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iPhone 15 Pro vs. iPhone 14 Pro: Which model should you upgrade to?

The iPhone 15 Pro comes with some notable differences over its predecessor, the iPhone 14 Pro. But there are reasons to buy the latter still.
Written by Jada Jones, Associate Editor
A person holding up two iPhones
June Wan/ZDNET

During this year's annual hardware event, Apple announced the iPhone 15 lineup, consisting of the iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro, and iPhone 15 Pro Max.

If you're eyeing the iPhone 15 Pro, you probably value "Pro" features, such as longer battery life, enhanced camera quality, and a more capable processor. There are some major differences between last year's iPhone 14 Pro model and this year's new iPhone 15 Pro, and those differences will certainly influence your buying decision.

Review: iPhone 15 Pro: Coming from iPhone 12 Pro or earlier? This upgrade will wow you

For example, the iPhone 15 Pro is 9% lighter than the iPhone 14 Pro, and the iPhone 15 Pro debuted with an A17 Pro chip, the most capable iPhone processor, we've found. Additionally, the iPhone 15 lineup is the first iPhone family to feature a USB-C port.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, let's dive into all the differences and help you make the right choice.

Specifications

iPhone 14 Pro

iPhone 15 Pro

Display

6.1-inch OLED with 120Hz (460 ppi)

6.1-inch OLED with 120Hz (460 ppi)

Weight

206g

187g

Processor

A16 Bionic chip

A17 Pro chip

RAM/Storage6GB with 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB8GB with 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB
Battery3,200mAh with 20W charging 3,650mAh with 20W charging
Camera48MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 12MP telephoto, 12MP front
48MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 12MP telephoto (2x), 12MP telephoto (3x), 12MP front
Connectivity5G (sub-6 GHz and mmWave)5G (sub-6 GHz and mmWave)
PriceStarting at $799
Starting at $999

You should buy the iPhone 14 Pro if...

iPhone 14 Pro showing ZDNET homepage against a yellow, red, and blue background
June Wan/ZDNET

1. You want the cheaper option

Shortly after Apple announced the iPhone 15 lineup, iPhone 14 prices saw a deep discount. You can expect all previous iPhone models to be a few hundred dollars cheaper now that the iPhone 15 is here. If you want the closest thing to an iPhone 15, you can purchase the iPhone 14 Pro. Aside from an upgraded chip and a few cosmetic upgrades, the iPhone 14's internal components are very similar to its successor.

Also: Should you buy an iPhone 15? Here's how my wife and I are deciding

However, Apple typically discontinues last year's Pro models shortly after announcing a new iPhone lineup to avoid interference with the new iPhone's sales. So, if you want to buy an iPhone 14 Pro, you'll have to consult other vendors like Amazon, Best Buy, or your cell service provider while supplies last.

2. You're not ready to give up your Lightning cable(s)

It's official: The latest iPhones ditch the Lightning ports and sport a USB-C port instead. The switch to USB-C is mostly important to iPhone users outside of the US, thanks to a law passed by the European Parliament mandating all electronic devices be USB-C compatible by the end of 2024.

However, most iPhone users in the US and in some other countries don't have any pressure to get rid of their Lightning charging cords. If you have an Apple Watch, AirPods, Magic Mouse, Magic Keyboard, iPhone 14 or older, or Magic Trackpad, you probably have plenty of Lightning cords lying around.

If you want to stick with the Lightning cable, buy the iPhone 14 Pro.

3. You're a fan of gold-colored iPhones

Apple first debuted gold-colored iPhones in 2013 with the release of the iPhone 5s. This design decision was heavily influenced by Asian consumers who associate the color gold with wealth and luxury. Shortly after, Apple only offered gold iPhones in "Plus" and "Pro" models, signaling to consumers that to acquire a gold iPhone, they'd need to pay extra for it.

But that all changes with the iPhone 15 Pro, which is now available in Titan Gray, Blue, Silver, and Space Black -- Gold not included. 

So, if you want to get your hands on one, you'll have to stick with the iPhone 14 Pro.

