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iPhone 15: Lack of smartphone competition results in lackluster innovation

The news: The latest Apple iPhone 15 rumors indicate greater differentiation between regular and Pro models, plus a price hike. But new features will be limited, pointing to innovation saturation in the smartphone space.

Key changes in the iPhone line: Apple will likely maintain a four-product iPhone line, with regular and Max versions for both the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro, per Bloomberg.

  • USB-C: Adopting the universal charging-port standard for consumer electronics makes Apple’s switch from the Lightning connector the biggest design and functionality update for iPhone 15.
  • Thinner bezels: The new iPhones will differentiate themselves with thinner bezels, allowing for incrementally more screen real estate thanks to new display technology.
  • Dynamic Island: Base model iPhone 15s will leave the display notch behind and will adopt the Dynamic Island, similar to the Pro models. 
  • Action button: This year’s iPhones might incorporate a programmable button similar to what Apple has been offering in the Apple Watch.
  • Titanium frame: The iPhone Pro models will have Titanium frames instead of the current stainless steel frames, while non-pro iPhones will come with aluminum frames. 
  • More expensive Pros: More premium materials are likely to pump up pricing, especially for the Pro line, which is expected to get up to a $200 price increase for the Pro Max models. 

Trendspotting: Dominant smartphone companies like Samsung and Apple are offering minor design and performance improvements that could entice customers updating to new devices. 

However, it also denotes an industry-wide plateau in terms of design and innovation—an indication that we’ve reached peak smartphone. 

The problem: With the 5G transition nearly complete, consumers have fewer reasons to consider expensive new smartphones. Lack of competition has also slowed innovation, which could result in customers holding on to their devices for a year or two more. 

The benefit: As smartphone innovation stalls, we will continue to see premium features trickle down to mid-range smartphone models, further blurring the line between basic and premium devices.