By Jack Phillips
Apple Inc. on Tuesday unveiled its iPhone 15 and announced that its latest device will ditch Apple’s Lightning connector to the more common USB-C standard, which is universal.
In the Cupertino, California, event, Apple showed videos of the USB-C charger being used and the iPhone’s upgraded charging port. An Apple narrator of one of the videos announced the switch: “We’re bringing USB-C to iPhone 15.”
Apple appeared to market the change as a way to also charge iPhones, MacBook pros, and other Apple products.
However, reports have said that Apple switched to USB-C to comply with a new European Union regulation that requires the manufacturers of electronic devices to switch to the standard by 2024, according to a news release from the bloc.
“This means that in 2024, a USB-C port will become mandatory for a whole range of electronic devices such as mobile phones, tablets, and headphones. It will no longer be necessary to buy a different charger every time you purchase a new mobile phone or similar device: all of them can be recharged using the same charger,” the EU release last year said.
In making the cables “mandatory,” the EU release said that “a common charger will improve consumer convenience by harmonizing charging interfaces … and will significantly reduce electronic waste.”
Introduced in 2014, USB-C chargers have been used for a variety of different devices, including many Android and Samsung phones, newer laptops, Beats headphones, Macbook Pro laptops, and more.
Apple said it also updated the latest iPhone’s camera system. The base iPhone 15 rear camera system will include a 48-megapixel main sensor.
Pre-orders for the iPhone 15 start Friday, Sept. 15, and devices will be shipping out a week after that, according to the company. The iPhone 15 starts from $799, while the iPhone 15 Plus will cost $899, according to reports.
The event at Apple’s Cupertino, California, headquarters comes amid a global smartphone slump and lingering economic uncertainty, namely in China. Apple’s third-largest market where it faces challenges from expanded restrictions on using its iPhones in Chinese Communist Party offices and the first new flagship phone in several years from Huawei Technologies.
Apple was expected to increase the average price per phone sold to boost its revenue, but the question is whether it does that by raising prices across the board or just on premium versions. The global smartphone market has slumped from shipping 294.5 million total phones to 268 million in the second quarter, but Apple’s shipments declined the least of any major smartphone maker, dropping from 46.5 million phones to 45.3 million, according to data from Counterpoint Research.
“The truth of the matter is, we’re in a very down smartphone market,” said Bob O’Donnell, head of TECHnalysis Research.
The tech giant has also been in the midst of a slump that has seen its sales drop in three consecutive quarters. Apple’s stock price has dipped by nearly 10 percent since mid-July, dropping the company’s market value below the $3 trillion threshold it reached for the first time earlier this summer.
Apple also debuted a new Series 9 Watch with a more powerful processor on Tuesday and also introduced a new feature to the Series 9 watches called “double tap” where users tap their thumb and finger together twice, without touching the watch, in order to perform tasks like answering a phone call.
It uses machine learning to detect tiny changes in blood flow when the user taps their fingers together, freeing up the other hand for other tasks like walking a dog or holding a cup of coffee, said Apple Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams.
Meanwhile, the arrival of the new iPhones also sets the stage for the next version of the software that powers the device. That operating system, iOS 17, will be available as a free download to previous generations later this month and will include new features such as the ability to read a transcription of a message being left on an unanswered call in real-time with an option of deciding to talk to the person on the line before the voicemail is finished.
Several days ago, Apple also confirmed that it released an emergency security update for a range of its devices, including iPhones, after a dangerous form of malware was discovered by a third-party researcher.
It came after the Pegasus spyware created by Israel-based NSO Group was found in iPads and iPhones. Researchers with the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab said in a post Thursday they found Pegasus on an Apple device of an employee of a Washington-based civil society group. Few details were provided.
“We attribute the exploit to NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware with high confidence, based on forensics we have from the target device,” said Bill Marczak, senior researcher at Citizen Lab, the third-party group that is based at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, according to Reuters.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.