Apple just announced its new high-end iPhones: the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max. They’re made of titanium, they have Action Buttons, and Apple promises they’re the most powerful smartphones Apple has ever made. The 15 Pro starts at $999 with 128GB of storage, and the Pro Max at $1,199 with 256GB of storage. Both will be available for preorder this Friday and on sale September 22nd.
This year’s Pro has a 6.1-inch screen, and the Pro Max has a 6.7-inch display — same as the new iPhone 15 and 15 Plus. Both are powered by the A17 Pro chip, which Apple says has the fastest performance in any smartphone and can even challenge some high-end PCs. Along with a redesigned GPU, Apple seems to think these devices could be poised to level up the kinds of games you can play on your phone. (Of course, Apple likes to talk a lot about high-end gaming, and the results... don’t always keep up.)
Both phones, of course, have a USB-C port on the bottom rather than the old Lightning port. But in the Pro’s case, it could be for more than charging: Apple says the 15 Pro is the first phone with 10Gbps transfer speeds, which will make getting photos and videos (or large files of any kind) off your phone vastly easier.
All that power is inside a new, stronger enclosure, which Apple promises is some of the toughest stuff you’ll find on a phone anywhere in the industry. Just based on what we’re seeing in the video so far, it doesn’t look hugely different, but it’s a big change nonetheless. The new devices come in white, black, blue, and “natural” colors. And naturally, Apple is extremely proud of the complex engineering behind the process.
The Action Button, which replaces the ringer switch on the left side of the iPhone Pro, is a new button that you can customize to run shortcuts, bring up accessibility features, open the camera, turn on the flashlight, and more. By default, it’s still a ringer switch — but you’re going to want to use it to do more.
The Pros both have Super Retina XDR displays with ProMotion and support both the always-on display and the new StandBy mode in iOS 17.
Greg Joswiak, Apple’s marketing chief, promised that the 15 Pro and Pro Max have Apple’s best cameras yet — the equivalent of seven distinct lenses. That includes an upgraded 48-megapixel camera that supposedly takes better low-light photos, captures less lens flare, and uses Apple’s AI systems to take full-res HEIF photos. You can now change your default lens and shoot at multiple focal lengths — 24mm, 28mm, and 35mm — within the main camera. You can also get up to 5x optical zoom, the most Apple has ever offered, to 120mm focal length. Fans of Samsung’s latest cameras won’t be blown away by the specs here, obviously, but they’re a big upgrade for iPhone users.
On the video side, you’ll be able to shoot 4K60 ProRes video on the devices or even shoot directly to an external drive through the USB-C port (as long as you have the right cable). The 15 Pro can capture “spatial video,” too, the kinds of 3D content we’ve been seeing for the Vision Pro — though that feature’s coming later this year. It’s clear that Apple imagines the 15 Pro as both a consumer device but also a genuine professional tool for the creators and filmmakers of the world.
Apple CEO Tim Cook introduced the new devices at Apple’s Wonderlust event at Apple Park in Cupertino, California, though the rumor mill has (as always) been going for months. In terms of how you’ll actually use your iPhone, some of the largest changes this year will be in iOS 17: the new StandBy mode could change the way you use your phone when it’s off, interactive widgets could redesign a lot of homescreens, and features like Live Voicemail and Contact Posters might have you actually making phone calls every now and again.
Apple followed roughly the same rubric it has for the last few iPhone launches: the base models get the stuff from last year’s Pro — like the Dynamic Island and some of the camera tech, even the A16 Bionic chip — and the Pros are the guinea pigs for Apple’s big new ideas.
This year, while Apple may not have talked much about USB-C itself, the new port seems to have given Apple new ideas about how you might capture data on the Pro phones and then use it elsewhere. (Nobody needs 48-megapixel photos for Instagram, but now it’s much easier to use those huge photos elsewhere.) Joswiak called the new Pro lineup “our best and most Pro iPhone ever,” and he’s not wrong. While the 15 models improve the everyday experience of using an iPhone, the new Pro seems to be heading somewhere else entirely.