New Apple Exclusive Unveils iPhone 15 Design Shock

03/12 Update below. This post was originally published on March 9

Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro models will be faster, curvier and more expensive. The price hike is likely to push more buyers to the standard iPhone 15 models, but they’re in for a shock.

According to a new leak from (historically reliable) insider yeux1122, Apple will break with industry trends and make its ProMotion 120Hz displays, iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max exclusive once again. This would be the third consecutive year that Apple has limited high refresh rate (HRR) panels to its most expensive iPhones, and it’s increasingly unfair.

The value of a high refresh rate screen 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 more responsive, despite no changes to the touch sampling rate.

Plus, high refresh rates have quickly gone mainstream, with Samsung’s $299 Galaxy M33 and RealMe’s $199 Narzo 50 bringing even 120Hz displays to the budget sector. So why does Apple continue to limit its 120Hz ‘ProMotion’ displays to $1,000 iPhones? It boils down to two factors: implementation and marketing.

In terms of implementation, Apple only uses LTPO panels for ProMotion. This is because operating at 120 Hz quickly reduces battery life on standard screens, which cheaper 120 Hz phones use. LTPO panels, on the other hand, offer a variable refresh rate, which can drop to as little as 1 Hz when the screen is static, to reduce battery consumption.

Does this mean that all cheap 120Hz phones have terrible battery life? No. Some will just fit larger batteries, but Apple prefers the premium implementation. Apple also only offers its always-on display on iPhones with LTPO panels, so iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus models appear to be missing this basic feature for another year.

As for marketing, it’s a problem Apple created itself. Currently, ProMotion is only used for Pro branded products: Macbook Pro, iPad Pro, and iPhone Pro. So anything short of a ProMotion rebrand is likely to just confuse buyers and confuse the company’s carefully defined product lines. I suspect Apple understands this issue, as it hasn’t labeled any technology as “Pro-” since ProMotion first launched in 2017.

Nothing helps iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus buyers, who just want the high refresh rates they see on competing phones, at much lower prices. We now know that won’t change for at least another year, though the introduction of an updated design, a locked down version of USB-C and some crazy new colors will provide some consolation.

On the other hand, if you want to pay for everything the iPhone 15 Pro models offer, you’ll have to pay more – a lot more.

Update 03/11 — yeux1122 has Posted learn more about Apple’s iPhone plans, which reveal that the company will introduce under-display Touch ID within two to three years.

Yeux1122 says the new system combines shortwave infrared and optical systems, and the company has already obtained 12 related patents. Plus, this is unlike any other fingerprint reading technology we’ve experienced before:

“What is different from existing sensors and fingerprint recognition solutions is that it is possible to identify the vein pattern of the user,” says yeux1122. “It is possible to measure the oxygen saturation in the blood and the heart rate of the user. It turns out [a] rapid situational recognition by determining whether the user is wearing gloves and whether the user’s fingers are wet or dry.

If correct, these would be major advancements that would change the way fingerprint readers are used on smartphones and go far beyond the biometric-only security implementations we see today.

Such an innovation would also give Apple a clear reason to return to the technology (which yeux1122 says would be used in conjunction with Face ID), and paired with an Apple Watch could be a game-changing breakthrough.

Update 03/12 – anyone looking to use their existing iPhone 14 Pro or Pro Max case with an iPhone 15 Pro or Pro Max will be disappointed. Macotakara has reached a set of 3D printed dummy units for the entire iPhone 15 range, and only the iPhone 15 Plus will be backward compatible with older cases.

This is quite a surprise given the nearly identical dimensions of the new models, as highlighted by previously leaked dimensions of the iPhone 15 Pro Max and Plus below:

  • iPhone 15 Plus — 160.87 x 77.76 x 7.81mm
  • iPhone 14 Plus — 160.84 x 78.07 x 7.79mm
  • iPhone 15 Pro Max — 159.86 × 76.73 × 8.25mm
  • iPhone 14 Pro Max — 160.7 x 77.6 x 7.85mm

According to the video, just a 1mm increase in the length of the standard iPhone 15 deforms iPhone 14 cases. Interestingly, while the 1mm reduction in length and width of iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max models means they will fit older cases, their new solid-state volume controls and mute button do not align with recesses.

Macotakara has a track record of successfully sourcing iPhone dummy models. For example, last year their iPhone 14 dummy units stressed that Pro models wouldn’t fit in older cases due to their enlarged rear cameras – something that proved correct months later.

Historically, Apple has supplied molds and diagrams of its upcoming iPhones to accessory manufacturers well in advance, making third-party cases available at the launch of the phones. This explains why leaked dimensions and dummy models are usually consistently accurate around the March/April time frame.

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