The fifteens

Fri Sep 29, 2023

I’m a big fan of titanium. It’s much stronger than aluminum and is far more resistant to corrosion. It is heavier than aluminum, but, as you need less of it to achieve comparable strength, titanium parts actually end up being much lighter. For this reason, it’s used in aircraft jet engines, spaceships, and subsea equipment. Basically, titanium is perfect for extreme environments.

Titanium is also one of the only visible changes to the flagship iPhone 15 pro when compared to last year’s iPhone 14 pro. It would be a mistake, however, to claim that the iPhone 15 pro has a titanium body. Only the rails around the edge are titanium. The back is still glass, and will instantly break when dropped onto concrete at waist level.

The only benefit of using titanium, therefore, is weight reduction. Considering how heavy the stainless-steel bands of previous Pro iPhones are, this isn’t a bad thing. It’s just that it’s the only thing I can think of to talk about, and even I’ll admit that a discussion on the physical properties of metals isn’t exactly riveting reading material.

Without poring over the spec sheet, I’d be hard-pressed to come up with any other outrageous differences between this year and last year’s flagship iPhones. Besides from the usual - a faster CPU and better cameras, which Apple introduces every year like clockwork.

Okay, fine. I guess this will be a very short post if I don’t look into it some more.

(pores over spec sheet)

Okay, I’ve taken a look at the spec sheet.

Thanks to those aggressive European regulators, the connector has changed from lightening to USB C. Is this a big deal? If you’re into wireless charging, not really. I don’t care about it because I’m several generations behind on the iPhone XS - this change won’t affect me for many years to come. But maybe some people will be mad that they need to buy different cables.

The mute switch has changed to a programmable “action button”. The mute switch has been a mainstay since the original iPhone, so losing it actually is a big deal. And yet, although you can no longer tell if your phone is silenced just by looking at it, most people (under a certain age) seem to leave their phones silenced permanently. This cultural shift started when people moved away from landlines - ringing phones are a faux pas and nobody picks them up anymore anyway. Voice calls are going the way of the fax machine - only to be used by government officials.

What else? Slightly slimmer bezels, new colours, oh, and you can now record “3D” spatial videos. Apple is wisely distancing themselves from the terrifying Dad wearing VR goggles at his kid’s birthday party. Now the Dad can just take a video using his phone like a regular parent. My future self thanks you. Although, by the time I get to try the Vision Pro, my kids will have moved out.

You’ll notice that I’ve largely ignored the “regular” iPhones, mostly because they aren’t fun to write about and make me mad (last year’s CPU, ugh). Similar to last year, the regular iPhone 15 is a watered-down version of the Pro, but most tech reviewers will still call it a “great phone for most people”.

The notch is now officially dead, as all new models now sport the Dynamic Island instead. And so, with a whimper - not a bang, my long-running “Notch Watch” segment comes to an end… And so begins “Dynamic-Island Watch”. (Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it though, so maybe I’ll pass)

Look, the incremental changes we got on the iPhones this year are completely unsurprising. Normal people don’t upgrade their phone every year anymore - and nor should they. Even Apple spent a large chunk of this year’s online presentation talking with Mother Nature in an unamusing comedic skit. It was their attempt to make their commitment to the environment palatable - reducing their carbon footprint (while conveniently also cutting costs of course, I could write this stuff in my sleep).

I was about to wrap up when I remembered that Apple also introduced Apple Watch Series 9 as well. To summarize: it is the same as Series 8, except with a faster processor. Next year, however, will mark the tenth generation of the Apple Watch. I’ve heard whispers of a design change. We’ll see.

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