The iPhone 15 could be the phone we expected the iPhone 14 to be

iPhone 13
The iPhone 13 is on the verge of being replaced (Image credit: TechRadar)

We're certainly excited to see what Apple has in store with the iPhone 14 – a launch event is expected early in September – but a couple of reports suggest that the iPhone 15 will include tech upgrades originally slated for this year's line-up.

First up is news from the supply chain (via MacRumors) that Apple partner TSMC will begin manufacturing 3nm chips before the end of the year – including the A17 Bionic processor that we're expecting to see powering at least some of the iPhone 15 models. That 3nm means 3 nanometers, and since the iPhone 12, Apple has used 5nm chips in its handsets.

Fewer nanometers means a higher level of performance in the same physical space, with less power draw (and better battery life). Despite whispers that the iPhone 14 would switch to a 3nm chip, it looks as though it's going to carry on the 5nm tradition.

Here comes USB-C

Besides the switch to 3nm and the associated performance increase, the iPhone 15 might also come with a USB-C port rather than a Lightning one. Again, this is something that has previously been rumored for the iPhone 14, but which now looks unlikely for this year.

As per Apple Insider, India is the latest country to consider introducing regulation that would standardize electronics chargers – and that would probably mean Apple having to adopt USB-C on its iPhones in the same way that it already has on its iPads and its Macs.

European governments are also making noises about this kind of standardization, and it's very possible that Apple would want to get ahead of any rulings by switching to USB-C on the iPhone as soon as it can... which might well be September 2023.

Analysis: slow and steady upgrades

It seems a long time since Apple really wowed us with an iPhone upgrade. In recent years, we've become used to steady, incremental improvements – some extra optical zoom here, a bit of additional RAM there – while the overall blueprint has stayed largely the same.

That's to be expected really: there are only so many ways you can design a smartphone, after all. Apart from the introduction of the foldable form factor, nothing has properly shaken up the market for the last few years, and we might have to go all the way back to the notch on the iPhone X for the last time we were truly surprised.

From what we're hearing, the iPhone 15 could buck that trend. Previous leaks have pointed to a significant camera upgrade, at least for the Pro models, and if it's also the first iPhone to come with USB-C and new 3nm chipsets inside, then it could be the major upgrade that we've been waiting a long time for.

Further complicating matters is Apple's rumored decision to start differentiating between the Pro and standard models in terms of their CPUs – that's apparently happening this year, and it's going to mean even more factors to weigh up when choosing a new iPhone.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.