iPhone 16 vs iPhone 15: All the expected differences

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Intro

In just a few months, in September 2024, Apple is expected to unveil the new iPhone 16 series, bringing new features and improving the world’s most popular smartphone.
And in this article, we want to focus on the regular iPhone 16 model and all the changes coming to it, compared to the previous iPhone 15 model.
We also have similar breakdowns of the differences between other iPhone 16 models, so if you are more interested in the iPhone 16 Pro or 16 Pro Max make sure to check out those articles.

So, let’s now focus on the iPhone 16. This model is expected to remain the base one in the lineup and the most affordable of the four new iPhone 16 versions. We expect it to be priced at about $800, but a small price increase is possible. On the list of changes you will see a slightly tweaked design with a new pill-shaped rear camera island, a faster chipset with more RAM, not one, but two new physical buttons, and a few other improvements.

Will it be worth upgrading from the iPhone 15? Well, let’s dive in and find out!

iPhone 16 vs iPhone 15 expected differences:

Table of Contents:

Design and Display Quality

Ready for Spatial Video

Apple is not changing much with the iPhone 16 when it comes to its size and shape. Just like the previous iPhone 15, we have a 6.1-inch form factor on the newer model, and it will likely be crafted in a similar manner with an aluminum frame, with slightly tapered edges and a matte glass finish on the back.

Some slight reduction in the bezel size around the screen is possible, but not very likely as those thinner bezels are a feature Apple likes to keep for the iPhone Pro models.

What is changing, however, is the camera styling. Apple is switching to a new vertical camera arrangement on the iPhone 16. We had something like that in the past, last seen on the iPhone 12 series. So the cameras on the iPhone 16 will be in this new pill-shaped enclosure. The reason for the change this time is purely practical and related to a new feature, Spatial Video. This new 3D video format that looks stunning on the Vision Pro requires the camera lenses to be arranged in a line to work.

Rumors also say that all iPhone 16 models, including the base iPhone 16, will get an Action Button (which replaces the mute switch), as well as a brand new “Capture Button” for quickly launching the camera. This Capture Button will work like a shutter key on a camera, so it will focus on a slight press and take a picture once you press it all the way in.

So the Action Button will be on the left side, above the volume keys. Then the Capture Button will be on the right, below the Power Button. This is where Apple placed the mmWave antenna previously, so that will now have to move to the bottom left side, below the volume keys.

The rest is pretty much the same: if there is any change in size and weight, it will be barely noticeable. And of course, you will still have a USB-C port on the iPhone 16, and IP68 water and dust protection.

Oh, and in terms of colors, we expect six different color options, some of them familiar, but some new like a Purple version, which is rumored to be in the works.

But what about the screen? Expect the same 6.1-inch screen size, OLED with perfect blacks, but rumors say Apple will be using a new micro-lens technology to give it a brightness boost and to lower its power consumption.

These changes will be good to see, but the one display improvement that people actually want will not arrive on the iPhone 16.

We are talking about the 60Hz screen of course, or more specifically the lack of 120Hz ProMotion on the non-Pro iPhone models. The iPhone 16, as per all rumors, will run at 60Hz, just like the iPhone 15. And that is nowhere nearly as smooth as ProMotion. Rumors say the coveted feature will finally arrive with the vanilla iPhone 17 model in 2025, if that’s any consolation.

Performance and Software

New iPhone, new chip

The iPhone 16 is expected to run on a new and faster chipset.

For context, the iPhone 15 runs on the A16 Bionic chip, while the iPhone 16 is expected to be the first vanilla iPhone model to use a 3nm processor. This new chipset could be called the Apple A18 (different than the A18 Pro chipset coming to the Pro versions).

So far, we only know that this new chipset will be all about AI optimizations. Apple missed the AI hype train last year, but it’s fully invested in the technology and we expect to hear the words “AI” often in the context of the iPhone 16.

And speaking of AI, the iPhone 16 will also get 8GB of RAM, up from 6GB RAM on the iPhone 15. Most AI tasks seem to require extra RAM and that’s probably the number one reason for the upgrade. What this also means, however, is that it’s possible that at least some AI features will not be available on the older iPhone 15.

