Apple announced its next-generation iPhone lineup today, and unsurprisingly, it marks the end of the road for Apple’s long-running Lightning connector in favor of USB-C. Not only does USB-C further streamline the wired cable connections across Apple’s vast product lineup, but it also brings faster USB 3 speed capability, alongside other special features, to the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max.
USB 3 support means that the iPhone 15 Pro will support much faster data communication between a Mac and iPhone. Faster data communication allows users to offload large Apple ProRAW photos or ProRes video in a much more reasonable time frame.
There is a catch, however. Apple doesn’t include a USB 3 capable cable with the iPhone 15 Pro, so out of the box, you’ll still be relegated to USB 2 speeds if you use the included 1-meter USB‑C charge cable. Thus, you’ll need to provide your own cable, which Apple will happily sell you, but chances are you probably have a USB 3-capable cable lying around the house.
The iPhone 15 Pro’s new connector means that you can now connect things like thumb drives, fast external storage, microphones, and even 4K displays directly to iPhone without any adapters or dongles. You’ll also be able to charge Apple Watch or AirPods directly from your iPhone as well.
Although all iPhone 15 models make the switch to USB-C connectors, only the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, thanks to the A17 Pro chip, feature the necessary USB controller to support faster USB 3 speeds. That means that, outside of the iPhone 15 Pro, all other iPhones remain at slower 480Mbps USB 2 speeds.
But faster speed isn’t the only benefit of USB 3 connectivity on iPhone 15 Pro. For the first time, users can now shoot ProRes video directly to an SSD. This is similar to what dedicated camera manufacturers have done. For example, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema lineup of mirrorless cameras has allowed videographers to shoot footage to an external SSD for years.
ProRes video is notoriously large in size, so much so that even 1TB iPhone models will quickly fill up storage space when shooting numerous ProRes videos. And shooting directly to an external drive enables ProRes videos to be captured at 60 frames per second for slow motion. If you’re looking to film footage at the maximum quality and highest frame rates, then an external SSD rig is a must.
iPhone 15 Pro also comes with another exclusive ability — the ability to offload Apple ProRAW photos directly to a Mac via a USB-C cable connection. For studio photographers who use iPhone 15 Pro as a primary camera, you can use the Capture One photography suite to shoot and instantly transfer 48MP ProRAW photos directly to your Mac.
Needless to say, if you want to get the most out of USB-C connectivity, you’ll want to opt for the iPhone 15 Pro. Only it will allow you to do things like offload photos directly to a Mac, shoot video directly to external SSDs, connect to 4K displays, and the like. For the baseline iPhone 15, you’ll still get the benefits of a physical USB-C connector but without all of the logical benefits that USB 3 support brings to the table.
What are your thoughts on USB 3 support for iPhone 15 Pro? Are you happy with the upgrade, or do you feel like it wasn’t enough?
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