03/12 Update below. This post was originally published on March 9
Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro models are faster, more complex and more expensive. The price increase is likely to push more buyers to the standard iPhone 15 models, but they are in for a shock.
According to a new leak from (historically reliable) insider yeux1122, Apple is bucking industry trends and once again making its ProMotion 120Hz display exclusive to the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. This would be the third year in a row that Apple has limited high refresh rate (HRR) panels to its most expensive iPhones, and it’s increasingly unjustified.
The value of a high refresh rate display is that by refreshing up to twice as often as a standard 60Hz panel, animations become smoother, resulting in a smoother experience. It can also make touch input feel more sensitive, even though the touch sample rate is not changed.
Additionally, high refresh rates have quickly become commonplace, with Samsung’s $299 Galaxy M33 and RealMe’s $199 Narzo 50 even bringing 120Hz displays to the budget sector. So why does Apple continue to limit 120Hz ProMotion displays to $1,000 iPhones? It comes down to two factors: implementation and marketing.
In terms of implementation, Apple only uses LTPO panels in ProMotion. That’s because running at 120Hz quickly drains battery life on standard displays that cheaper 120Hz phones use. In contrast, LTPO panels offer a variable refresh rate that can drop as low as 1Hz when the display is static to reduce battery drain.
Does this mean all cheap 120hz phones have terrible battery life? No. Some can only accommodate larger batteries, but Apple prefers its first-class implementation. Apple also only offers its always-on display on iPhones with LTPO panels, so the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus models look set to lose this basic feature again for another year.
As for marketing, that’s a problem of Apple’s own making. Currently, ProMotion is only used in Pro products: Macbook Pro, iPad Pro and iPhone Pro. So anything short of rebranding ProMotion might just confuse buyers and confuse the company’s carefully defined product lines. I suspect Apple understands this problem, since it hasn’t branded any technology as “Pro” since ProMotion first launched in 2017.
None of that helps iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus buyers who just want the high refresh rate they see in competitors at a much cheaper price. We now know that won’t change for at least a year, although the introduction of an updated design, a locked version of USB-C and some crazy new colors is comforting.
On the other hand, if you want to pay for everything the iPhone 15 Pro models have to offer, you’ll have to pay more — a lot more.
03/11 update – yeux1122 has sent more details on Apple’s iPhone plans, which reveal that the company will debut under-display Touch ID within two to three years.
Yeux1122 says the new system combines short-wave infrared and optical systems, and the company has already acquired 12 related patents. What’s more, this is unlike any fingerprint reading technology we’ve experienced before:
“What sets it apart from existing fingerprint recognition sensors and solutions is that it is possible to recognize the user’s vein pattern,” says yeux1122. “The user’s blood oxygen saturation and pulse can be measured. It also shows (a) fast situation recognition speed by determining whether the user is wearing gloves and whether the user’s fingers are wet or dry.
If correct, these would be significant advances that would revolutionize the way fingerprint readers are used in smartphones, far beyond today’s biometric security implementations.
Such an innovation would also give Apple a clear reason to return to the technology (which, according to yeux1122, would be used with Face ID), and together with the Apple Watch, this could be a game-changing breakthrough.
03/12 Update – Anyone looking to use their current iPhone 14 Pro or Pro Max case with the iPhone 15 Pro or Pro Max will be disappointed. Macotakara has reached a set of 3D printed dummy units for the entire iPhone 15 series, with only the iPhone 15 Plus being backwards compatible with older cases.
This is a surprise given the virtually identical dimensions of the new models, as highlighted by previously leaked dimensions iPhone 15 Pro Max and Plus below:
- iPhone 15 Plus – 160.87 x 77.76 x 7.81 mm
- iPhone 14 Plus – 160.84 x 78.07 x 7.79 mm
- iPhone 15 Pro Max – 159.86 x 76.73 x 8.25 mm
- iPhone 14 Pro Max – 160.7 x 77.6 x 7.85 mm
According to the video, just 1 mm increase in the length of the standard iPhone 15 distorts the iPhone 14 cases. Interestingly, while the 1mm reduction in length and width of the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max models means they fit older cases, new solid state volume controls and mute button do not aim for cuts.
Macotakara has experience in successfully acquiring iPhone doll models. For example, last year their iPhone 14 dummy units pointed out that the Pro models couldn’t fit in the older cases due to their enlarged rear cameras – which was proven correct months later.
Historically, Apple has provided molds and schematics of its upcoming iPhones to accessory manufacturers well in advance of when third-party cases are available when the phones are released. This explains why leaked measurements and mock models tend to be consistently accurate between March and April.
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