iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max: Release date, price and what to expect from Apple event

It is possible that prices of the Pro models could rise as much as $200 owing to the addition of a periscope lens and titanium chassis

A launch for the iPhone 15 on September 22 would give Apple a week of iPhone 15 sales in its fiscal fourth quarter, which ends that month. Antonie Robertson / The National
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It’s the day before Apple's new iPhones are revealed – which means the clock is ticking towards the most highly anticipated technology launch of the year.

Here’s what we know so far about Apple’s next line-up of flagship devices, presumably to be called the iPhone 15.

When will the new iPhones be unveiled?

After much speculation, Apple confirmed last week that it will be unveiling the new iPhones on Tuesday, September 12, at an event it has called Wonderlust, which will be streamed online at 10am Pacific time (9pm UAE time).

An invitation came with the usual one-line tag line and a touched-up Apple logo, which were in shades of blue, silver and hints of metallic – the rumoured colours of the new iPhones.

Apple usually begins selling its new iPhones on the Friday after they are introduced, so we can expect them to hit shelves on September 22.

How many iPhones will be introduced?

Four new iPhones are expected – the iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max – continuing on from last year's iPhone 14 line-up.

The base iPhone 15 and 15 Plus are to inherit the A16 Bionic chip used in the current iPhone 14 Pro models, while the high-end iPhone 15 Pro variants will move on to the new A17 Bionic.

The A17 Bionic has been reported to be considerably better than its predecessor, and is also the first three-nanometre chip that Apple will be using, a breakthrough that is expected to provide bump-ups in power, efficiency and other performance measures.

And it looks like Apple will be benefitting from 3nm chips ahead of everyone else, thanks to a sweetheart deal with the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the maker of Apple's chips.

Taiwan Semiconductor's new smaller and better chips are being made for Apple "roughly a year before it makes them for anyone else", The Information recently reported.

Record thin bezels and a more versatile side button

Design-wise, the next iPhones are expected to have even thinner bezels; Apple is reportedly using the same bezel-slimming technology it used for the Apple Watch to give the iPhone 15 bezels that clock in at a record 1.5mm.

There is also interest brewing above the volume buttons: a replica case purportedly for an iPhone 15 Pro has been shown to have a button in place of where the mute switch supposedly is.

It has also been rumoured that Apple is planning to replace the mute switch with a more versatile button, which can be configured according to a user’s preference, similar to some Android phones.

It is still unclear whether or not this button will perform only one or several tasks, depending on how you press it (short press, long press, hold, consecutive presses).

This Pro case in question also seems to have a bigger cut hole, suggesting the camera block in Apple’s next high-end devices is once again bigger.

The long-rumoured periscope lens

This had already been floated by Ming-Chi Kuo, known for leaking highly reliable news on Apple, in December 2021, and that it would come in the iPhone 14. That didn’t happen.

A periscope lens is used as a set-up that allows greater amounts of optical zoom. This uses the hardware to magnify an image in better quality without blurring, as opposed to digital zoom, which relies on software. A handful of smartphone manufacturers have introduced this technology in their devices.

In April, Mr Kuo reiterated this lens will be used exclusively on the iPhone 15 Pro Max, which would allow up to 6x optical zoom that does not blur, unlike digital zoom.

More recently, another leaker, who goes by the @URedditor handle on X (formerly Twitter), claims to have “independent confirmation” of this.

A 48MP camera for the base models

The base iPhone 15 models will still come with a dual-lens camera, while the Pro variants will have a triple-lens setup. But it seems Apple is poised to standardise a 48MP main sensor on the entire range, moving on from the long-standing 12MP sensor.

Apple made a major shift last year when it introduced a 48MP sensor on the iPhone 14 Pro, and using this on this year's entire line-up is a sign how serious Apple is to make its top-end photographic capabilities available to an even wider user base.

Will Apple finally ditch Lightning?

Apple has used its proprietary Lightning port and connector since the release of the iPhone 5 a decade ago. Talk of Apple switching it for a USB-C port has been around for some years and the company integrated it into the 2018 iPad Pro.

That all iPads are now using USB-C is a clear signal that Apple is willing to make a comprehensive switch.

Reports suggest the entry-level iPhone 15 and 15 Plus could use a USB-C port, while the Pro and Pro Max versions are likely to use Thunderbolt 3.

USB-C and Thunderbolt are physically the same, but the latter offers faster speeds. Inasmuch as it would render Lightning cables obsolete, it would also be beneficial for users who have Macs, iPads and other Apple devices that already use USB-C. It will also make life easier when searching for a much more common cable when needs be.

How much will they cost?

Base iPhone prices have not changed since 2020's iPhone 12 line-up. In fact, we can consider that they have not changed since the iPhone X in 2017, which was priced at $999. This has carried on to what we can consider its equivalents in subsequent years, which would be the iPhone XS, 11 Pro, 12 Pro, 13 Pro and 14 Pro.

From 2020, the entry-level iPhones – excluding the Minis in the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 – have all remained constant starring at $799, while the Pro Max versions have been maintained starting at $1,099. The Plus version, a new entry in the most recent iPhone 14 line-up, begins at $899.

This could all change in the iPhone 15, particularly for the Pro and Pro Max, the starting prices for these models could go up by $100 and to as much as $200, according to Taiwan-based DigiTimes.

Which means, the base iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max units could possibly set you back as much as $1,199 and $1,299, respectively.

Are there other devices to be launched?

Apple is expected to unveil Watch Series 9, which will most likely have token bump-ups before a rumoured major upgrade next year.

A new iteration of the AirPods is also expected, with arguably the biggest change is its switch to USB-C, much like what is expected in the next iPhones.

Apple does not comment on rumours or speculation and nothing is official until the products are revealed.

Updated: September 12, 2023, 2:53 PM