08/20 Update below. This post was originally published on August 17
Apple’s iPhone 15 release date has leaked repeatedly, along with most of the range’s major upgrades. Now one of the few remaining mysteries appears to have been solved, and it comes with a shock twist.
Earlier this year, leaks claimed Apple’s transition of the iPhone 15 range to USB-C would bring faster charging and data speeds. Those links went quiet in recent months, but specialist site ChargerLab has now discovered a new integrated circuit (IC) from leaked iPhone 15 component photos, indicating that “at least three iPhone 15 models will incorporate Thunderbolt/USB4’s 40Gbps high-speed data transmission feature.”
Given that this upgrade was previously tipped only for the two iPhone 15 Pro models at best, that discovery is a genuine shock. Apple’s current strategy with iPads, for instance, restricts Thunderbolt speeds to the Pro range. Moreover, the difference in speeds is enormous. For context, until now, all iPhone models have been limited to USB 2.0 speeds (480 megabits per second), while Thunderbolt 4’s 40Gbps performance is the equivalent of 40,000 megabits per second. It’s a stratospheric upgrade.
So what does this leaked IC do? ChargerLab explains that it is called a retimer and is used to enhance signal transmission stability, particularly for high-capacity data ports and minimizing jitter. There’s simply no reason for an iPhone to have one without Thunderbolt 4-level speeds.
And this advancement isn’t merely for the benefit of technical enthusiasts. The inclusion of Thunderbolt can transform workflows, resulting in rapid data transfers and backups almost 100x faster than before. Thunderbolt’s ability to deliver more power could also translate to quicker charging times for users — an area where iPhones have lagged behind Android rivals for years.
All of which could make the discovery of this tiny retimer chip one of the most exciting things about the iPhone 15 range. Previously leaked iPhone 15 Pro upgrades such as their super slim bezels, titanium chassis, WiFi 6E, A17 Bionic and periscope zoom camera, and the Dynamic Island design for the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus are welcome, but they won’t have as much daily relevance as faster charging and backup speeds for everyday users.
And with widely expected price rises coming to iPhone 15 models, this might just be one upgrade that convinces Apple fans to pay more.
08/19 Update: for all the upgrades found in the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, a new leak has revealed one surprising component that will be unchanged: the primary camera.
In a new post, reliable leaker Unknownz21 states that “Both the 15 Pro and the 15 Pro Max use the same Sony IMX-803 image sensor for the main camera – something also found in the 14 Pro.”
This is somewhat unexpected given the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus will step up to 48-megapixel primary cameras this year, narrowing the performance gap to the Pro models.
iPhone 15 Pros had been expected to move to Sony’s new IMX-903 sensor, which was announced in July, promising focus tracking of fast objects, high frame rate 4K video capture and larger 1.4µm pixels (Vs 1.22µm in the IMX-803), which capture more light and reduce noise in photos.
That said, I would be surprised if the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max did not launch with some primary camera improvements compared to their predecessors. How? Much of modern-day smartphone photography comes down to image processing, and the next-generation 3nm A17 in both these new iPhones should deliver new computational wizardry.
That said, anyone expecting a big leap in iPhone 15 Pro primary camera performance is likely to be disappointed.
08/20 Update: the torrent of iPhone 15 information continues to flow from Unknownz21. In a new post, the leaker reveals a new color option for the entry-level iPhone 15, which currently has three names internally: Pink, Blush Gold and Rose Gold.
“The names alone indicate this was more of a pastel color, rather than something particularly vibrant,” notes the leaker.
In response to one comment, Unknownz21 states that the color is similar to the MacBook Air Gold but less yellow.
Interestingly, two of these names have been used before. Rose gold was a favorite of the company for several years, while Blush gold was a long-rumored mid-cycle color for the iPhone X, it even passed FCC certification but was never released.
This leak builds on earlier information from respected insider ShrimpApplePro, who broke down the colors for the iPhone 15 range as: Midnight, Starlight, Green, Light Yellow, Pink and Product (RED).
Exact branding for all these colors is missing, but there is both some alignment and confusion. Whereas ShrimpApplePro lists pink and the seemingly-relevant ‘light yellow’ as two separate color options, it appears that Unknownz21 believes it will be the same finish.
Either way, given the smartphone’s status as a fashion accessory, Apple’s annual refresh of its iPhone color options always garners a lot of interest, and this year will be no exception.
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