The iPhone 14 hasn’t even made an appearance yet, and we’re already hearing reports on what to expect from next year’s so-called “iPhone 15.”
Since Apple’s 2023 iPhone plans likely haven’t even been finalized yet, most of these rumors should be taken with a huge dose of skepticism — but there are enough interesting bits and pieces to give us an idea of the direction Apple is likely headed in.
Goodbye Lightning, hello USB-C
The most fascinating report comes from well-known supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who predicts that 2023 could be the year we finally see a USB-C iPhone.
It’s very preliminary information, but Kuo has found many of Apple’s suppliers are preparing to order a lot more USB-C chips and port components — too many to be accounted for by Apple’s current USB-C product lineup.
While it’s still likely that Apple’s endgame is to ditch the ports altogether and rely on its MagSafe technology instead, the European Union (EU) is expected to force Apple’s hand before the world is ready for a fully wireless iPhone.
Apple’s 5G modem chip
Apple has been working on its own 5G modem chip for a few years, and many experts expected it to be here now. Unfortunately for Apple, making 5G modems is hard. Over the past few months, Apple has been talking to key chip suppliers to package its first 5G modem chips.
It’s too early to say what tangible benefits Apple’s own 5G modem chip will offer over the Qualcomm Snapdragon X60 chips that Apple currently uses. At the very least, it’s likely to save Apple a ton of money, which will allow the company to add other improvements. This year’s iPhone 14 is expected to get a bump up to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X65, but if the reports are accurate, we’ll never see the recently announced Snapdragon X70 in an iPhone.
Another rumor that’s been making the rounds for a while claims that Apple is at work on new periscope lens technology. More recently, some pretty reliable analysts have put a firmer 2023 timeline on the new camera technology.
Periscope lenses have appeared in Android smartphones for years, so Apple is a bit late to the game here. However, this would allow the iPhone to finally break beyond the 3X zoom barrier, making far better use of the 48 megapixel (MP) primary camera expected to come to the iPhone 14 this year.
It’s almost certain that Apple will be retiring the beleaguered 5.4-inch iPhone mini with the iPhone 14 this year, replacing it with a 6.7-inch “iPhone 14 Max” instead. Since Apple rarely makes significant changes to its lineup for only a single year, that’s also expected to be the lineup for 2023.
That means a pair of 6.1-inch iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro models accompanied by 6.7-inch iPhone 15 Max and iPhone 15 Pro Max phones. We’re not sure Apple will use the “Max” designation for the standard iPhone model, but the iPhone 15 version will adopt whatever name Apple calls the 6.7-inch standard iPhone 14 this year.
Although Apple is widely expected to eliminate the notch this year, that’s likely only to happen on the iPhone 14 Pro models, which will move to a pill-shaped cutout while the standard iPhone 14 retains the notch. Next year’s iPhone 15 will see the notch eliminated across the entire lineup.
There’s a slight possibility the iPhone 15 Pro could eliminate the front-screen cutouts entirely by shifting to in-display Face ID, but most reliable reports suggest that won’t happen until 2024.
What else is coming?
With over a year to go before the iPhone 15 sees the light of day, we’re likely to hear a lot more as we get closer to 2023. Apple normally finalizes its designs about 10 months before the release of a new iPhone and locks them down for final production around January. So, by early 2023, we should be getting a much better idea of what the iPhone 15 will look like, but for now it’s important to keep in mind that even Apple likely hasn’t yet made its final decision on the 2023 design.