The iPhone 15 brings better cameras and USB-C, but is Apple’s new lineup all that different from the last one?
To the surprise of no one, Apple announced the new iPhone 15 during its Wonderlust event on Tuesday, introducing it alongside the new Apple Watch Series 9 and an updated pair of AirPods Pro that come with a USB-C charging case. That means, as of today, Apple’s iPhone lineup consists of the iPhone 15, 15 Plus, 15 Pro, and 15 Pro Max, as well as the last-gen iPhone 14, iPhone 13, and the third-gen iPhone SE. The iPhone 15 lineup won’t be available until September 22nd, but you can preorder the phones on September 15th, starting at $799.
Every phone in the new iPhone 15 lineup comes with a USB-C port and does away with the notch in favor of Apple’s Dynamic Island feature. Meanwhile, the more premium phones — specifically the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max — come equipped with the new A17 Pro chip, an Action Button, and 10Gbps transfer speeds.
This is all exciting stuff, but do these new improvements justify the price? To help you decide, we’ve put together a spec-by-spec breakdown of how the entry-level iPhone 14 models stack up against the entire iPhone 15 lineup ahead of our full reviews later this month.
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty details, we should probably address one of the more significant differences between the various models: the price. The 6.1-inch iPhone 14 has dropped to $699, while the iPhone 15 starts at $799. The iPhone 14 Plus and iPhone 15 Plus go for $799 and $899, respectively, both of which come with a larger 6.7-inch display.
The 6.1-inch iPhone 15 Pro, meanwhile, starts at $999, while the 6.7-inch iPhone 15 Pro Max starts at $1,199. Along with more capabilities (which we’ll dive into shortly), the Pro models offer a 1TB storage option, which the entry-level iPhone 14 and 15 models lack.
Now let’s talk about the display. This year, Apple swapped out the notch found on the lower-end iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus for the Dynamic Island. Once reserved only for the premium iPhone 14 models, the feature essentially acts as a moveable pill-shaped cutout, one that displays real-time notifications, alerts, and activities.
Speaking of changes to the display, every phone in the iPhone 15 lineup features a brighter screen than the iPhone 14, with a peak brightness of 2,000 nits. Theoretically, this means the display should be easier to view when you’re outside, though we’ll let you know how that pans out once we’ve tested it. In addition to the Dynamic Island, the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max also feature an always-on display, which is something the entry-level iPhone 14 and 15 models lack.
There are also some notable design differences to be aware of. Only the iPhone 15 and Pro Max feature a titanium body, for example, which should make the smartphones both stronger and lighter. They’re also the only Apple phones to feature the Action Button, which essentially takes the place of the ringer button and can be customized to create shortcuts, launch the camera, and carry out a range of other tasks.
Unsurprisingly, USB-C is perhaps one of the more notable updates this year. Each phone in the iPhone 15 lineup now features a USB-C port on the bottom instead of Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector, which the iPhone 14 lineup is still stuck with. The long-rumored switch should allow for faster charging and higher data transfer rates, too, and is particularly true of the 15 Pro, which Apple says is the first phone to offer 10Gbps transfer speeds. That means it should be significantly faster at transferring large files, including photos and videos.
In terms of battery life, both the iPhone 14 and iPhone 15 max out at 20 hours, while the iPhone 15 Pro Max should last the longest at up to 29 hours. Both Plus models offer up to 26 hours of video playback, but strangely, the iPhone 15 Pro maxes out at 23 hours.
When it comes to cameras, the entry-level iPhone 14 and iPhone 15 models share a dual-camera system that includes a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera. This year, however, the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus offer an improved 48-megapixel main shooter — more specifically, the same high-resolution main camera found in the Pro models. In contrast, the iPhone 14 offers a lower-resolution 12-megapixel main shooter. The new iPhone 15 lineup also brings some updates to both night mode and portrait mode, the latter of which will now automatically go into effect when you’re taking photos of people or animals.
All of the entry-level models lack the triple-camera array found in the premium iPhone 15 models, which includes an additional 12-megapixel telephoto lens. You can also now change the main camera lens in the Pro models and shoot at multiple focal lengths: 24mm, 28mm, and 35mm. The iPhone 15 Pro Max has a new 5x tetraprism zoom lens with a 120mm focal length, too, which is the most Apple has ever offered and longer than the 3X 77mm focal length on the iPhone 15 Pro.
There are also notable improvements when it comes to video recording. All of the phones feature a cinematic mode that can record 4K resolution at 30fps and 4K at 24fps. However, the 15 Pro models will also be able to capture “spatial video” later this year, which are essentially 3D videos that can be viewed with Apple’s forthcoming Vision Pro headset. They will also allow you to shoot 4K60 ProRes video and, thanks to their support for USB-C, let you record video to external storage devices.
In terms of performance, the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus use the two-year-old A15 Bionic chipset, which we found fast enough in our testing. However, it’s likely less snappy than the A16 found in the entry-level iPhone 15 models and probably more noticeably so when compared to the premium phones. The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max run on the new A17 Pro chip, after all, which Apple claims to be some of the fastest chips currently available.
Combined with an updated GPU, Apple says the new smartphones are particularly well-suited for demanding tasks, including gaming. The iPhone 15 Pro seems to handle games well enough, at least in our brief time playing with it, but we’ll have to test it more to know for sure.
Speaking of chips, the iPhone 15 comes with a second-gen ultra wideband chip like the new Apple Watch Series 9. The updated component enables more precise tracking when using Apple’s Find My network, thus making it easier to find friends and loved ones who are also using an iPhone 15. It also should improve connectivity to other devices with the same chip that are further away.
Finally, when it comes to software, the iPhone 15 lineup ships with iOS 17. So far, that seems like a minor update that brings fun little features like Live Voicemail, a new Journal app, and StandBy mode. The latter turns your screen into something akin to a smart display, one that remains visible while your phone is charging in landscape mode. It should be noted, however, that you’ll also be able to download iOS 17 on the iPhone 14 and 15 Plus when it launches on September 18th, so you’ll be able to play with these features no matter which phone you buy.
There are other smaller differences to be aware of. All of the phones also support 5G, but only the 15 Pro models feature Wi-Fi 6E support. That makes them more futureproof and allows for faster wireless performance. The premium phones also come with a Thread radio built in, which can be used to control Thread-enabled smart home devices.
That’s just a brief overview of some of the main differences between the iPhone 15 and iPhone 14 lineup, though. You can dig into the more granular differences in the chart below, where we’ve rounded up all the relevant specs.