The new iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are official. And while these new models don’t feature a large number of updates, the several that it does include are major and should be welcome improvements for anyone out there using one of these devices in professional applications.
Faster data transfer with USB-C
Maybe the most exciting update to iPhone 15 Pro models for those who use the phone for professional photography or video work is the removal of the Lightning port for a USB-C connector.
Though it’s not the full-on Thunderbolt port that a lot of pros were hoping for, the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max do at least have a more capable USB-C port than what the non-Pro iPhone 15 models were given. The USB-C port on iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus are limited to USB 2 speeds of 480Mbps. That’s the same (very slow) speed that Lightning cables were already capable of.
Thankfully, on the Pro models, Apple has made the USB-C port capable of USB 3 speeds of up to 10Gbps. This will allow pros to offload 4K footage and RAW photos 20x faster to their laptops or desktop stations than was previous before. However, to achieve these transfer speeds, you’ll need a cable rated for USB 3 speeds…and the cable that Apple will ship with the iPhone 15 Pro models won’t cut it.
That cable will charge your iPhone just fine. But it’s only rated for USB 2 speeds. The safest bet is to buy a Thunderbolt cable. Thunderbolt is a data standard built atop the USB-C connector and present on all modern Macs. So, a Thunderbolt 4 cable has the USB-C connector you need and it is guaranteed to achieve 10Gbps speeds because it is engineered to achieve 4x that amount when used with Thunderbolt devices.
While Apple sells a 1.8m Thunderbolt cable for $129, dubbed “the Pro cable,” you can get a 2m cable here at OWC for just $57. And if you only need a shorter length, you can choose from a 0.8m cable for $22, a 0.7m cable for $24, or a 1m cable for $34. OWC Thunderbolt cables are Intel-certified and lab tested for 100 percent universal compatibility and performance for any USB-C connection including Thunderbolt 4, Thunderbolt 3, USB-C, and USB4.
But Thunderbolt cables aren’t just for data transfer. They’re also the safest way to charge your iPhone 15 Pro as well.
New Titanium design
Since the introduction of the iPhone X, Apple has been forming the enclosures of its top-of-the-line phones with stainless steel. With the iPhone 15 Pro, Apple has switched to Titanium, which the company says the the most premium material its ever used in an iPhone.
Apple says the titanium alloy used in making the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max is the same allow found in spacecraft due to its high ratio of strength to weight. In other words, it’s an extremely resilient material while remaining lightweight.
Apple says the titanium enclosures are formed though a new thermo-mechanical process that bonds titanium with 100 percent recycled aluminum to create the alloy. While the alloy has the strength of titanium it also benefits from the heat dissipation qualities of aluminum.
To finish the enclosure Apple gives the titanium a brushed texture before applying a color treatment of black, white, or blue. In addition to the three color finishes, Apple is also releasing an iPhone 15 Pro in natural titanium, showing off the raw color of the alloy.
Like the iPhone 15 models, the iPhone 15 Pro models feature a new contoured edge design. The design smooths out the flattened edges found on previous generations for a more seamless transition from the titanium enclosure to the display and back glass.
In these detail shots, you can see how the titanium enclosure wraps around the edges of the device before meeting the back glass. As a result of the new design, the iPhone 15 Pro features the thinnest screen bezels ever on an iPhone.
Also new on the iPhone 15 Pro models is the new Action Button. The button replaces the single-function mute switch from all previous iPhones with a customizable button. The button is activated with a press-and-hold gesture and acknowledges input with haptic feedback and visual cues from the Dynamic Island. Check it out in this quick clip:
Several different functions can be assigned to the button, including launching the camera or the flashlight; starting a new Voice Memo; or activating a Focus mode.
Apple has included a new 48MP sensor in the iPhone 15 Pro models that it says is larger than the one found on the iPhone 14 Pro models. The new quad-pixel sensor is at the heart of a camera group built-specifically for the iPhones Pro and delivers 48MP super-high-resolution images.
