With the company transitioning to USB-C, committing to bold environmental goals, and even finally embracing Right to Repair, this is officially a new era for Apple and I’m absolutely loving it… but first, let’s just acknowledge the star of this year’s keynote – the Apple iPhone 15.
Each Apple Keynote is a combination of two things – some recurring moments that give us a sense of familiarity, like Tim Cook saying “Good Morning!” or watching a montage of people who’ve had life-saving experiences with Apple products… and some moments that are starkly different, reminding us of everything Apple did new this year, like the short film with Octavia Spencer as Mother Nature, and Apple’s wholehearted pivot to USB-C, tinted glass, and a titanium chassis for the 15 Pro. This year saw a hearty blend of both kinds of moments, and just like every year, this year’s iPhone 15 and 15 Pro series holds a lot of promise.
The iPhone 15 has a new 48MP main camera (upgrading from last year’s 24MP shooter), a screen with 2000 nits of peak brightness, the iconic Dynamic Island, a next-gen Ultra Wide Band chip that also helps you find friends (instead of just your Apple products), an Action Button instead of the mute slider, and Roadside Assistance via satellite… all powered by the powerful A16 Bionic Chip. The iPhone 15 now also sports a tinted glass back that’s colored on a molecular level for a distinctly pastel appeal, and a USB-C port at the bottom, marking the official death of the Lightning Port.
The iPhone 15 Pro on the other hand now boasts of a stunning Grade 5 titanium design that’s stronger yet lighter than steel. The USB-C port runs the USB3 protocol that’s powered by a dedicated section of the A17 Pro Bionic chip, enabling rapid transfer of data across devices and onto external storage. The 15 Pro also has the Dynamic Island, understandably, and the Action Button over the Mute Slider. The built-in A17 Bionic Chip is measurably more powerful and efficient than its predecessor, now with new hardware ray-tracing features that make games MUCH better on the 15 Pro. Given its Pro status, the phone comes with even better cameras than last year, featuring a Macro mode, super high-resolution photos (now with the ability to change your resolution natively within the camera app, and a stunning 5x Telephoto Optical Zoom on the Pro Max, thanks to a new ‘textured prism’ design that bounces light multiple times before it hits the sensor. A combination of two lenses on the 15 Pro also allows you to shoot Spatial Videos, making the new Pro iPhone the ONLY device capable of creating 3D content for the Vision Pro.
The undertone of this entire event, however, was about all the changes that Apple’s making to its products and operations. The USB-C is just a small part of it, but even if you look at the invite, the Apple Logo is made from titanium particles, hinting at a shift in material. Along with the USB-C on the iPhone 15 and 15 Pro series, Apple’s even upgrading the AirPods Pro 2nd Gen to USB-C as well as adding USB-C to the EarPods for people who still believe in wired music. The new protocol now allows you to charge your gadgets through the iPhone by simply connecting them via cable (so you don’t need to unhook your MagSafe wallet to wirelessly charge your AirPods). This effectively leaves simply the AirPods and the AirPods Max as the only personal gadgets with the Lightning Port, although chances are they’ll get refreshed pretty soon too. Apple is finally aboard the USB-C train… but just like we speculated, only the Pro models get Thunderbolt-like features with 10Gb/s data transfer speeds.
In a rather surprising move, Apple’s also overwhelmingly ‘canceled’ leather. In a bid to lower its global impact, the company’s made many drastic steps like recycling materials, reducing plastic within packaging, cutting e-waste, shifting to carbon-neutral operations, opted for sea-based logistics rather than air-cargo, and even planting millions of trees to reforest major parts of the earth. Apple’s latest step is to entirely eliminate leather from their annual line-up of devices and accessories. To replace leather, the company’s introduced FineWoven, a wonderful tightly woven fabric that’s just as luxurious to the touch as suede, while being animal-free. The FineWoven fabric can be found on Apple’s iPhone 15 and 15 Pro cases, as well as their new Watch straps (including even this year’s Hermes straps). The AirTag holder and MagSafe wallet get FineWoven alternatives too.
The Wonderlust event had one big takeaway – that Apple’s committed to making the best products in the best ways possible. No more fighting governments and unions to defend separate charging ports and standards, no more creating an e-waste pandemic caused by the high demands of their gadgets, no more vociferously opposing Right to Repair legislation, and in the words of Tim Cook, ensuring that “by 2030, all Apple devices will have a net-zero climate impact.” It’s pretty much a new era at Apple, as the company looks at its legacy with equal intensity as its growth. Changing to USB-C is a small step in that direction, but it marks a seismic shift in Apple’s vision of being a company that delights both its users as well as the planet.