By Annie Kim
Last Updated: September 11, 2023
Annual iPhone Release Outlook 2023
Though many are put off by rumored price hikes, about 20 million Americans will upgrade to iPhone 15 upon its release.
Anticipation is mounting in the tech world as industry experts and Apple aficionados anticipate the company’s special event in September. It’s expected to shed light on the highly awaited iPhone 15. Despite maintaining its dominance in the U.S. smartphone market, Apple has recently encountered lukewarm reviews and cautious optimism surrounding its latest models.
Amidst these dynamics, rumors about the forthcoming iPhone 15's potential enhancements and design refinements are swirling. But will the new features be enough to sustain Apple’s track record of robust sales?
Over the past few years, we’ve reported on public anticipation for the iPhone 13 and iPhone 14. This year, we asked more than 1,400 iPhone users about how likely they are to upgrade to the iPhone 15, the most anticipated features, and why they might pass on the latest model.
Here are some of our key findings about iPhone 15 adoption:
- 16% of iPhone owners (as many as 20 million Americans) plan to buy the iPhone 15 upon its release, and another third of owners are considering an upgrade.
- An improved camera, stacked battery technology, and increased RAM are the most exciting rumored features among those planning to upgrade.
- 60% of those not planning to purchase the iPhone 15 say the phone’s potential price tag puts them off. The iPhone 15 Pro Max is rumored to cost up to $1,299, $200 more than the iPhone 14 Pro Max.
- 43% of those not planning to upgrade said they’d reconsider if the iPhone 15 came with stacked battery technology. After years of battery-throttling controversy, Apple users still want the company to improve the iPhone’s battery longevity.
- Those who have owned their current iPhones for three years are most likely to trade up for the iPhone 15. However, 10% of people with iPhones less than a year old are still planning to upgrade.
16% Of iPhone Users Plan to Upgrade to iPhone 15 Right Away
iPhone sales numbers have been difficult to assess over the past few turbulent years. Looming recessions and rampant inflation dampened consumer demand, while supply chain issues and China’s Zero COVID constraints significantly impacted production.
Apple scaled back manufacturing of the iPhone 14 after a lukewarm reception, leading to a rare dip in year-over-year sales. With a new model due, better economic indicators and China’s lockdown lifted, many forecast a rebound on the release of the iPhone 15.
Our research backs that scenario. Similar to last year, nearly half of current iPhone users are considering an immediate upgrade to the iPhone 15, with 16 percent planning to purchase the model on release. Quick upgrades are most probable among owners who've had their current iPhones for three years. That willingness corresponds with many providers’ trade-in provisions.
Many who have only owned their iPhones for one year or less are already considering the new version. Such quick trade-ins confirm Apple aficionados as early adopters and frequent upgraders.
Broken out by currently-owned models, iPhone X users are the most likely to jump to the iPhone 15 – more than one-quarter will upgrade immediately. Generally, the older an iPhone model, the more likely an upgrade, though stalwart owners content with iPhone 8s or earlier are more resistant to change.
Those who opted for Apple’s budget SE models are also less likely to trade up, perhaps apprehensive about the new model’s projected cost of up to $1,299 (up from $1,099 for the iPhone 14 Pro Max). With that price tag, the iPhone 15 better have some alluring features – let’s see which might be most exciting.
Most Anticipated iPhone 15 Features
Until Apple’s formal announcement, new iPhone features remain officially under wraps. Luckily, the internet is abuzz with leaks and rumors. After compiling the most prevalent possibilities, we asked eager upgraders which features appeal most.
A better camera proved the most popular attraction, followed by enhanced performance, new design touches, and greater practicality.
|Most exciting rumored iPhone 15 features||Percent of users planning to upgrade|
|Upgraded camera and zoom capabilities||60%|
|Stacked battery technology||47%|
|USB-C port for universal charging||39%|
|Power-saving OLED display chip||36%|
|Enhanced modem chip and processor & the new chip||34%|
|6.1" and 6.7" sizes||32%|
|Notch-less, sleek design||27%|
|New green, yellow, and light pink shades||24%|
|Dynamic Island camera/face ID cutout||22%|
|Titanium frame with slim bezels||20%|
|More curved edges||15%|
|Mute button in place of current mute switch||14%|
|Non-Magsafe wireless charging||13%|
Camera upgrades: Realizing the smartphone is most users’ primary camera and the indispensable "generation selfie" tool, Apple continues to up its photography specs. All iPhone 15 models are rumored to feature the robust 48-megapixel capability that debuted on the iPhone 14 Pro. A new state-of-the-art sensor from Sony will improve pics by better handling over-and-under exposures. Those who spring for the iPhone 15 Pro Max may also get a new periscope lens allowing enhanced optical zoom (up to 10x).
