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Apple introduces its biggest changes to the iPhone in years

Apple unveiled a host of exciting upgrades to its signature smartphone series with the introduction of the iPhone 15 lineup — as well as the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra — at the company’s Wonderlust event Tuesday.

From dropping its proprietary Lightning port and ring silencer toggle to introducing a futuristic new way to control Apple Watches, here are the biggest changes the company announced to its product lineups:

Say good-bye to iPhone’s longtime Lightning connector

Apple debuted its Lightning port with the iPhone 5 back in 2012 — a lifetime ago when it comes to smartphones. But the iPhone 15 series now uses the USB-C, which is also used to charge Apple laptops and iPads, as well as a variety of non-Apple devices. This change to a universal charging standard marks a major milestone for the company.

[Related: Upgrade to the new iPhone 15 with AT&T]

The likely reason for the change? Last year, European Union regulators voted to require the USB-C port as a common charging standard, which meant Apple needed to change the phone’s port to meet EU standards by the end of 2024.

Apple's iPhone 15 series will now be using the USB-C port, which its laptops currently use.
Apple's iPhone 15 series will now be using the USB-C port, which its laptops currently use. (Apple)

The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max are made of titanium, among other upgrades

The 6.1-inch iPhone 15 Pro and 6.7-inch Pro Max — the two high-end models of the 15 lineup — are made with titanium casing, the same alloy used in the Mars Rover, compared with stainless steel in last year’s Pro models. This means the 15 Pro phones are thinner, lighter and more durable. They come in four metallic colors: black, white, blue and natural titanium (similar to silver).

The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max phones come in a metallic black, white, blue and silver colors.
The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max phones come in a metallic black, white, blue and "natural" silver colors.

For the Pro models, Apple also got rid of the ring silencer toggle that has been an iPhone mainstay since 2007, replacing it with a pressable “action button” that will be used to silence the phone but can also carry out a host of other commands, such as recording a voice memo or taking a picture.

[Related: Great deal on Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro Max]

The Pro phones’ new features make them ideal for photographers, filmmakers and gamers. The iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max are getting a new A17 Bionic chip that features 3-nanometer technology, providing faster processing and a longer lasting battery.

The Pro phones’ new camera features include a 48-megapixel main camera with a larger sensor than on the base model iPhone 15. The Pros can shoot high-resolution photos in 24mm, 28mm and 35mm focal lengths.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max's optical zoom can enhance images.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max's optical zoom can enhance images. (Apple)

The 15 Pro Max also has a new 5x optical telephoto camera — almost double the previous model. This means zoomed-in photos have better detail and resolution compared with the 3x digital zoom on the iPhone 14 Pro.

When it comes to price, the iPhone 15 Pro starts at $999 and the iPhone 15 Pro Max starts at $1,199.

The iPhone 15 and Plus 15’s upgrades bring them more in line with last year’s Pro models

The iPhone 15 and 15 Plus (which, like the Pro models, have a 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch screen respectively) have the 48-megapixel main camera and A16 chip that the iPhone 14 Pros have. They’re offered in five colors: black, blue, green, yellow and pink.

The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus are offered in five colors: black, blue, green, yellow and pink.
The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus are offered in five colors: black, blue, green, yellow and pink. (Apple)

Both the 15 and 15 Plus come with the Dynamic Island feature that Apple introduced with last year’s Pro phones. The size-changing pill-shaped feature, which is at the top of the screen where the notch had been, displays alerts, notifications and background app activity.

[Related: AT&T offers new iPhone 15 series, Apple Watch Series 9, Apple Watch Ultra 2 and AirPods Pro (2nd generation)]

The upgrade from the A15 to the A16 chip should result in improved performance and efficiency, as well as "all-day battery life." Camera-wise, the iPhone 15 models offer improved image stabilization and the ability to take better portraits with richer color and higher low-light performance.

Good news on pricing: The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus are retailing for $799 and $899, respectively — the same prices their comparable models sold for last year.

Apple Watch Series 9

The Apple Watch Series 9 now has a new S9 chip that should allow for an improved 18-hour battery life and app launch speeds. Additionally, the S9 offers double the display brightness of the Series 8 watch.

[Related: Save on Apple Watch Series 8 and first-generation Watch Ultra]

The upgrade that made the biggest splash is something Apple calls Double Tap — the ability to control and respond to your Apple Watch by simply tapping your index finger and thumb together twice. Powered by the S9 chip’s neural engine, Apple Watch wearers can use double tap to answer phone calls, play and pause music, hit the snooze button on their Watch alarm, scroll through widgets and more. This feature will be available starting next month.

Apple is also introducing a new pink color option for the Series 9. Pricing starts at $399.

Apple Watch Series 9 is introducing a new pink color.
Apple Watch Series 9 is introducing a new pink color. (Apple)

Apple Watch Ultra 2

Apple introduced this top-of-the-line Watch last year for outdoor enthusiasts who need a more rugged and durable watch, such as mountaineers, scuba divers, cyclists, ultramarathoners and more. The second iteration is getting the same faster S9 chip as the Watch Series 9. It comes with the brightest display of any Apple Watch, including over the Series 9.

Same as the Watch Series 9, the Ultra 2 also offers the Double Tap feature. The Ultra 2’s battery can last up to 36 hours on a single charge, and up to 72 hours on low power mode.

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 starts at $799.

—By Pauline Vu

The information included within this article is AT&T-sponsored content written by a Currently Media editorial contributor. The statements in this article do not necessarily reflect the positions, strategies or opinions of AT&T.