This year is due to be an iPhone super cycle and the stars are aligning for massive changes in a lot of ways. In this video we have exclusive renders, details on the new chip and what it means as well as what others have COMPLETELY wrong about the first ever ULTRA iPhone. Let’s GO!
Apple has, since the iPhone 6 typically spent 3 years with a design language before major updates. The iPhone 6, 6S and 7 lead to the full refresh at iPhone X, XS and XR and 11 and 11 Pro with the same round edges before the iPhone 12 brought the slab sides that followed for the iPhone 13 and 14 generations. This design style also features in the current iPad lineup too, starting with the Pro, then Air, mini and finally the 10th Gen iPad in October.
From the rumours flying around right now it looks like this generation will get new materials and design, but we’ll come to that after we talk performance and efficiency.
Apple is expected to launch the A17 in iPhone 15 Pro and Ultra, the new name for iPhone Pro Max if the leakers are to be believed. That A17 is almost certainly going to be built on TSMC’s 3nm process which started it’s mass production this week.
TSMC themselves have said that these chips will be up to 35% more efficient than their current 4&5 nm chips, though the last 4nm generation according to reports was more of a new generation 5nm in reality.
Apple typically increases performance by between 10 and 25% generation over generation, but the 35% efficiency improvement would be the result of taking the same chip design and simply shrinking it to the new process, with the gains being made by less energy needed to move electrons the shorter distances within the SOC.
Typically Apple uses these chip shrinks however to also add more transistors to the cores, neural engines and potentially extra unified memory too so the physical die stays about the same size and adds performance too.
On a slight tangent, if you hear others saying that the 3nm chips could come to M2 Pro, M2 Max and M2 Ultra, just beware – I think those are too close to release for that to be practical, and I think the M3 generation of chips most likely to be released around WWDC in June is the earliest we’re going to see 3nm in a Mac. But, back to iPhone 15.
And don’t worry, I’ll show you the renders pretty soon. They’re good.
Assuming Apple follows the same path as last year, the base iPhone 15 will likely get the A16 chip from the 2022 Pro models with the iPhone 15 Pro and Ultra models getting that new A17 3nm chip. Both will likely get the new look however.
The biggest beef everyone’s had about the iPhone in the past few years has been the rounded square for the cameras, along with the flat sides feeling a little sharp in the hand. Well, here’s the iPhone 15 Ultra.
The flat display remains along with slab sides, but then they fall away underneath the device, with a similar profile on the base to Apple’s MacBook Pro models, the new MacBook Air and even the classic iPhone 5C – which at the time was described by Jony Ive as Unapologetically Plastic. Plastic is far from the material here though, with the Pro and Ultra models reportedly getting titanium frames for the first time ever in an iPhone.
It’s certainly not Apple’s first time working with Titanium either, way back apple created the PowerBook, MacBook Pro’s predecessor in Titanium, though to make the finish look good it was actually painted. More recently, the Apple Watch Ultra is a titanium cased monster, though it comes in just the one colour – raw titanium.
Apple has been filing patents for new ways of colouring and finishing titanium though, and while titanium is certainly more expensive as a raw material than stainless steel by weight, titanium is also way stronger, so you don’t need to use as much to get the same level of durability, therefore its lighter to get the same result. All in all, raw material wise it adds an about a dollar to the materials cost of an iPhone.
Speaking of colour, that’s pretty much the only thing Apple may not have 100% nailed down yet (though, honestly, it’s probably already decided. So I asked Saad Ismail to render this in Pantone’s Colour of the Year for 2023, Viva Magenta. Apple’s never made their Pro iPhones in a Product [Red] option, but this is pretty close, has a little edge of pink and I love it.
That said, it will also dull tools faster while being machined, so there is additional cost in terms of production. Oh, and that curve we mentioned on the back, that’s where the other renders that Sam Kohl and ContentCreator went wrong I think. They put the curved surface onto the glass, which means you have a way more fragile device, whereas I think that curve will be in the band of titanium, with the glass inlayed and protected by the titanium itself to add to durability. As good as Ceramic Shield is, titanium is probably gonna take those impacts way better.
Of course that glass back is needed to allow MagSafe charging, as just like aluminium or steel, a titanium back would conduct away the induced voltage that should be going through to the iPhone’s coil.
And while this is the Pro iPhone, or the Ultra if you want a massive one, the base iPhone 15 will likely get a similar design update, but most likely keeping aluminium for the frame, a 2 camera setup and getting these nice comfortable curves.
All these hardware changes, along with most likely a camera improvement on the telephoto camera, maybe even getting that periscope lens for improved zoom may also be a great way to distract from the likely lack of new features in iOS 17, as Apple’s engineers seem pretty busy with following the EU’s ever evolving rules on third party App stores and their Digital Markets Act, but if you want to know my thoughts on that, I’m way ahead of you – click up here to find out why options aren’t always a good thing.