tvOS code references unreleased Apple devices — and one might be the iPhone 15

Apple TV 4K 2022 box on a counter
(Image credit: Gerald Lynch / Future)

Apple is expected to officially unveil the iPhone 15 in just a few weeks – allegedly at an event on September 12 or 13, 2023. So it should come as no surprise that rumors and leaks about the upcoming iPhone 15 handsets are rolling in thick and fast. 

The latest hint about what we might expect from the iPhone 15 launch and beyond comes from X user and Apple news leaker @aaronp613 who spotted that several unreleased iPhone models are mentioned in the tvOS beta code. 

According to Aaron, four iPhone models had been added into the tvOS 17 beta 1 code. They'd presumably gone unnoticed because they had disappeared by the time tvOS 17 beta 4 arrived. But the iPhone model identifiers were allegedly iPhone15,4, iPhone15,5, iPhone16,1 and iPhone16,2.

What's in an iPhone model name? 

Although catching a glimpse of these model names is exciting, what does it mean? 

iPhone identifiers tend to be grouped together by the chips inside them, sharing the example that the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 14, and 3rd generation iPhone SE handsets are all identified as "iPhone14,x." Whereas the iPhone 14 Pro is identified as "iPhone15,x" because it has the A16 Bionic chip under the hood. 

Applying that same logic here, the iPhone15,4 and iPhone15,5 are likely to be the new iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus models. That's because we expect they'll have the same A16 Bionic chip as the current iPhone 14 Pro – they're all part of the "iPhone15,x" family.

Whereas the iPhone16,1 and iPhone16,2 are likely to be the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. That's exciting because it suggests they might be powered by the rumored A17 chip, the one built on 3-nanometer technology that promises all sorts of performance improvements.

But that's not all. Aaron also points out that there are other references to iPhone14,1 and iPhone14,9 identifiers, which hints at A15 Bionic chips. They could be identifiers that are simply left over in the code. Or they could hint at a reworking and relaunching of an older handset, like the iPhone SE or iPhone 13 mini.

It won't be long before we find out all the details at Apple's event in September, where we're at least expecting the launch of the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro

Becca Caddy

Becca Caddy is a contributor to iMore, as well as a freelance journalist and author. She’s been writing about consumer tech and popular science for more than a decade, covering all kinds of topics, including why robots have eyes and whether we’ll experience the overview effect one day. She’s particularly interested in VR/AR, wearables, digital health, space tech and chatting to experts and academics about the future. She’s contributed to TechRadar, T3, Wired, New Scientist, The Guardian, Inverse and many more. Her first book, Screen Time, came out in January 2021 with Bonnier Books. She loves science-fiction, brutalist architecture, and spending too much time floating through space in virtual reality. Last time she checked, she still holds a Guinness World Record alongside iMore Editor in Chief Gerald Lynch for playing the largest game of Tetris ever made, too.