We could see the iPhone 15, Apple Watch Series 9, Apple Watch Ultra 2 and, maybe, an iPhone 15 Ultra.
In another sign that fall is just around the corner, Apple sent out invites for an event that's set to take place at the Steve Jobs Theater on Tuesday, Sept. 12, where we expect to see the next iPhone and Apple Watches announced. The annual fall iPhone event has become a cultural touch point heralding the end of summer, right up there with pumpkin spice.
For months, a seemingly endless flow of iPhone 15 rumors have circulated online. Some hint at a rather straightforward round of year-over-year upgrades, while others point to the possibility of a rebranded larger Pro model called the iPhone 15 Ultra. Let's break down everything you can expect from Apple's fall event.
Wanderlust or wonderlust?
The event's invite is characteristically enigmatic, showing an Apple logo made up of tiny dustlike particles. The logo has grooves carved out of it, a bit like the forms you see on windswept sand dunes.
The tagline, "Wonderlust," is of course a play on the word wanderlust, which means a strong longing for or impulse toward wandering. Does wonderlust mean a strong longing for or impulse toward wondering? Like everyone else, we're trying to read something into the invite and wondering what it has to do with Apple's upcoming announcements. Could the grooved cutouts in the logo refer to a less boxy iPhone design? Could the particles refer to improved cameras capable of capturing more detail? Could the colors -- metallic shades of gray, blue and even gold -- be a reference to the colors of the new iPhone or Apple Watch?
Or is this all just Apple acknowledging the fleeting nature of existence? No idea. But I expect the iPhone 15 Pro will be the headliner.
The iPhone 15 and 15 Plus
As in the iPhone 14 series, there will likely be four models in the new iPhone lineup: the iPhone 15, 15 Plus, 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max. According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, who has a solid record when covering Apple leaks, the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus will basically be a repackaged iPhone 14 Pro without the telephoto camera or stainless steel body.
The new phones would inherit a 48-megapixel main camera and the A16 chip from the 14 Pros. On the outside, the two phones will trade their display notches for the Dynamic Island cutout that also debuted on the 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max.
Despite the addition of the Dynamic Island, don't expect any other changes to the screen. Display analyst Ross Young said in a September 2022 post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that he isn't expecting base iPhone 15 models to get a high refresh rate like Apple's Pro iPhones.
And according to a May report by ChargerLab, a battery and charging specialist website with a steady track record for rumors, all four iPhone 15 models will support 15-watt wireless charging using the Qi2 open standard announced earlier this year. If this turns out to be true, it could mean the iPhone 15 would open up a whole new world of wireless charging devices that don't necessarily need to be licensed Apple MagSafe accessories.
Apple Announces 'Wonderlust' Event for Sept. 12
iPhone 15: Latest Apple Rumors
Apple Watch Series 9: What the Rumors Say
But the biggest change expected for all four iPhones will be the shift away from the Lightning connector. Likely driven by pressure from the European Union, which passed legislation adopting USB-C as a common charging standard, the iPhone 15 series will have a USB-C port instead of a Lighting port. The last time Apple switched the iPhone's power port was in 2012, when it debuted the Lighting port on the iPhone 5, which spelled the end of the wide 30-pin iPod connector that was previously used.
It's a bit hazy how exactly Apple will handle this, like whether USB-C will be on all new iPhones globally or just in the EU. But it's highly likely that all new iPhone models will be sold with a USB-C port for the foreseeable future.
The iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max
Of everything Apple's expected to announce, the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max could have the biggest changes. According to Bloomberg's Gurman, stainless steel is gone, and instead the Pro model's frame will be made from titanium. The shift in materials could help reduce the overall weight of each phone, which is hefty even without a case.
The iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max will likely get a new chip called A17 that features a supertiny, 3-nanometer processor, Apple's smallest silicon to date. Around the front, the two phones will likely have thinner display bezels.
The Pro models' biggest change will be the USB-C port, which in a break from the regular 15 and 15 Plus could support faster data speeds for things like transferring files and ProRes video files.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max may get a new 6x optical telephoto camera. Ming-Chi Kuo, a noted Apple analyst with TF International Securities, predicts the iPhone 15 Pro Max will have a horizontal mounted periscope lens and camera unit inside the phone's body, similar to ones in the Pixel 7 Pro, Galaxy S23 Ultra and Sony Xperia 1 V.
Doubling the native optical zoom from 3x to 6x should enable you to capture zoomed-in photos with better detail, resolution and dynamic range compared with the 6x digital zoom on a current iPhone 14 Pro.
Kuo's report also hints at both Pro models having solid-state volume and power buttons, which would further differentiate them from the regular 15 and 15 Plus. The buttons wouldn't be mechanical and would be more akin to the touch sensitive area that debuted on the iPhone 7 and acts like a "home button" thanks to some clever haptic feedback. Back in 2018, the HTC U12 had solid-state buttons instead of mechanical ones; however, the experience using them wasn't great.
There are a couple of rumors that have been circulating despite being a bit dated or unlikely. The first is that the iPhone 15 Pro Max may be rebranded as the iPhone 15 Ultra. Bloomberg's Gurman mentioned the possibility nearly a year ago, but that should be taken with a grain of salt since more recently Gurman hasn't brought it up.
Another up-in-the-air rumor comes by the way of MacRumors, which found code in a beta version of iOS 17 that describes functionality for an action button like the one on the Apple Watch Ultra. Such a hardware addition would be a first for Apple, and the iPhone's action button would be for more-phone-oriented tasks like shortcuts or triggering the camera shutter. We'll have to wait until the 12th to find out.
Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2
In a less ambitious update, it seems the next regular Apple Watch will likely be a relatively modest year-over-year iteration of the Apple Watch Series 8. The Series 9 could come in a new color. As reported by MacRumors, based on a post by X/Twitter user ShrimpApplePro, the Apple Watch Series 9 might come in a new pink color.
The Series 9 will likely be powered by a new S9 chip, which Bloomberg's Gurman, posting to his Power On Discord channel back in May, described as bringing improvements to performance and efficiency. That's another way of saying the battery life might be better.
The Apple Watch Ultra could see a second-generation version. The rugged watch debuted last year, and a new version could bring a faster chip and come in a black titanium finish, according to an X/Twitter post by ShrimpApplePro. A black version of the Ultra could look amazing!
All right, let's talk about everything else.
Potpourri and wrap-up
The AirPods case could see a new version with a USB-C connector. iOS 17 and WatchOS 10 will likely get an official release date. And I can't imagine that Apple would pass up a chance to update everyone on its Vision Pro headset that was announced in June at WWDC.
Obviously, until Tim Cook and crew walk onto that stage in the Steve Jobs Theater and make their announcements, we won't know anything for certain.