03/05 Update below. This post was originally published on March 02
Apple’s new iPhone 15 models are getting rounder, faster, and more expensive, according to the latest leaks. But their most requested feature now looks set to come with a nasty surprise.
Respected Apple insider ShrimpApplePro has confirmed leaks last month that Apple will lock down the USB-C port on all iPhone 15 models. The leaker states that “Yeah usb-c with MFI is happening” and “Cables w no MFI will be software limited in data and charging speed.”
This will stun Apple fans and industry observers because 1) USB-C is supposed to be an open standard, and 2) Apple introduced USB-C to iPads and MacBooks without any restrictions.
For those unaware of MFi, it stands for ‘Made For iPhone/iPod/iPad” and is Apple’s official licensing program for accessories for those devices. Royalties associated with MFi certification are not made public but were previously reported to cost as much as $4 per connector. This is why MFi-licensed accessories cost significantly more than their unlicensed counterparts.
Apple keeps manufacturers in line by installing an authenticator chip on ports, which can even limit or disable the accessories completely. A pop-up notification also warns owners that an unlicensed accessory is connected.
Apple argues that MFi protects devices, which has some merit, though the profit the program generates is widely seen as the primary reason iPhones failed to move to USB-C. Following an EU clampdown on proprietary ports, the expectation was Apple would open up iPhones, but it now appears that the company has decided to manipulate the standard.
This will be a blow given USB-C opens the door for iPhones to introduce much faster charging and data speeds, and leaks claim iPhone 15 Pro models will deliver over 40x faster performance. But now, seemingly only via MFi-approved accessories. Not the most environmentally friendly option for anyone who already has a drawer full of USB-C cables.
ShrimpApplePro states that Foxconn has already begun mass production of MFI-licensed accessories, including Apple’s own EarPods and cables. While iPhone fans are unlikely to consider this news a dealbreaker, I doubt it is how industry observers and EU lawmakers expected USB-C to be implemented by the world’s biggest smartphone maker.
Apple’s iPhone 15 range is expected to launch in September with a more rounded design
new chassis materials and colors, solid-state buttons, next-gen WiFi and a 3nm A17 chipset. But also noticeably higher prices.
03/04 Update: the expectation is building around the next-gen A17 chipset, exclusive to the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. The A17 will be Apple’s first 3nm chipset and the first consumer-focused 3nm chip ever released, with only Samsung’s crypto-centric ‘Gate-All-Around’ chips beating it to market.
Now, DigiTimes reports that Apple partner “TSMC’s N3E (3nm enhanced) technology will enable significant specification upgrades in the upcoming iPhone series, the sources said. Suppliers involved in the iPhone supply chain anticipate replacement demand for the 2023 models.”
Chipsets alone don’t often drive customer demand, with flashier upgrades like external design changes and camera upgrades catching customers’ attention. That said, suppliers may be right here if 3nm can live up to some of the bigger claims about its benefits.
Notably, 3nm is said to be 35% more power efficient than the 5nm ‘N4’ fabrication process used to make the A16 chips inside the iPhone 14 Pro models, as well as delivering higher performance. Moreover, Apple is understood to have procured all orders for TSMC’s first-gen 3nm technology, so rivals may be waiting some time to catch up. Watch this space.
03/05 Update: iPhone 15 details continue to leak. Today, leakers ShrimpApplePro and Unknownz21 endorsed a pair of leaked videos showing the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max front glass panels (left and middle in the video below) compared to the iPhone 14 Pro (right).
This is the first time a video has leaked showing allegedly real iPhone 15 Pro components, and there are two main differences compared to their predecessor. First, they show that Pro models will indeed sport a curvier new design this year.
Second, the bezels are noticeably thinner than any iPhone Apple has released before. Slimming down bezels always improved the look of a phone, but previously leaked dimensions for the iPhone 15 Pro Max also suggest they will make the phone slightly shorter and narrower than the iPhone 14 Pro Max. Though the differences will likely be missed by most:
- iPhone 15 Pro Max – 159.86 × 76.73 × 8.25 mm
- iPhone 14 Pro Max – 160.7 x 77.6 x 7.85 mm
This bezel reduction is expected to be a Pro-exclusive, with iPhone 15 models taking their styling tips from the iPhone 14 Pro line-up, complete with a pill-shaped cutout and Dynamic Island UI.
At this stage in the iPhone’s evolution, improvements are increasingly incremental. That said, the new designs do appear to strike a nice balance between the hard edges of the iPhone 4-5 and iPhone 12-14 versus the heavily rounded first iPhones, something that was reintroduced for the iPhone 6-8 with Apple historically flip-flopping between extremes.