How Apple’s pink iPhone 15 embraces a cultural shift and keeps it cute

iPhone 15
(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

I’m sitting at my desk, typing on my pink keyboard, sipping tea from my pink mug, and frantically looking up iPhone 15 pre-orders to make sure I get my hands on the pink iPhone 15 as soon as I possibly can.

I’ve been waiting a long time for Apple to drop the pink phone for as long as I can remember, and the day has finally come. Since the phone debuted at this week’s Apple event the hype for the new phone has been palpable, but what separates the pink iPhone 15 from its rose gold predecessor, the iPhone 6S? And why are people so much hungrier for it? 

Of course, a good chunk of the pink phone’s appeal can be attributed to the recent success of the Barbie movie, a wonderful film that brought what I would call the ‘pink renaissance’ to a head. Apple has always been a company that plans each design choice meticulously, and no detail is left to chance. 

I’d argue that the pink - and the pale blue - iPhone 15 models have been introduced this year to capitalize not just on the Barbie hype but also take advantage of a new audience that’s a lot more fluid, in many ways more so than the consumers of the 2010s. It’s not entirely exclusive to age, but consumers today are more flexible with a lot of aspects of their lives: gender and sexuality, constructs of self-identity, self-aware consumption, and a lot more.

Pink is more than just a color, and I’m certain Apple knows that too. 

It all comes down to color theory

To understand why this particular shade of pink is so important, we have to examine the way the color has changed over time within the cultural zeitgeist.  

Pink is no longer the ‘girl color’ that once neatly divided the toy section of shops, so you knew which aisle to go to to get your daughter or niece the perfect gift. The color got a girl-boss makeover in the mid-2000s up to around 2015, coming back in full force as ‘millennial pink’ which swarmed make-up brands and other beauty products as an almost ‘ironic’ color.       

It was a shade of pink that was used to give the impression of an ‘acceptable’ aesthetic pink, a sort of ‘post-prettiness’, and gained popularity very quickly for promoting a dainty sense of femininity that evaded the negative connotations associated with the color. If you throw yourself back to 2014 you might remember Pinterest being flooded with pastel pink artwork, fashion photography, and inspirational quotes. This was the contemporary rebirth of the color pink from a childish shade to a woman’s color.

The first ‘pink’ iPhone was the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus which came in a ‘rose gold’ shade in 2015, at the height of millennial pink’s popularity. I remember begging and pleading with my parents to buy me the rose gold phone, as it was the center of a lot of Tumblr posts and basically the phone for teenage girls and young women at the time.

Of course, I felt very left out. Apple spotted the shift in pink’s public popularity and dropped its first pink phone at the perfect time - and that’s exactly what is happening with the iPhone 15. 

The color pink has gone through tremendous reform over the years. From a color most girls struggle away from in adolescence, to duller, more palatable ‘girlboss’, blush to the loud and proud Barbie pink. 

Apple has once again picked the perfect moment to go pink, and with a consumer base ready and waiting to gobble up the gorgeous new phone, it’ll no doubt become very popular very quickly. I don’t think anything could ever match the hype of the iPhone 6S way back in 2015, but it will get very close. 

Now, time to pre-order my dream phone. 

Muskaan Saxena
Computing Staff Writer

Muskaan is TechRadar’s UK-based Computing writer. She has always been a passionate writer and has had her creative work published in several literary journals and magazines. Her debut into the writing world was a poem published in The Times of Zambia, on the subject of sunflowers and the insignificance of human existence in comparison. Growing up in Zambia, Muskaan was fascinated with technology, especially computers, and she's joined TechRadar to write about the latest GPUs, laptops and recently anything AI related. If you've got questions, moral concerns or just an interest in anything ChatGPT or general AI, you're in the right place. Muskaan also somehow managed to install a game on her work MacBook's Touch Bar, without the IT department finding out (yet).