M3 Pro will get HW encoder.

@Michael Tsai - that piano black phone was my favorite. It was also extra grippy; I really miss that. I hate the thickness of cases - it was nice with that one that it really wasn't needed.

@EricE Yeah, I feel like they are getting less grippy. I used to not need a case. Then they made the edges rounded and they got slippery. Making them square again helped, but I still feel I need a case now.

Re Nick Heer and the cable: It's a charge cable. Yes it connects to a port that supports higher speeds, but that's not what it's for. MacBooks Pro with Thunderbolt 4 also ship with a cable that only supports USB 2.

@Alexander: That's the way Apple wants to market it, but it's a cop-out. A cable with USB 3 support would charge the iPhone equally as well.

Anyone who wants to transfer data at USB 3 speeds will need to buy a different cable from the one in the box. This will require many USB 3 cables to be manufactured that wouldn’t have been otherwise.

It’s possible that Apple did the math and realized that shipping a USB 2 cable with the phone would lead to a lower environmental impact overall. (There are certainly some users who will never use the cable for data transfer, or who are okay with slower transfers.) But without Apple showing their work, it’s tempting to conclude that their real reasons are to increase the profit margin on the phone itself and to drive revenue from people buying better cables.

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