iPhone 15 wish list: USB-C, Touch ID and other features I want to see

iPhone 15 wish list: USB-C, Touch ID and other features I want to see

The iPhone 14 is only a few months old, but I’m already curious to see what’s in store for the iPhone 15. Apple gave us many of the upgrades we’ve been waiting for with the iPhone 14 — especially on Pro models. Such features include an always-on display to show the time at a glance and better multitasking through Dynamic Island.

Still, there are some ways Apple could take things further with the iPhone 15. For example, the company could do a better job of bringing certain Pro-exclusive features down to its less expensive iPhone models. Samsung often does this with its cheaper phones, and I’d like to see Apple embrace this approach more fully as well. Dynamic Island also shows a lot of promise already, but Apple could make it an even more integrated part of the iPhone experience.

Apple usually announces its new iPhones in September and launches them shortly thereafter. Here’s what I hope to see from the iPhone 15 next year.

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USB-C charging

iPhone 13, looking at the Lightning charging port

The iPhone still needs a Lightning cable to charge, but that may not be the case for much longer.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Lightning connector has been around 10 years, and it’s time for a change. With so many Apple products transitioning to USB-C, there’s never been a greater need for one charger that powers all devices. Apple currently has four different types of chargers on the market: Lightning (for iPhones, 2021 iPad, AirPods and some other accessories), USB-C (for most new iPads and MacBooks), MagSafe (the wireless magnetic charger for iPhones) and MagSafe 3 (the magnetic charger for the 2022 MacBook Air, 14-inch MacBook Pro, and 2021 16-inch MacBook Pro).

Making new iPhones compatible with USB-C instead of Lightning means you can use the same cable to charge your new phone, Mac and new iPads. There’s a good chance that most of your other electronics also use USB-C.

The good news is that a USB-C iPhone might not be too far away. Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, confirmed that the company would comply with the European Union’s mandate that all phones sold in the region must have a USB-C charging port. He made the comments during an interview at the Wall Street Journal Tech Live conference. Apple has also previously tested USB-C iPhones, according to Bloomberg.

However, Apple has not revealed any details about its plans. We don’t know if Apple will start switching to USB-C with the iPhone 15 or if it will wait until the following year, since the new rules require USB-C by the end of 2024. Apple also hasn’t said if USB-C will come to everyone iPhones or just European models, although analysts expect Apple to make a full switch to USB-C.

Higher refresh rate on the regular iPhone 15

An iPhone 14 with a rainbow background on the screen against a blue backdrop

The iPhone 14 Pro (pictured) has ProMotion, but the regular iPhone 14 does not.

James Martin/CNET

Starting with last year’s iPhone 13 Pro, Apple added higher refresh rates to the screens of the premium smartphones. The iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max have a feature Apple calls ProMotion, which can increase the screen’s refresh rate as high as 120Hz depending on what’s being displayed. This results in more fluid scrolling and smoother animations.

It’s a small touch, but one that makes the experience feel more comfortable — as my colleague Patrick Holland wrote in his iPhone 13 Pro review. While having a high refresh rate isn’t a deal breaker, it has become standard on most smartphones. Google’s $599 Pixel 7 has a 90Hz refresh rate and Samsung’s $800 Galaxy S22 for example, includes a refresh rate of 120Hz. Even $450 Galaxy A53 5G has a 120Hz display, making the absence of the $799 iPhone 14 even more noticeable.

More features that use Dynamic Island

iPhone 14 Pro Dynamic Island

iPhone 14 Pro Dynamic Island.

James Martin/CNET

Dynamic Island, which is only available on the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, is essentially a second miniature screen. Instead of getting rid of the notch, Apple gave that space a new purpose by using it to display information from other apps.

For example, you can see currently playing music, timers and directions in Maps at the top of the screen – eliminating the need to switch between apps. Dynamic Island makes it easier to multitask on the iPhone 14 Pro, an area where Apple has traditionally lagged behind Samsung and other Android phones that support split-screen apps.