Performance enhancements: The new models will likely ship with upgraded chips that are faster, more efficient, and designed to integrate with Apple’s recently-unveiled Vision Pro headset. Additionally, the iPhone 15 is said to include stacked battery technology, which improves energy density. This advance provides more power and longer life with the same-sized power cell.
Design changes: The iPhone 15 is expected to again come in two sizes (6.1" and 6.7"). This year, all models could feature the popular notch-less design incorporating a Dynamic Island display. Previews further suggest that the new version will offer a titanium frame with slimmer bezels, more curves, and a handful of new eye-catching colors, including green and pink.
Practical improvements: Apple's most notable concession to consumer practicality could be the adoption of a conventional USB-C charging port. The shift from proprietary Lightning connectors was mandated by European Union legislation, benefiting customers who hate toting multiple cables. The iPhone 15 will also support new wireless charging standards, allowing faster top-ups from a wider assortment of accessories.
Despite this impressive array of improvements, not all iPhone owners are ready to upgrade.
Upgrade Holdouts: How Might Apple Seed Temptation?
About half of current iPhone users plan to pass on the iPhone 15, while another third sits on the fence. We explored their reasons for passing on the new model and what rumored features could convince holdouts to upgrade.
Among those not planning to buy the iPhone 15 on release, most are satisfied with their present model. Many are hesitant to upgrade for financial reasons, deterred by the price or money still owed on their current phone. Others are environmentally conscious and wish to avoid adding to the world’s disastrous electronic waste.
|Top reasons iPhone users will not upgrade to iPhone 15||Percent of users not planning to upgrade|
|My current phone works fine/recently upgraded||70%|
|It will be too expensive||60%|
|I have not paid off my current phone||16%|
|The iPhone 15 seems too similar to other versions||16%|
|I don't want to contribute to electronic waste||11%|
|I want to wait until Apple works out any bugs||9%|
|I want to wait for possible deals during Black Friday||9%|
|There won't be a “mini" size||6%|
|It doesn’t have features I find valuable or useful||5%|
|I plan to upgrade to a different iPhone version||4%|
|I don't like the USB-C port||2%|
|I plan to get a different kind of phone other than an iPhone||1%|
Some suggest they’ll buy the iPhone 15 once after bug fixes and prices drop (perhaps during November’s Black Friday sales). Notably, only one percent of iPhone owners plan to defect to another smartphone brand, reinforcing the reputation of Apple users’ fierce loyalty.
Of those who said “No" or “Maybe" to an immediate upgrade, one-third claimed that no expected improvement would convince them to purchase the iPhone 15. That leaves some wiggle room for the rest.
Aesthetic changes were rarely considered compelling, but nearly half of the persuadable holdouts said that camera enhancements could motivate them to purchase the iPhone 15.
|Which rumored features would motivate you to upgrade to iPhone 15? Among those unsure whether they will upgrade to the new model upon release|
|Upgraded camera and zoom capabilities||48%|
|Stacked battery technology||43%|
|USB-C port for universal charging||38%|
|Power-saving OLED display chip||34%|
|Enhanced modem chip and processor||25%|
With 16 percent of iPhone owners expressing dissatisfaction with their current model’s battery performance, it’s little wonder that stacked battery technology could inspire additional sales. Expanded RAM and improved chips would also sway some holdouts (especially those whose older devices were intentionally throttled by Apple’s iOS). If the iPhone 15 can deliver these key improvements, many more may be in line for upgrades.
Every iPhone reveal is a significant event that moves international markets, but the upcoming iPhone 15 possesses real blockbuster potential. With reinvigorated production and a roaring economy, analysts predict stellar sales for Apple’s flagship product.
Despite expected record-high price points for the new line, our survey revealed more iPhone upgrade excitement than in previous years. Devoted Apple owners anxiously anticipate a better camera, longer battery life, enhanced performance, and an updated, more-colorful design. Even some who are satisfied with their current iPhones will consider trading up should the improvements prove sufficiently tempting.
Apple currently dominates the American smartphone arena and commands tremendous customer loyalty. Should the specs of the new iPhone meet expectations, the company will further cement its grip on the market. All eyes (and wallets) look to September.
In July 2023, we conducted an internet poll of 1,488 U.S. iPhone users 18 and older about their plans to upgrade their devices when Apple introduces its next model, expected to be named "iPhone 15". We asked about their upgrade plans, current phones, and which expected features appealed to them most.