Apple has also developed a new default shooting mode that uses the 48MP sensor to create 24MP images that include the level of detail of a 48MP photo at half the file size.
Exclusive to the Pro models is the ability to choose between three popular focal length equivalents among professional and hobby photographers: 24mm, 28mm, and 35mm. Because this is just sensor cropping, you’ve always been able to zoom the main camera manually to achieve these focal length equivalents. But thanks to the larger sensor, the results are better than ever and Apple is making the process easier by having these popular focal lengths appear with a tap of the 1x button in the camera app. You can even set one of these focal lengths as your preferred default.
Of note: the iPhone 15 Pro models also get the new-and-improved portrait functionality found on iPhone 15. Apple says portraits taken with iPhone 15 Pro are now sharper and feature more vivid colors. Performance in low light has improved as well.
Plus, you can now take portraits without having to switch the camera app into Portrait mode. The updated camera app will automatically recognize, people, dogs, or cats when they enter the frame or when you tap to focus. After you’ve taken the shot, you can go into the Photos app and you’ll be able to convert images taken outside of Portrait mode using the automatically captured depth data.
This also means that you can shift focus after a photo is taken as well. During the keynote, Apple showed a demo of a photo being edited in the Photos app. Shifting focus is as easy as tapping a different subject in the image.
Professional USB-C workflows
As we mentioned before, the addition of the USB-C port means you’ll be able to grab a Thunderbolt cable and transfer photos and video off your iPhone at a rate 20x faster than before. This has enabled new workflows for professionals using iPhone 15 Pro.
Instant transfer to Capture One on Mac
First off, the new Pro models will allow photographers to connect their iPhone 15 Pro or Pro Max directly to a Mac running the Capture One photography. Once connected they’ll be able to shoot and instantly transfer 48MP ProRAW images to the Mac.
Record ProRes video directly to external storage
For video professionals, the iPhone 15 Pro models will also support recording ProRes video directly to external storage. Apple says this will enable higher recording options of up to 4K/60 fps and greater on-set flexibility when using an iPhone as a main camera.
The iPhone 15 Pro will also feature a new option for Log encoding and is the first smartphone to support the Academy Color Encoding System (ACES), which is a global standard for color workflows.
Max out at 5x zoom
While the iPhone 15 Pro has a 12MP 3x telephoto lens like the previous models, Apple said it used the larger amount of space in the iPhone 15 Pro to include a new 5x zoom for the first time.
The 5x zoom features a tetraprism design combined with optical image stabilization and autofocus to allow for sharp photos from further away than ever before. The 5x zoom has a equivalent focal length of 120mm, has 100 percent focus pixels and an f2.8 aperture.
Beefy performance gains with A17 Pro
Rounding out the improvements to iPhone 15 Pro is the new A17 Pro system-on-a-chip (SOC).
The A17 Pro is the first 3-nanometer chip and the fastest chip ever developed for a smartphone with performance that can challenge that of many desktop computers. In addition to a 10-percent faster CPU, and a Neural Engine that is 2x faster than before, APple says the A17 Pro represents the biggest GPU redesign in the company’s history.
Ray-tracing and console-level games…on an iPhone
The new GPU on A17 Pro boasts 6 cores, translating to 20% faster performance—and gaming experiences that were simply not possible before.
The A17 Pro makes hardware-acclerated ray tracing possible on iPhone 15 Pro allowing for video game titles that were previously only available on consoles and PC to be brought to iPhone for the first time.
During the keynote, Apple said Capcom’s Resident Evil Village and Resident Evil 4; Sony Interactive’s Death Stranding; and Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Mirage are coming to iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. The Resident Evil games and Death Stranding will launch on the 15 Pro models later this year, while Assassin’s Creed: Mirage will launch in 2024.
New AV1 video encoder
Apple says A17 Pro also includes a dedicated AV1 decoder, enabling more efficient, high-quality video streaming.