Should you upgrade to iPhone 15 Pro and later just for Apple Intelligence? Maybe not for now


iPhone 15 Pro | Image credit – PhoneArena

Just a few days back, Apple officially joined the AI club and announced its so-called Apple Intelligence, a suite of AI features set to debut on select devices with the official release of iOS 18 later this fall.

However, the tech giant clarified that Apple Intelligence will only be available on the latest iPhone 15 Pro models and newer, as well as iPads and MacBooks powered by the M1 chip or later. This got me thinking: Would I upgrade to the current Pro models or the upcoming iPhone 16 series just for Apple Intelligence? My answer is no, and here is why.

Not giving up my iPhone 13 mini yet

So, here is the thing. As intrigued as I am by Apple’s latest AI features, they just don’t justify spending $1000+ on a new Pro model for me. My current iPhone 13 mini, while it may be considered older now, still gets the job done. Plus, its compact form factor is something I find irreplaceable, especially in a market where smaller phones are increasingly rare.

But setting aside size, Apple Intelligence just doesn’t impress me all that much, at least not yet. While the features Apple unveiled are useful in certain scenarios, I personally prefer taking matters into my own hands rather than relying on AI, especially when it involves private conversations and a big part of the new AI features are related to new writing tools in basically anywhere where there is a cursor, such as Mail and the Messages app.I mean, where is the fun in chatting with your girlfriend if AI is suggesting responses to her witty questions? And what about AI summarizing lengthy messages, making it easier to catch up on conversations? How would I then know what John joked about and why our group trip is going south?

Plus, statistics indicate that 52% of consumers have doubts about AI’s ability to protect private information, so features like that might not be widely adopted. There are simply aspects of life where AI has no place despite its rapid development. As the wise girls from the Spice Girls once said:

Apple also unveiled a new AI-powered feature that allows users to remove unwanted objects from their images. It is cool, although not groundbreaking since Google and Samsung already have similar tools like Magic Eraser and Object Eraser. But is this feature alone worth an upgrade?

Apple’s new Clean Up tool | Image credit – Apple

There are plenty of online platforms offering the same solution, and if you really need to remove someone or something from a photo, you can still do it — just with a few extra clicks, but the job gets done.

The one thing that can make me consider an upgrade at the moment is Siri

The updated Siri sounds significantly improved compared to the current version. Apple has revamped Siri using large language models to make it smarter and more responsive to user queries. The new Siri can now perform actions within Apple’s own apps, greatly enhancing its capabilities.Imagine telling Siri to open a document, move a file, delete an email, edit a photo, or provide a quick summary of your notifications and articles. That is the level of convenience Apple is introducing with the updated Siri.

However, as impressive as these updates are, they are not compelling enough for me to upgrade sooner than planned. Plus, in my case, I will have the opportunity to experience Apple Intelligence on my MacBook, so upgrading just doesn’t make sense for me, and probably for many of you too — especially if you already own an iPhone 13,  iPhone 14 series, or the basic models of the iPhone 15 series.

Why only the Pro models?

To be honest, it feels like a bit of a jerk move from Apple to release Apple Intelligence exclusively for its latest Pro models. The iPhone 15 series launched less than a year ago, and I am sure many customers who purchased the basic models were caught off guard.

Rumors suggest that DRAM (dynamic random-access memory) is the reason why AI will be available on the iPhone 15 Pro models and beyond. The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus have 6GB of DRAM, which is less than the 8GB found on the A17 Pro powering the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. Allegedly, Apple Intelligence’s on-device AI LLM (large language model) requires about 2GB or less of DRAM.

And you might wonder why Apple didn’t give the basic models 8GB of RAM, as well. I mean, flagship Android phones are slowly moving towards 12GB of RAM as the standard. I wonder about that, too, but I will save that topic for another time.

Right now, Apple says most Apple Intelligence features work directly on your iPhone, keeping your data secure because it stays local. But for more complex tasks or those that go beyond what your iPhone can handle, Apple uses larger server-based models on its own servers built with Apple silicon, called Private Cloud Compute.

Another way to handle complex tasks is through ChatGPT. Apple teamed up with OpenAI, so your iPhone might suggest using the chatbot for tasks ChatGPT is good at. You can say no if you want. Apple’s big on privacy for ChatGPT users: their IP addresses stay hidden, and OpenAI doesn’t store their requests.

Your iPhone will ask you whether you want to use ChatGPT or not | Image credit – Apple

When Apple eventually reveals more details about its AI, likely in September during the iPhone 16 series unveiling, I hope the company will also expand compatibility for its Apple Intelligence, even if not on-device.

This could be a great solution for iPhone owners who still want to try the AI features but aren’t ready or able to upgrade yet or don’t mind their data going to a cloud. You know, offering someone a sneak peek is one of the best ways to convince them to buy it later on.

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