Apple is expected to debut its iPhone 15 lineup Tuesday, and it could introduce the biggest change to the phone’s design in 11 years.
The press event, which Apple teased with a “wonderlust” tagline, took place at the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, California.
Although the annual iPhone event has become formulaic over the years, announcing incremental changes to battery life, camera system and displays, this year’s USB-C announcement marks the biggest change to the iPhone’s design in 11 years. The change could ultimately streamline the charging process across various devices and brands.
The change comes as Apple looks to give consumers more reasons to upgrade their iPhones. Last month, Apple’s sales fell for the third consecutive quarter. iPhone revenue came in at $39.7 billion for the quarter, marking an approximately 2% year-over-year decline, as people update their devices less often.
Apple kicked off Tuesday’s event by announcing the new Apple Watch Series 9, which features Apple’s in-house silicon chip and ultrawideband connectivity. The updated Apple Watch will let users log health data with their voice, use “name drop” to share contact information by touching another Apple Watch and raise their wrist to automatically brighten the display. The Series 9 will come in colors such as pink, navy, red, gold, silver and graphite.
Apple has previously switched its iPads and MacBooks to USB-C charging, but now may be the time for the company to finally make the change on iPhones. The move would come less than a year after the European Union voted to approve legislation to require smartphones, tablets, digital cameras, portable speakers and other small devices to support USB-C charging by 2024. The first-of-its-kind law aims to pare down the number of chargers and cables consumers must contend with when they purchase a new device and to allow users to mix and match devices and chargers even if they were produced by different manufacturers.
“This is arguably the biggest disruption to iPhone design for several years, but in reality, it is hardly a dramatic move,” said Ben Wood, an analyst at CCS Insight.
Last year, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, Greg Joswiak, publicly stressed the value and ubiquity of the Lightning charger, which is designed for faster device charging, but noted “obviously we will have to comply” with the EU mandate. The Lightning charger was introduced in 2012.
The change to USB-C would also likely usher in a wave of charging accessories, potentially in various colors. It’s possible iPhone users will also pay up for a USB-C wall adapter because it will be a different size connector.
The entire iPhone 15 lineup is rumored to get the “Dynamic Island” feature — an interactive home for alerts, notifications and various controls — that replaces the notch on top of the screen. The tool launched on the higher-end iPhone 14 Pro models last year.
Although there are few other rumors circulating about its entry-level iPhone models, the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max models are expected to get a handful of new features, according to a Bloomberg report. This may include a rear-facing periscope lens, which allows for more optical zoom, and a titanium casing to make the device up to 15% lighter and thinner. The Pro models are also expected to get Apple’s latest A17 chip – the first with 3 nanometer technology, which could deliver faster processing and a longer-lasting battery.
The lineup is also expected to come in various new colors, as hinted at in the Apple logo featured in the event’s invitation, including navy and updated shades of gray, white and silver.
In June, Apple introduced the Vision Pro, a mixed reality headset that the company says will usher in a new era of “spatial computing.” Yoram Wurmser, an analyst at Insider Intelligence, believes the company will tease “some new features and deeper collaborations” to drum up excitement ahead of its 2024 launch. (It’s also possible Apple could announce a launch date). The headset blends both virtual reality and augmented reality, a technology that overlays virtual images on live video of the real world. The headset is Apple’s biggest, and riskiest, product launch in years.
New AirPods, Apple Watches and software release dates
The company typically unveils its latest Apple Watches alongside the iPhone each year, so it’s likely we’ll see the debut of the Apple Watch Series 9 and possibly its next-generation Ultra 2 smartwatch, its more rugged wearable for serious sports enthusiasts. According to Bloomberg, Apple is working on a full revamp of its smartwatch for next year’s Apple Watch Series 10, so this year’s updates will be relatively minor.
In addition, Apple is expected to show off its next-generation AirPods with a new charging case that will work with USB-C cables. It’s also likely to announce launch dates for its next-generation operating systems for the iPhone, iPads, Mac computers and Apple Watch.
In May, for example, Apple showed off a slew of new tools coming to iOS 17, such as a more accurate autocorrect, a new feature called Live Voicemail that will transcribe a caller’s message in real time, and a NameDrop tool that lets users share their contact information by holding two iPhones close together. The iPhone’s phone app will also reposition the hang up button to the bottom right of the screen, next to other functions.
With the new iPhone expected to take center stage, many analysts don’t anticipate Apple will release new iPads or Mac computers until October. And despite rivals Samsung and Google doubling down on foldable devices, Apple is still not expected to unveil a similar version this fall.