: Apple unveils iPhone 15 lineup, increases base price on highest-end model for first time

Apple Inc. largely kept iPhone prices the same as it rolled out its newest lineup Tuesday, though it dropped the cheapest configuration of its Pro Max version in an effective price hike on that model.

The iPhone 15 Pro will start at $999 for 128 GB of storage, the same as last year’s model. A 256 GB iPhone 15 Pro Max will cost $1,199, also in line with the comparable iPhone 14 Pro Max, though Apple
dropped a 128GB configuration of its highest-end model that started at a lower price. Apple had maintained a $1,099 base price on the iPhone Pro Max since its introduction in 2019.

Apple previewed the new devices at its annual launch event Tuesday, while highlighting feature improvements. The iPhone 15 Pro line will have a faster chip in Apple’s custom-designed A17 Pro processor, which the company says will enhance mobile gaming and autocorrect.

Apple had been expected to raise prices on both its Pro and Pro Max models before Tuesday’s event. Wedbush analyst Dan Ives called the lack of a price increase for the iPhone Pro model “a surprise move” in a note Tuesday, but said the increase for the Pro Max was “a smart strategic move with the enhanced technology, A17 chip, and battery technology.”

See here for MarketWatch’s live coverage of the event

While the new Pro models look fairly similar to their predecessors, Apple has upgraded their casing to titanium. Apple says this makes the phones lighter. It’s also slimming down the phone’s edges.

Past iPhones have had a button on the side to switch from ring to silent, but Apple is changing that to an “action button” that can take on various functions. Apple is also enhancing the Pro cameras, “offering incredible image quality at a practical file size ideal for storing and sharing,” according to the company’s release.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is getting an exclusive camera upgrade. It will have better telephoto technology so that people will be able to zoom up to five times, relative to three times previously.

The Pro models will come in black, white, blue and natural titanium color options. Preorders begin Sept. 15, while availability starts Sept. 22. Some had expected the iPhone 15 Pro Max to be delayed into October.

Apple is making changes to its base-level iPhones as well. The company last year introduced a Dynamic Island for Pro-level models, making the notch space around the front-facing camera more functional. Now that feature is coming to the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus.

The standard iPhones are also getting faster than before, though only with Apple’s A16 processor, which is featured in last year’s Pro versions but not this year’s. Apple says the chip will better support graphics-intensive games.

Don’t miss: Everything you need to know about the Apple Watch Series 9

Apple called out improved Portrait Mode functions on the iPhone, including the ability to take photos this way without activity switching to the setting. The company also highlighted a 48-megapixel main camera.

“The key upgrade point for consumers continues to be a camera and Apple didn’t disappoint with the 48MP,” said Maribel Lopez, a tech industry analyst and founder of Lopez Research. “The bigger surprise was the focus on sustainability to offset the concerns that device makers are creating more waste with annual product upgrades.”  

The company will include two years’ worth of free satellite services with the iPhone 15. Apple showed off a roadside-assistance feature that has been added to its satellite-based capabilities.

Apple is keeping a starting price of $799 for the iPhone 15 and $899 for the iPhone 15 Plus.

Read: What’s a better deal — an iPhone 15 or $800 in Apple stock? 

The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus will come in pink, yellow, green, blue and black color options. Preorders start Sept. 15, and users will be able to get their hands on them beginning Sept. 22.

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