Weird iPhone 15 overheating and CarPlay bugs are a stark reminder of the risks of being an early adopter

iPhone 15 Pro with a titanium finish running iOS 17
(Image credit: Gerald Lynch / Future / Apple)

As I write this the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro have both been around for a little more than a week now. They've been largely well-reviewed by just about everyone who's been able to get their hands on one. But that isn't to say that the life of an iPhone 15 or iPhone 15 Pro owner has been all sunshine and unicorns. Far from it.

We, of course, have the overheating situation. That's a problem where owners of Apple's best iPhones feel that their handsets are getting too hot, making them uncomfortable to hold. Most assumed that was the fault of the super-fast new A17 Pro chip inside the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max but, it seems, that's wide of the mark. We'll come back to that later.

Now, we're hearing about another issue. This time owners of the new iPhones can't get CarPlay to work. It might be down to cables, or it might be down to VPNs of all things. Nobody can really agree on what's going on right now, but there's one thing we can surely all agree on — being an early adopter can be a nightmare.

Apple's no stranger to launch problems

It seems that whenever Apple launches a new iPhone we have problems like this. Some of them are serious, some not-so-serious. But no matter which end of the spectrum those problems are, they run the risk of defining an entire model. Is that going to happen again?

There are two examples that immediately spring to mind.

The first? The iPhone 4 and what everyone affectionately termed "antennagate."  It was an issue that caused the iPhone to drop phone calls when people accidentally touched certain parts of its antenna. It was a mess, and Apple wound up giving everyone a free bumper case to stop their fleshy palms from causing chaos. In the long run, it was fine, but the iPhone 4 will forever be known as the iPhone that couldn't make phone calls.

Next up is the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, two phones that were so thin you could literally bend them in the middle. People found that just putting the iPhone 6 into their back pocket and going about their day was enough to make it bend. Not great, admittedly. And it also had a "gate" of its own. "Bendgate," of course.

There have been more, of course. The iPhone 7 made a hissing sound. The iPhone XS did weird things to people's faces when you took their photos. New iPhones and problems are nothing new.

The iPhone 15's turn

With that in mind, it shouldn't surprise that many people that the iPhone 15 has a problem or two.

There's the iPhone 15 Pro's overheating issue which Apple now says is all down to a few software bugs — iOS 17 is doing things it shouldn't, something that is no doubt compounded by a claim that some third-party apps are misbehaving as well. There's talk of overloading the system, which sounds bad. But it'll get fixed in future software updates and Instagram, one of the culprits, already has a new update out that might help.

The latest issue is CarPlay. Some iPhone 15 owners say that they are struggling to find new USB-A to USB-C cables that work properly when they plug their new phones into their cars. They charge fine, but MacRumors reports that actually getting CarPlay to work is proving problematic. Anecdotally, I pulled a random USB-C to USB-A cable out of my drawer on iPhone launch day and it's been working fine since. Your mileage may vary, car-related pun notwithstanding.

Amazingly, at least one person says that the issue is related to their VPN. "If a VPN is activated when the car starts, the car will not pick up CarPlay at all. If the VPN is disabled, CarPlay starts, then if I turn the VPN back on CarPlay crashes," they say. All very likely true while also confirming the point that it's taken me almost 700 words to get to — being an early adopter can suck.

It'll all be alright. Eventually.

To be clear, I don't see anything with the iPhone 15 or iPhone 15 Pro that won't be fixed and forgotten in a few weeks. The CarPlay thing will either turn out to be people using cables that can't handle data or some weird iOS 17 bug that will be fixed in a future release. The iPhone 15 Pro overheating issue seems to be well on its way to being fixed as well, despite the panic surrounding the belief that Apple's A17 Pro was the problem and would need to be throttled.

All of these issues can be fixed with software and are some way short of the hardware and design problems of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 6. And if we all bought our new iPhones in a few weeks instead of on launch day, we'd probably never come across any of them. But we didn't.

Why? Because even though being an early adopter can be hard, and even though it means hitting the bugs before Apple can fix them, we wouldn't have it any other way.

Roll on iPhone 16. I wonder what'll be broken come September 2024.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.