The iPhone 16’s biggest selling point may be AI features in iOS 18 – 9to5Mac

The iPhone 16’s biggest selling point may be AI features in iOS 18 – 9to5Mac

Days out from WWDC and the AI rumor mill is active as ever.

Yesterday Mark Gurman reported that many of iOS 18’s AI features will require using an iPhone 15 Pro or later. It’s rare for many major software features to be exclusive to the latest iPhone, especially the latest Pro phone. But that’s exactly what iOS 18 seems set to deliver.

Which got me thinking: Apple’s marketing pitch for this fall’s iPhone 16 may center primarily on software, not hardware.

AI features in iOS 18 may be the biggest selling point for the iPhone 16.

What to expect from the iPhone 16 line

iphone 16 dummies - The iPhone 16’s biggest selling point may be AI features in iOS 18 - 9to5Mac

Just a few months out from Apple’s expected September launch of the iPhone 16 and 16 Pro, we have a fairly good idea of what the new models will introduce:

  • the Pro models are getting bigger, moving from a 6.1” to 6.3” display on the Pro and 6.7” to 6.9” on the Pro Max
  • a brand new Capture button will be added to the right edge of all 16 models to enable advanced camera controls
  • following tradition, an A18 chip in the Pro models and A17 in the 16 and 16 Plus
  • improved low-light performance from the Pro main camera
  • the 16 Pro will score the 5x zoom tetraprism camera currently exclusive to the 15 Pro Max

Overall, it sounds like a solid upgrade for the Pro models, but not as much happening with the standard 16 and 16 Plus.

AI as the iPhone 16’s main selling point

ios18 ai - The iPhone 16’s biggest selling point may be AI features in iOS 18 - 9to5Mac

If Gurman’s reporting on the restrictions of many iOS 18 AI features proves true, that means the iPhone 16 and 16 Plus will be the only non-Pro phones with support for those features.

Thanks to adding the A17 chip that currently powers the iPhone 15 Pro, non-Pro users will have a big new reason to upgrade to an iPhone 16. By outward appearance alone, the new phone may not seem like a compelling option, but the host of AI-related iOS 18 features requiring an A17 or later will fill the gap.

In the end, most iPhone customers aren’t paying for the specs, or minor iterative improvements like a brighter display or slightly better camera. Instead, they’re interested in the experience that new phone will offer.

Come this fall, when the wave of iPhone 16 advertising kicks into high gear, my guess is that Apple and phone carriers won’t be pushing specific hardware features as much as software. They’ll show off the AI wizardry that is only possible with a new iPhone (or last year’s Pro model). And that will be the biggest driver of sales.

The iPhone 16 Pro with its larger displays is an easier sell. AI features will certainly help, but they won’t need to be as core to the Pro models’ story.

But for iPhone 16 buyers looking at a device that appears largely the same as what debuted last year, unlocking iOS 18’s full capabilities will be the must-have feature.

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