We don’t expect any changes to the storage tiers, though, so you will be able to choose between 128GB, 256GB or 512GB of native storage.

The iPhone 16 will probably also use the same modem as the iPhone 15, the Snapdragon X70. It’s a perfectly good solution, just not quite as advanced as the expected upgraded modem in the iPhone 16 Pro. That Pro model will likely get the X75 version with improved carrier aggregation, and a combined sub-6GHz and mmWave chip that takes up 25% less space on the board and uses 20% less power. 

Camera

Spatial Video, baby

With a new vertical camera system, the iPhone 16 might look different, but apart from Spatial Video support, it could be a much less exciting upgrade than last year’s iPhone 15.

So last year, the iPhone 15 was the first vanilla iPhone to use Apple’s 48MP main camera, a noticeable upgrade in both detail and low light imagery.

This year, with the iPhone 16, it seems that there will be no big hardware changes: same-ish 48MP main camera, same-ish 12MP ultra-wide camera, no dedicated telephoto lens.

Of course, some software tweaks will surely be made, but so far, leaks and rumors don’t have any more specifics.

With AI on board, we do expect to see new editing features: smart resize and smart move of objects in the photos are just some of the tricks Apple might borrow from Samsung’s and Google’s AI handbook.

As for video quality, chances are Spatial Video would be the big upgrade. You cannot truly appreciate these 3D videos on your phone, but you can on a AR/VR headset like the Apple Vision Pro, and having tried that, we are glad to have this option. Realistically, though, not many people own such a headset yet, so it might take a while until Spatial Video gets the appreciation it deserves.

Audio Quality and Haptics

Apple continually improves the audio quality from the iPhone loudspeakers, and we expect another gradual improvement, but nothing major.

And as for haptics, they have been excellent on iPhones ever since the Taptic Engine made its debut on the iPhone 6s! Don’t expect anything new on that front. 

Battery Life and Charging

Slightly bigger battery and even faster charging (possibly, maybe)

With the iPhone 16 size and form factor roughly the same as the previous iPhone 15, there will be no space for a much bigger battery.

Still, rumors say a slight upgrade is possible. 

The iPhone 16 is projected to get a 3,561mAh battery, up from a 3,349mAh battery size on the iPhone 15, or an upgrade of 6%. Interestingly, this regular iPhone 16 version will likely receive the biggest battery upgrade of all iPhone 16 models (some like the iPhone 16 Plus are getting a smaller battery, actually).

So far, that is the only thing we know about the battery equation. Will the 6% bigger battery results in improved real-world battery life? Probably, but chances are these battery gains won’t be huge.

Interestingly, it is possible that we see a change in charging speeds, the first one in years for Apple.

Some rumors claim that new iPhones might get 40W fast wired charging (up from 20W currently), and 20W fast MagSafe wireless charging (up from 15W currently).

This is far from certain, and knowing Apple’s conservative approach to fast charging, we have our doubts. It is also possible that those changes might only arrive to the Pro models, and not the regular iPhone 16. But right now, it’s a rumor and a hope, and not much more.

   

Specs Comparison

And here is a bird eye’s view of the expected iPhone 16 vs iPhone 15 specs:

Should you upgrade?

So… is the iPhone 16 a good upgrade?

The answer to that will have a lot to do with just how big of a difference AI makes on it. Good news is that AI will also be the major focus of Apple, so chances are that it gets it right. We will get a first look at Apple’s AI future very soon, at WWDC on June 10th when Apple will showcase the new iOS 18 operating system.

And as for the hardware, the iPhone 16 is not a huge upgrade: the faster chip and more RAM will not mean much for most users as the iPhone 15 is already plenty fast. Spatial Video will also be a feature few will care about, at least initially. And this leaves us with a modest, 6% upgrade in battery life and the new buttons which are actually quite welcome, but far from a game-changer that will inspire upgrades.

And the lack of 120Hz ProMotion on the iPhone 16 will continue to be the one feature designed to nudge you towards the pricier iPhone 16 Pro.

So… let’s wait and see all of that upcoming iPhone AI magic, shall we?


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