Now that Dynamic Island has proven its worth, I’d like to see Apple do even more with it next year. It would be interesting to see Apple use this space to make proactive suggestions, like apps that might be useful based on your activity, time of day, or schedule. Part of the dynamic island’s usefulness also depends on what app developers decide to do with it. There are already a handful of apps that feature Dynamic Island, such as Pixel Pals, which essentially looks like a Tamagotchi for iPhone. But I hope to see more practical use cases for Dynamic Island that make it feel like a more critical part of your phone, similar to the iPhone’s home screen widgets.

If Apple expands the functionality of Dynamic Island in the future, there’s a chance you might not need an iPhone 15 to take advantage of it. Instead, Apple could build new Dynamic Island features into its next major software update, which will likely be called iOS 17.

A smaller notch on the regular iPhone 15

iPhone 14 Plus

The iPhone 14 and 14 Plus (pictured) still have a notch.

James Martin/CNET

If Apple isn’t going to bring Dynamic Island to the base iPhone 15, I hope it at least makes the notch less obtrusive. The notch hasn’t changed much since its debut on the iPhone X in 2017, except for the Dynamic Island on the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max. Meanwhile, other smartphone makers like Samsung, Google and OnePlus have found ways to offer edge-to-edge displays on their devices without carving out a huge notch for the front camera. Reducing the size of the notch will likely result in more screen space and a more modern look for the iPhone 15.

If Apple moves in this direction, we may have to wait until the iPhone 16 to see it. Ming-Chi Kuoan analyst with TF International Securities known for its Apple predictions estimates that Face ID under the display and front-facing camera sensors will arrive in 2024.

That said, there are good reasons why the iPhone still has a bigger notch than many of its competitors. That mostly comes down to Face ID, which is more sophisticated than the facial recognition systems found on other phones like the Pixel 7, which Google warns shouldn’t be used to authenticate sensitive data like payment information.

Reverse wireless charging

A Samsung phone with a Samsung smartwatch resting on top of it

Some Samsung devices have Wireless PowerShare for charging other devices.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Many Android phones have reverse wireless charging, which is exactly what it sounds like. You can use the back of phones like the Galaxy S22 and Pixel 7 to charge other devices, like a smartwatch or earbuds. While it probably isn’t a must have for most people, I can imagine it being very useful for enthusiasts AirPods users.

No one likes to be stuck on their morning commute with a dead pair of AirPods. Having the ability to get just enough juice to get me through my 30-minute train ride by placing the AirPods on the back of my phone for a few minutes can be a game changer. Yes, you have to sacrifice some of your phone’s battery. But if you’re traveling to a destination where you can easily charge your phone when you arrive—like the office—it may be worth that trade-off.

Return of Touch ID

The Touch ID sensor on the iPad Air from 2020

The iPad Air includes Touch ID in the power button.

Scott Stein/CNET

While Face ID is convenient in many situations, there are cases where it is more convenient to use your finger to unlock the phone. That’s why I hope Touch ID makes a comeback on the iPhone. Maybe you haven’t had time to set up Face ID to work with a mask yet, or maybe you’re just not holding your iPhone at the right angle for Face ID.

Apple clearly sees the value in fingerprint recognition, considering that the top button on the latest standard iPad and iPad Air has Touch ID. Doing the same for the iPhone 15 will add more convenience, giving users the choice to use Face ID or Touch ID depending on the situation. Most Android phones have both a fingerprint reader and some form of facial recognition, so it would be great to see iPhone users get the same options.

It’s unclear if Apple will ever bring Touch ID back to the iPhone. While the analyst Kuo previously predicted that future iPhones would have a fingerprint sensor under the display, he believed changed view in March 2022.

The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max already address many of the previous shortcomings of Apple’s smartphones. The updates I hope to see in the iPhone 15 may not seem revolutionary, but they are bound to make everyday tasks like charging and unlocking the phone a little easier.

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