At its annual fall event on Tuesday, Apple unveiled its next two flagship handsets, the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. And while their overall design looks similar to last year's devices, there are a handful of interesting new features that could make them worthy upgrades.
Starting with their displays, screen sizes are staying put at 6.1 and 6.7 inches, respectively, while Apple's Dynamic Island is being used again to house the phone’s selfie cam and FaceID sensors. However, their bezels are noticeably thinner while the frame sports a new brushed finish. On top of that, thanks to their new grade 5 titanium frames, the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max are the lightest Pro handsets Apple has ever made while also providing improved durability compared to the stainless steel chassis on the previous models. The company says the back glass on the iPhone 15 Pro is easier to replace due to a new substructure that also increases overall heat dissipation.
On the side of the phone, there's a new Action button that replaces the old single-function Mute switch. The Action button allows users to quickly access features like the camera, flashlight, Voice Memos and more. It can also be configured to activate Shortcuts, while a new press-and-hold gesture features haptic feedback and visual cues from the Dynamic Island to make sure you know when a command goes through.
For photography, the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max have a new 48-megapixel main camera with a larger sensor, with portrait pics getting an upgrade thanks to a feature that captures depth information automatically so you don’t need to select the mode yourself. For even more detailed shots, the iPhone 15 Pro line can combine adjacent photo pixels to create 24-MP super-high-resolution images. Meanwhile, in darker environments, Apple says its improved Smart HDR does a better job of capturing bright colors with better highlights and wider dynamic range.
But perhaps the biggest photo upgrade is the new 5x telephoto zoom lens on the iPhone 15 Pro Max. The new optical zoom is based on a tetraprism setup that delivers increased range and more sophisticated image stabilization compared to the 3x optical zoom on the smaller iPhone 15 Pro. In general use, Apple will also allow users to choose between three different focal points (24mm, 28mm and 35mm), including the ability to choose one of those ranges as a new default.
Coming sometime later this year, Apple will add a new way to record spatial videos on the iPhone 15 Pro range by capturing footage using both the main and wide-angle cameras at the same time. Videos can then be shared between iPhones or viewed in greater depth on Apple's Vision Pro headset.
As for performance, the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max will be powered by Apple’s latest 3nm A17 chip and a USB-C port that's faster than what you get on the standard iPhone 15 due to support for USB 3 speeds (up to 10 Gbps). Apple says the A17's CPU is 10 percent faster than the A16's while the six-core GPU is 20 percent faster than before with even better power efficiency. And for the first time ever on an A-series chip, the A17 supports hardware-accelerated ray tracing.
Wireless capabilities are getting a boost too thanks to support for Wi-Fi 6E and a second-generation ultra-wideband chip (UWB) that Apple says delivers three times more range than before. This allows the iPhone 15 Pro line to help people more easily find others in a crowd via Find My's Precision Finding feature.
The iPhone 15 Pro will start at $999 with 128GB of storage, while the iPhone 15 Pro Max will start at $1,199 with 256GB of storage. Both models will be available in four colors (black, white, blue and natural titanium) with pre-orders starting on Friday, September 15, followed by an official on-sale date of September 22. Engadget will publish a full review soon, but in the meantime check out our first impressions from Engadget's Deputy Reviews Editor, Cherlynn Low, who was on the ground in Cupertino covering the event,
Follow all of the news live from Apple's 'Wonderlust' event right here.
Update, September 20 2023, 2:28PM ET: Read our full review of the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max, which is now live on Engadget.