You should buy the iPhone 15 Pro if...

iPhone 15 Pro (Blue Titanium) in hand, in front of an Apple Store
June Wan/ZDNETJason Hiner/ZDNET

1. You just have to have the Action Button

The Action Button, first introduced on the Apple Watch Ultra, is a button that performs a specific action when pressed. On the iPhone 15 Pro, the Action Button replaces the mute switch but can still act as a mute switch -- if you want it to.

Also: How to use the iPhone 15 Pro's new Action Button to do just about anything

You can toggle between actions that can interact with Dynamic Island, like Voice Memos and Camera, and run shortcuts created in the Shortcuts app. Instead of a switch, the iPhone 15 Pro's Action Button looks like the volume up and down buttons.

2. You want USB-C charging

The iPhone 15 Pro is in the first generation of iPhones to utilize USB-C charging. The USB-C charging port is very common among almost all non-Apple consumer tech products, so if you have a non-Apple tablet, pair of headphones, or smartwatch, chances are you have a small collection of USB-C cables.

Also: Best USB-C chargers and accessories for iPhone 15 Pro: Expert tested

Additionally, the iPhone 15 USB-C cables are color-coordinated with the iPhone color you purchase. So, not only do you now have universal charging, but you also have a matching cable. Cute.

3. You want better performance

In traditional Apple fashion, any device that's followed by the "Pro" modifier is guaranteed to have premium, pro-level features. The iPhone 15 Pro has Apple's upgraded A17 Pro chip under its hood that offers increased efficiency and performance. 

Couple the new chip with increased RAM, and iPhone 15 Pro users should experience smoother multitasking as apps can run in the background longer without crashing or lagging. 

FAQs

How much better is the iPhone 15 Pro camera?

The iPhone 15 Pro has an upgraded main camera with a larger sensor than the iPhone 14 Pro. Both phones share the same 48MP pixel count, but iPhone 15 Pro users can change the camera's focal length, choosing from 24, 28, or 25mm options. A camera's focal length dictates how much of the surrounding scene your camera captures.

The iPhone 15 Pro also has improved computational photography features, specifically in the Focus and Depth Control departments. With the iPhone 15 Pro, users no longer need to worry about selecting "Portrait Mode" before taking a picture. The phone can automatically detect a subject and change the camera mode to Portrait.

Additionally, users can change a picture's subject after taking a photo. If there are two subjects in a photo, iPhone 15 Pro users can decide which subject should be in the foreground and which should be in the background.

Will the iPhone 15 Pro fit in iPhone 14 Pro cases?

The short answer: No.

The long answer: There are a few cosmetic differences between the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro that make iPhone 14 Pro cases incompatible with the iPhone 15 Pro.

Also: The best iPhone 15 cases you can buy

First, the iPhone 15 is slimmer than its predecessor. It also sports curved edges instead of flat ones, and has replaced the mute switch for an Action Button. So, if you try to squeeze your iPhone 15 Pro into your iPhone 14 Pro cases, you'll encounter some minor fit issues, and you might damage your new phone.

Will the iPhone 15 Pro fit iPhone 14 Pro screen protectors?

The short answer: No.

The long answer: The iPhone 15 Pro won't perfectly fit iPhone 14 Pro screen protectors for the same reason it won't fit iPhone 14 Pro cases.

The iPhone 15 Pro has thinner borders and curved edges, which will make the iPhone 14 Pro screen protectors ill-fitting on the newer phone.

How do I trade in my current phone for the iPhone 15?

If you buy your new iPhone 15 from Apple, you can trade in a multitude of devices to receive a credit. If you want to buy your new iPhone in full, you'll want to trade in your old (fully paid off) phone and purchase the new one at Apple. This is because once Apple evaluates your device's condition, Apple will refund your traded device's value to your original form of payment.

If you trade in your device with your mobile carrier, you won't receive a refund, but you'll receive a credit. You can only use the credit toward your phone bill or for other devices sold by your mobile carrier. 

Alternatives to consider

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