Apple announced incremental updates for the Apple Watch line-up, significant changes under the hood for the iPhone Pro models, and camera updates for the regular iPhones.
Apple’s annual September iPhone event gave us the usual smattering of new iPhones, Apple Watches and some newish AirPods (added USB Type-C ports). Interestingly, this year just about all the rumored updates turned out to be true. Yes, the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus now get the ‘Dynamic Island’. Yes, the Pro Max model gets a periscope lens. And yes, both the Pro and Pro Max models get titanium shells. But beyond the obvious, there’s a whole lot more to unpack here.
Apple event 2023 highlights
iPhone 15 and 15 Plus
The big news here is the Dynamic Island, and the addition of the USB Type-C port. That aside, the new iPhones look identical to the ones from last year. They are the same size as before as well. But there are other improvements that are indeed noteworthy. The display, for one, is an OLED Super Retina unit with a peak brightness of 2000 nits, double that of the iPhone 14. That means the iPhone 15 should be a treat to use in even bright sunlight.
There are camera improvements. The biggest one is a 48-megapixel main camera, with a 12-megapixel ultrawide that can also moonlight as a telephoto. Additionally, the new portrait mode now allows you to switch to a portrait after the image has been taken. The selfie camera also gets updates and now has portrait lighting and autofocus.
Powering all this is the A16 processor seen in the 14 Pro and Pro Max models from last year. As expected, Apple continues to claim all-day battery life on the non-Pro 15 models.
The Pro Models
The Titanium does help to differentiate this year’s Pro Models from last year’s units (and also makes them lighter). But apart from that, there isn’t much that will stand out from a distance. Step a little closer, and you will see the omission of the alert slider (a regular since the very first iPhone) in favour of a customizable ‘Action button’, like the one on the Apple Watch Ultra.
Screen sizes are 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch for the Pro and Pro Max models, much like the regular and Plus models. Unlike the regular models, the Pro and Pro Max get the A17 Pro chip which is built on a new 3nm process (a first for a smartphone). Apple believes there’s enough and more power for the A17 Pro to take on desktop CPUs. As a result, Apple is claiming that the Pro and Pro Max are smartphones that can take on PC-like gaming without breaking a sweat. Game developers have already been working closely with Apple and games like Resident Evil Village, Resident Evil 4, Death Stranding, and Assassin’s Creed Mirage are coming soon to the iPhone.
A periscope lens, new main camera and more
The USB Type-C port can also be used for high-speed data transfer (10Gbps) on the Pro and Pro Max. The added transfer speed will definitely come in handy when you do use it to move the videos and photos that you’d be taking using the updated cameras. They include an upgraded 48-megapixel camera which Apple claims takes better low-light photos, and can take full-res HEIF photos. Interestingly you can now change the focal length of your main lens to 24mm, 28mm or 35mm to make it easier to find the plane separation that works for you. There is also up to 5x optical zoom, the most Apple has ever offered. But the new periscope lens that enables the 5x optical zoom is only restricted to the Pro Max.
On the video side, you can shoot 4K60 ProRes video or even record directly to an external drive through the USB-C port. Tilt your Pro phone to the side and you can capture spatial video using the main and ultrawide camera, for it to ultimately be experienced on the Vision Pro headset. Some of the Pro features on the new iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max are clearly meant for professionals and the addition of USB Type-C only seems to have opened the gates for iPhones to be used more regularly as professional tools.
Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2
Apple’s smartwatches didn’t receive as substantial an update as the smartphones did. Both the Ultra 2 and Series 9 get an updated chip in the form of Apple’s new S9 SiP, which has a four-core neural engine, as well as a second-gen ultra-wideband location chip. This helps add two new functionalities – on-device Siri processing and more precise location tracking. A new gesture that involves double tapping your index finger with your thumb has been added to both smartwatches. You can use it as the primary button in different apps. For instance, you can send and receive calls with the gesture.
Apple says the display on the Series 9 can get as bright as 2000 nits, which is double what you could get from the Series 8. The display on the Ultra 2 also gets an upgrade and is now 50 per cent brighter than last year’s model. Finally, the new watch face for the Ultra will employ the outer edge of the display to present real-time information like altitude or depth.
Apple’s presentation devoted a large chunk of time to the brand’s environmental goals. Apple aims to be entirely carbon-neutral by 2030 and it claims that the Apple Watch is its first product to be carbon-neutral with a number of recycled materials used in its construction.
Pricing and availability
Pricing has stayed the same as last year for everything but the iPhone 15 Pro Max. So, the iPhone 15 starts at Rs. 79,900, the iPhone 15 Plus starts at Rs. 89,900, the iPhone 15 Pro stays at Rs. 1,34,900 while the iPhone 15 Pro Max will start at Rs. 1,59,900. The Apple Watch Series 9 starts at Rs. 41,900 while the Watch Ultra 2 starts at Rs. 89,900.
Apple’s new iPhones will be available to pre-order on September 15th, with store availability from the 22nd. This is important to note as this is the first time Apple’s newest launches in India are available to buy right after launch with no delay. Additionally, India-made iPhones will be available to purchase from day one as Apple continues to ramp up production in India.
(Hero and Featured Image Credits: Courtesy Apple)