When you hear that something is going to be a "niche" feature you're probably already starting to get an idea in your mind for what's about to come next. There's nothing wrong with niche, of course, but there's a good chance that you're probably not all that interested in whatever that feature is.
In the case of the iPhone 15 Pro, it's been rumored to have a niche feature of its very own. That's how the leaker who shared details about it on Twitter described it and that's probably doing it a disservice. It's a feature that some people will use a lot but the thing is, most iPhone 15 Pro buyers won't be those people.
You'll no doubt say that's the very definition of niche, and you won't be wrong when you do. But what's different here is that this niche feature isn't aimed at the people who actually buy the iPhone 15 Pro. It's aimed at professionals. And there's a subtle difference.
Let me explain.
What does 'pro' really mean?
To really understand what I'm trying to get at we first need to look at what the pro iPhone actually is. To many, and perhaps even Apple, it's just the best iPhone of any given year. But I don't think that's really how Apple sees these things.
At least, that isn't how it sees it across the rest of its product portfolio.
There's the MacBook Pro which, if you ignore the 13-incher that shouldn't exist, is a real pro machine. It comes with the fastest chips with the most cores. It supports more RAM and comes with bigger displays. There are more ports, too. If you put a MacBook Air and a MacBook Pro beside each other, it's easy to see why pros would want the Pro.
It's the same with the iPad Pro, too. We'll ignore the iPad Air's proximity to the 11-inch iPad Pro for a minute because it doesn't fit with my narrative and I'm in charge of the words.
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is the biggest iPad you can buy, making it perfect for artists. It has the best display as well, not to mention Face ID. Put it beside the base model iPad and there's no contest and pros wouldn't go anywhere else.
Pro models for pro people, if you will.
And then, there's the iPhone.
The iPhone almost-pro
Things get a little murkier when we get to the iPhone lineup. Sure, the iPhone 13 Pro was a great phone and yes, we all loved it. But it wasn't really all that different from the iPhone 13 bar the extra camera.
Apple started to differentiate the lineups in 2022. We got the iPhone 14 with its A15 Bionic and usual camera setup. Then we got the iPhone 14 Pro with the cameras everyone wanted and the Dynamic Island, not to mention the A16 Bionic. All of a sudden it's a real pro iPhone.
Fast forward to 2023 and we're told the iPhone 15 Pro will have Thunderbolt compared to the iPhone 15's vanilla USB-C. Why? Because it's faster.
Not only does that mean that pro photographers and videographers can get their work off the iPhone more quickly, but it also enables a niche feature. That feature, we're told, will allow an iPhone 15 Pro to effectively stream 4K video as it records it right onto a 6K display.
That might not sound like something most of us want to do. But pro videographers? They'll no doubt love being able to see what they're filming on something bigger than the iPhone's display. I can imagine that'll improve their workflows dramatically.
And that's the point. Pro features, on a pro-level iPhone, for professionals.
In Apple's ongoing quest to differentiate the iPhone lineup beyond the old big and small-screen options, this is a great move. Even if it's a feature none of us will ever use.
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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.