The Biggest Differences Between the iPhone 15/15 Plus and iPhone 14/14 PlusReading Time: 4 minutes
See how the latest generation of iPhones compares to the last.
The iPhone 15 and 15 Plus will be available soon, and many of us are already sizing them up against last year’s iPhone 14. While the 14 is by no means obsolete, there are definitely some big differences between the two generations of iPhones—though nothing revolutionary.
One difference you’ll see right away with the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus is the Dynamic Island. The Dynamic Island was previously only available on iPhone 14 Pro models. This year, it’s available on all iPhone 15 devices, Pro or not.
Gone is the ‘notch’ that used to take up a large swath of the screen, replaced by an expandable ‘island.‘ While this space still houses your iPhone’s selfie camera and Face ID sensors, it can also display app data and Live Activities, which makes it useful for everything from seeing which song is currently playing to checking in on your next turn via Apple Maps.
You may have heard talk of Apple removing the mute switch in favor of a programmable ‘Action button.’ Unfortunately, you won’t get this on the iPhone 15 or 15 Plus—it’s an 15 Pro exclusive. At least you don’t have to worry about saying goodbye to your mute switch just yet if you go with one of these devices.
While the notch is no longer there, one thing that hasn’t changed between the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus and the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus is the size of the displays. Both base models come with a 6.1-inch OLED display, while the Plus iPhones comes with a 6.7-inch OLED. All of these iPhones have a maximum refresh rate of 60Hz. It’s a perfectly acceptable screen for a smartphone, and looks great, but it would be nice to see the 120Hz refresh rate Apple reserves for its Pro iPhones.
The displays are quite a bit brighter than last year’s models, however. The iPhone 14 and 14 Plus could reach 800 nits of brightness in normal situations, and 1,200 nits when viewing HDR content, while the 15s are able to reach 1,000 nits of brightness typically, 1,600 nits during HDR playback, and 2,000 nits when used outdoors.
Beyond the displays, performance is an area where you’ll see some differences. The iPhone 14 and 14 Plus use the iPhone 13’s A15 Bionic chip, which was already a year old when the iPhone 14 dropped. The iPhone 15 and 15 Plus now sport the A16 Bionic, which still isn’t Apple’s fastest smartphone chipset (it’s the same chip use in the iPhone 14 Pro models). Still, the A16 Bionic is more than capable, so iPhone 15 owners can expect to see a boost in performance over their old iPhone, especially in multitasking and resource-hungry applications.
Exact performance metrics for the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus aren’t available just yet. But if you’re buying purely for performance, the 15 is going to be the better bet over the 14. As it’s one year newer, Apple will support it longer, which means more iOS updates, security enhancements, and possibly performance boosts from more optimized iOS updates in the future—though given Apple only just dropped support for the iPhone X, either phone will still receive updates for years to come.
The iPhone 15 line also comes with a next-gen Ultra Wideband chip, which expands on the Precise Finding feature found on previous iPhones. While on either phone the Find My can guide you towards your lost AirTag or AirPods, the app on an iPhone 15 can also provide exact directions to point you towards a friend who has shared their location with you.
The iPhone 14 brought some major camera changes with it when it first released, but the iPhone 15’s cameras take things up a notch. Apple has equipped both the 15 and 15 Plus with a 48MP main camera and 12MP ultra-wide camera, whereas both cameras on the 14 and 14 Plus are 12MP. That larger 48MP sensor means more data every time you take a photo, which should result in higher quality images overall.
Although the 15s don’t have a telephoto lens, Apple claims they can shoot in 2x optical zoom. That’s because of that large 48MP sensor, which, when cropped, gives you a high-quality zoom when compared to the 12MP sensor on the 14. In addition, you don’t need to switch to Portrait mode on the 15s to take portraits: They gather enough info taking a normal photo to allow you to add the portrait effect after the fact.
The entire iPhone 15 lineup gets a huge upgrade to the front camera, too: The 15 and 15 Plus both sport an improved 48MP front-facing selfie camera. The iPhone 14 and 14 Plus are still stuck with the old 12MP camera from the last generation, so selfies taken on the iPhone 15 will look at much better, especially with the new camera features coming to iOS 17.
Of course, you can’t talk about the iPhone 15 without highlighting USB-C. Apple finally brought the universal port to the iPhone, so your dreams of carrying one cable with you for all your tech is that much closer. Don’t expect faster transfer speeds, though: Apple still uses the same USB 2.0 tech on the USB-C iPhone 15, so as with the Lightning ports, your transfer speeds are capped at 480 Mbps. The 15 Pros, on the other hand, are capable of 10 Gbps speeds with USB 3.0. That said, you can use the USB-C port on the 15 and 15 Plus to charge your USB-C AirPods Pro case or your Apple Watch, so that’s pretty cool.
Ultimately, the iPhone 15 isn’t a revolutionary step up from the iPhone 14, but a few key areas make the newest generation of Apple’s smartphones worth looking into. If you plan to upgrade soon, then both the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus offer plenty of refreshed features and specs to justify the move.
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